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Four Men & A Baby

Joey Ramsden

Joey Ramsden

A fantastic weekend’s racing both up in Joburg and down here in the Cape. Racing is really hotting up and it looks to be, as usual, a very strong season down here. Whereas racing in the past at Durbanville was not as well supported in numbers and quality, times have changed and I can assure you, from a trainer’s perspective, it is not easy out there.

At Ascot, the weather blew any chances of South African bloodstock flying the flag. Soft ground in England means soft ground and not soft as we know it here. The penetrometer readings are supposed to be universal (like our handicap ratings) but we all know about that, don’t we! As always, full marks to Mike and his team. They had a go and held their heads up high.

Ready to run gallops were out at Nicola Coppez’s farm, Balmoral Stud, and by all accounts they were every bit as impressive as the Summerveld string. The only thing they were not as lucky with was the weather. I believe it did a complete u-turn and was extremely windy and chilly. This did not dampen spirits and I believe it was a great, well-attended day.

As always, Mondays are extremely busy sorting through the lame and lazy from the weekend and the problems. Sorting out next week’s runners also has to be done. Today we have PE scratchings for the Friday, Algoa Cup day on the Sunday and Kenilworth racing on Saturday.

We have Red Ray entered in a few races and will have one final discussion with all concerned as to where we head with him. I am very much looking forward to the week ahead. Sadly, the PE draw Gods on the Friday have done their damage and we will not be running anything there. The Sunday is much the same in the bread and butter races and we have the usual rubbish draws in the Algoa Cup, except for Disco Al, which is drawn extremely nicely.

He is my number one raider, I suppose. At this point, it will be interesting to see if he gets in the race as quite a few have to come out before him. Every now and again I get a bollocking from my owners telling me I can be a little negative towards the way racing is run here. Try as hard as I might, I cannot avoid it this time.

The Algoa Cup on Sunday in Port Elizabeth is a case in point. How on earth poor old Bravura, despite the fact he has a merit rating of 117, gets a weight of 65,5 kg’s (and a draw of 41) in a R350 000 race is just beyond me. It is fine proof that the people who administer and run racing have clearly never owned a racehorse in their lives.

If they had, and were treated in this fashion, they would never own one again. Bravura, sadly, was not good enough to get in this year’s July. He has been a lovely horse throughout his career but the racing administrator’s say we must start aiming a bit lower. So, here we are, only to be saddled with a monster weight of 65,5kg’s. Quite unbelievable.

They have shown they have no grasp at all for the concept of racing, ownership or why people should keep high merit rated horses in this country. Racing is about familiarity and sadly the public do not have a chance to get familiar with horses.

They are either shipped overseas for better financial return or they get an offer from Mauritius and they cannot be competitive here off their handicap marks. Those foolish enough to hang around subsequently get kicked in the groin and treated like this. I am not only talking about Bravura as there are many others in the rest of the field.

This is PE’s July and with Astro News, trained locally by Gavin Smith weighted to carry 63,5kg’s and Yvetter Bremner’s Blaze of Fire also with 63.5kg’s, where exactly are these people supposed to go?

In the Bremner case, the horse is owned locally. Now trying to find owners in PE is a little bit like trying to find the Cape Town handicapper after Race 5 on any race day. I believe when Mr McGrath phoned to inquire about Blaze of Fire’s weight, he was told he should race his horse in another centre. The mind boggles.

I have no idea where Blaze of Fire is off to but I suppose it is back to once in a blue moon Advance Plates and R80 000 stakes for Bravura, which is really not good enough for the long-suffering owners. Racing administrators should be made to own horses and feel the pain in every way possible. This is the only way they will ever understand the frustration.

At the moment it is certainly not good enough. The merit rating debacle is a story full of lies, incompetence and a complete non-existent grasp of what South African racing is all about. To think one can suddenly shift and move a whole population of horses is ludicrous and we must be the laughing stock of the world. I am going to finish off on this one and final thought.

While I already know the local handicappers would love to put cyanide in everything I touch, let me leave you with this thought: there are four paid individuals, all allegedly with their own minds and using these same minds to adjudicate every horse’s merit rating and run in this country – independently.

Now I have not heard one person, when they heard about the across the board shift, think that it was remotely a half-decent idea. How come not one of those four individuals did not stand up and make himself heard and say that he thought they might be heading in the wrong direction with this.

Surely not all four could have agreed? Surely not all four could have thought this was a magic idea? Surely one had to stand up and suggest an alternative? Obviously not.

And this is supposed to be an independent, free and fair-thinking panel. I think not. On that thought, and having probably signed my own death warrant, this is your Captain signing off.

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1 comment on “Four Men & A Baby

  1. billyman says:

    Captain your actions are admirable and I hope that you continue to have the courage of your convictions and I hope that your fellow trainers rally to your support. You are not the convict

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