Trainer Justin Snaith hit out at the ruling that forces J&B Met runners to attend public gallops at Kenilworth just nine days before the big race after his fancied contender Jet Explorer returned injured.
Jet Explorer pulled a shoe during the gallop last Thursday and “banged his leg”, meaning the yard is now in a race against time to have him ready.
“I have five days to get his foot right, I have my work cut out and at the moment it is a 50/50 call,” said Snaith yesterday.
The annoyed Phillippi trainer said he was not against public gallops, but stressed that in this “professional era” the trainer should be “given the option”.
He pointed out that a lot of public money was invested in this race and that punters and owners should be able to have confidence that their charge had been given the best possible preparation.
He also compared the Met gallops to the Vodacom Durban July version.
“I can understand the July gallops as it is a tradition that has been around for decades, but this is not the July, it’s the Met, and I’m not sure where this idea came from to all of a sudden change it in the Western Cape. It is madness and the only thing that takes a hammering is the poor horse.
“Jet Explorer was so well after running a cracker in the Queen’s Plate and a horse in his condition will perform and fresh up when brought in front of people, so I had not wanted to bring him to the gallops and the horse had not wanted to be there either. Besides the Thursday before the following Saturday is too close. It must also be remembered that we are dealing with 30 degree heat at this time of the year in Cape Town! It is not Durban in July. Furthermore, we were told that we had to have our horses here by 7 o’ clock meaning the number one on the list can get in and out quickly but Jet Explorer was number 10 and had to ring for an hour before it was his turn. He was on course for two hours.”
Snaith said that ideally he would have brought Jet Explorer to Kenilworth for a quiet workout the day before, as he had done with some of his other Met day runners.
However, he emphasised that in the latter case the trainer had the option and that this regularly performed routine took just twenty minutes to complete.
He continued, “This must be the only sport in the world where you are forced to show your players before the main event. We were told that if we did not bring our horses they would be scratched. The most important thing before a big race should be the horse’s wellbeing and not ten people who want to watch it.
“The trainer should be given every chance to get the horse to the race in the best possible condition.
“The public who have backed it would also like to know that the trainer has been able to do this and so of course would the owner.
“I am not against the gallops, but the trainer should be given the option. This is a race worth millions, the horse’s performance is potentially of great value and to have this forced upon you is madness.
“This is the professional era, it’s not the old days, and trainers monitor their horses before deciding their program for the day. What happens for example if it had not eaten well the night before, it would not want to gallop that day, and you would adjust its program accordingly. Things like this can change the result of the race.”
Snaith pointed out that he was not the only trainer opposed to the compulsory gallops and said a trainers’ meeting was in the pipeline to discuss whether they would accept the ruling in the future or make a stand against it.
The J&B Met gallops were likely started in an attempt to duplicate the feverish on course atmosphere associated with the popular Vodacom Durban July gallops, but it does not appear to have had the desired effect and is still relatively sparsely attended.
However, Snaith did reveal that horses of his had picked up injuries in the July gallops before too.
Jet Explorer finished like an express train in the L’Ormarin’s Queen’s Plate on January 11 for an eye-catching 1,55 length third.
There was consequently a flood of money wagered on him and he plunged down to 8-1 in the ante-post market.
However, he is now back out to 12-1 with Betting World.
Snaith concluded, “I am not saying that we trainers are against galloping our horses, but if a punter or owner had the choice would he rather see his horse having a televised canter or have his horse being given the ideal prep into the race.
“The gallops have put a dampener on Met day for me, but we will still be trying our best to have him ready on the day.