The life of a champion jockey is one of perpetual highs and lows.
Richard Hughes rode Olympic Glory to a comfortable win in the QEII at Ascot on Saturday.
The champion flat jockey said: “We always believed in Olympic Glory. He just travelled so well on this ground. What a trainer! If Richard Hannon was training these good horses 20 years ago no-one would have got a look-in.”What a difference a day makes!
24 hours later, along with other jockeys, he found himself having to refuse to ride at the highest course in England. The jockeys changing room resembled a paddling pool.
Hughes said: “It’s a shame we had to call racing off but we have moaned before about the weighing room being a disgrace.
“It was damp and the sewage was coming in to weighing room. There was water dripping from the walls and ceilings and onto our clothes.
“We don’t need anything fancy and we are not asking for moons and stars, we just need something nice and clean. The food is only about 20 feet from the sewage coming out.”
Hughes added: “The lads who are on their feet all day looking after us before and after the races and changing our gear – we couldn’t ask them to be walking round in a pool of water.
“It is bad enough asked to work for skimpy prize-money but to work under those conditions as well is unacceptable. The directors of Arc certainly wouldn’t sit a room with sewage coming in there when they are working.”Follow @hughesiejockey on Twitter and you will see what people tweet to one of the finest jockeys of this or any other generation.
One minute you are a hero for making punters money on a winning horse, the next you are sent comments which, were they in print, would be actionable. Indeed, you can be sued for comments published on Twitter. But if jockeys did that they would have no time to ride horses.
Bath may be the highest course in England, but it is shit.
Not just yesterday, but any day. I love Bath as a place. But the course is a waste of space. It hosts low grade racing for the majority of the year and the racing there is often subject to very high winds, heavy rains and slow drainage.
Bath racecourse should either be subject to serious upgrading, or closed.
The unpalatable truth is that there are too many racing fixtures in the UK. Many of them little more than donkey derbies staged on terrible courses with antiquated fixtures and fittings and in front of one man and his dog.
I don’t blame the jockeys for refusing to work amid water and sewage at Bath. Hughes and his colleagues are right to make a stand on working conditions.
Arena Racing Company (ARC) run 15 racecourses in England. There are least three which, were they to close tomorrow, very few people would miss.
The big bookmakers would. For it is the big bookies who effectively run the sport these days.
Were they to each donate to Bath racecourse 10% of the profit they made on Champions Day, the bookies wouldn’t miss it.
And there would be no shit in Bath. On or off course.