‘When I were a lad” you knew when the flat season ended and the jumps season began, writes Vernon Grant.
And you knew when the jumps season was over with and the flat season began. There were official dates and you did not get horses jumping during the flat season, and vice versa.
For some years now it has been impossible to see the join. True, there is still an official start to one code of racing, and an end to the other. But tablets of stone are no longer required.
You can watch or bet on jumps or flat racing of some kind or other on pretty much every day of the year when racing takes place.
While I would like to see a return to how things once were, it is not going to happen. That particular genie exited the bottle long ago. You can come up with a date that says: “this is the official start of the X season” but the fact remains, both codes of racing go on simultaneously these days.
When the body called ‘Racing for Change’ was set up I though the name was an ambitious one. Racing people don’t take kindly to change.Rod Street leads what was Racing for Change. It is now called Great British Racing. I hope to interview Rod on camera later this year.
But earlier this year he was quoted as saying: “We are looking at the overall seasons. The thing is that now, the seasons blur. Bar Good Friday and Christmas Day, we race every day, and we seamlessly go from Flat turf to all-weather, some horses run on the all-weather before the turf and vice-versa, and the jumps season ends on a Saturday at Sandown and starts again the following Monday.
“What we’re looking at is probably more the championships [for trainers and jockeys] as opposed to the seasons. It’s not about seasons, because consumers can dip in and out of racing as and when they choose, it’s about the championships and now we’ve got a 52-week-a-year dedicated broadcaster, it might make it easier to promote the championships more effectively. But it’s very much a work in progress. To review it properly, there can’t be any sacred cows so we are giving consideration to a whole range of things, but it’s impossible to say anything specific right now.”
Now hints that the framework for the champion jockey title could be changed have raised eyebrows among those who watch, write about and take part in racing. Rod Street faces resistance to any notion of altering how the jockey’s title is managed.
Champion jumps jockey Tony McCoy says: ”I’m not in favour of splitting seasons. Summer jumping helped me to become champion jockey for the first time in 1995 and there is every chance it will help other young riders to establish themselves in the future.
““The only thing wrong with the current jumping year, as it stands, is there should be a defining end to the season at Sandown in April with a break, which could be followed by maybe a well in August for all those jockeys with kids.
“I think splitting the seasons would be the wrong move” says AP McCoy.AP adds: “My job as a jockey is to ride as many winners as possible all year round and at all types of courses. I’m as happy riding at Newton Abbot in the summer as Cheltenham in the winter as it is my work and how I earn a living.
““It doesn’t matter if it is a seller or the Gold Cup, it’s all the same to me. I see no point in making two seasons for the sake of it.”
And former champion flat jockey Ryan Moore is in agreement with AP McCoy.
Moore said: “I was a bit disappointed to read that some people are advocating changing the jockey’s title to start on Craven Day, finish on Champions Day, and ignore all-weather racing.
“To be blunt, I think it is a stupid idea” says Ryan Moore.Ryan Moore has a great chance of winning the flat jockey title this season, and he thinks those who put most in should have the best chance of being called champ.
He says: “I believe everyone should be given a chance to get on the ladder and make a name for themselves, and if you are young and hungry and willing to put the hours in, then why shouldn’t they get the recognition? It is how I got the opportunity to progress. And I actually think it is disrespectful of people to even suggest these changes.
“They have probably been thought up by people who want to package the title with a nice little bow and present it on Champions’ Day but that is not how the sport works. We must give everyone an equal chance.
“And ignoring all-weather racing wouldn’t be wise, either. A lot of all-weather maidens are much better than many turf ones these days, and it wasn’t long ago that Ghanaati was winning a Classic after winning a Kempton maiden.”
I don’t envy Rod Street and Great British Racing. Change is seldom welcome.
If changes improve matters for spectators, punters, jockeys, trainers and owners; I am for it.
If changes to racing are purely cosmetic, I am not.
Parade horses on the racetrack prior to big races by all means. I loathe the fanfare music welcoming back winning horses as though they were boxers entering a ring, but I appreciate such innovations are not aimed at hardcore racing fans such as myself.
If memory serves me correctly the ludicrous music played during a race pre-dates ‘Racing for Change’ and was the barmy idea of one racecourse. That was the daftest change I have seen in many a year and Ryan Moore, who took part in such a race, called it “crap.”
He was right about that and I think he is right about changing the formula that makes up the jockey’s title.
The jockeys don’t think there is a problem and I have seen no clamour from racing fans for a change in the set up for the jockey’s title.
There is plenty that is broke about racing. Let’s fix those things.[symple_heading type=”h3″ title=”William Hill are offering new customers a £25 free bet when they sign up” margin_top=”2px;” margin_bottom=”5px” text_align=”left”] Interested? Sign up here. I want a Free £25 bet.
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