"Toboggans Fire" won well on Friday night at Wolverhampton under a good ride from our stable apprentice "Rowan Scott" who had this big, strong daughter of Firebreak (out of a three time winner for us "Toboggan Lady") in exactly the right place throughout the race and won in decisive fashion. It was the fillies third career win and she looks to be on the upgrade for long standing owners "Dave McMahon" (who also bred her) and partners "Grange Park Racing" who are a fantastic syndicate to train for, full of fun loving - racing enthusiasts.
While David, Grange Park and indeed every single one of our current owners are fantastic to train for and, any trainer will tell you that such "good owners" are valued "like Gold dust". Sadly not all owners are good or indeed decent. Articles in last Thursday's and Friday's "Racing Post" highlighted the rift between Luca Cumani and Sheikh Obaid who removed 30 racehorses from Cumani last season, despite excellent results. Our trade paper reported......................
"When Postponed won at York last week the Sheikh was extraordinarily forthcoming about both the reasons for moving his horses and his particular take on owner- trainer relations. The Sheikh went on to say..... “When I tell a trainer something he has to listen, I asked one thing – to get Postponed ready before the race – and he said: ‘I can’t’.
“He told me after running Postponed three times he’s not ready and that’s a problem. He has to run him to get him ready.
“I am military. If I give someone an order he has to take my order. We do it like this. I’m not going to listen to a trainer giving me an order. I say the same to Simon, ‘If I tell you that you have to run in this race, you have to run.’
“I won’t take excuses". And if "I think of something late at night" -he says he "calls his trainers and expects them to answer".
Thursday's article was illuminating indeed, giving the reader an insight into how this man's mind works. But, by conducting himself in this way, he is not alone. My guess is however, that he does at least pay his bills, many don't. But that is no compensation to the Cumani team for all their blood, sweat and tears having produced the horses in the first place.
Yesterdays headlines in Tom Kerrs's "Friday column" - "Obaid's comments inadvertently pay the highest tribute to Cumani" came as no surprise, this well written piece demonstates how "some" owners - not all by any means, behave in ways which make a trainers life, and the job of producing horses to win races - difficult and sometimes impossible. Unreasonable demands, intereference in training, race planning, running and riding of horses, is as unacceptable as non payment of fees. Many trainers have to put up with all this and even worse. I am not for one second suggesting owners are not entitled to an opinion or that they should not have some input, on the contrary. What I am referring to are those ( few owners) who try to "take over" instead of letting their trainer do the job he or she is paid to do.
I have been training for a long time, George has been in racing even longer and we have pretty much "seen it all" so much so, that the contract I was sent a few years back by a publisher, wanting me to write a book about my life in horse racing might be resurrected sooner than I had planned . I had shelved the offer to concentrate on training although I admit the blog, along with the two newspaper columns I currently write have been part of the plan and part of the "bigger picture" towards the eventual production of this book.
True life stories will make it very colourful reading, while owners, breeders, agents, trainers and jockeys provide a never ending supply of material, made more interesting thanks to the reality that is our 'day to day' life in horse racing. Jockeys for instance are often the first goal for gambling owners who, not only like to bet but they like to "lay" bets too, and hereby lie's the uglier side of racing. Jockeys continually have to be on the lookout for overly generous characters who try to buy a jockeys friendship. It has always been part and parcel of a jockeys life, George too was approached by a well known bookmaker -more than once, but nowadays it is far more commonplace (and dangerous) because everyone with access to a computer can play at being a bookie.
Unsuspecting wives being cheated on is another storyline - I am recalling a very amusing tale of one owner who dashed off for a "bit of the other" while his unsuspecting wife waited patiently for him to return to the track, although Newcastle horse box park is hardly a romantic venue!
Horse racing and the wonderful characters in it ensures a supply a never ending colourful, fascinating, real life drama's packed full of characters with the good, the bad and the ugly, but not forgetting the amazing, decent people we encounter daily too. One thing is for sure, racing and those I have encountered have made my life much richer, varied and more interesting than it might have otherwise been.