Franny Naughton got a bit of a shock at Lingfield yesterday on board our boy "Just a Groove" when his left rein snapped strides after jumping out of the stalls leaving Franny nothing but one rein and a neck strap to hang on to, luckily the horse was sensible and pulled up along with the other runners and a worse disaster was avoided. It was mega frustrating, just as the horse has been all along, and yesterday was to be 'make or break' time. Breaking tack is to be be avoided at all costs - for obvious reasons so this was quite ironic for a yard who makes an extra efort in the tack maintenance department by employing a 'tack lady' who calls in every Monday morning to check all our tack, rugs and equipment and take away anything needing repairing. But, this little number had snapped under the rubber of the rein making it impossible to have known about.
Also running in the race was "Birrafun" whose debut recently was more promising then last nights effort which, possibly came a bit too soon for her.
In the wider world of racing todays "letters" page in the Racing Post has an interesting and factual letter responding to the recent article in the trade paper about eating disorders among stable staff, highlighting the issues including apparent pressure heaped on staff by trainers to keep their weight low. Obviously jockeys weight is an issue for the individual jockeys and there is no doubt keeping a riding weight under control is one of the hardest parts of the job for many jockeys. Work riders too can't bo too heavy and adverts for staff will regularly state riders must be under a certain weight (usually 10 stone) but with the staffing crisis and dire shortage of decent riders in particular, trainers are having to radically alter the way we do the job in terms of staff. Long gone are the days where one (lightweight) lad "did" his "three" . When it comes to recruiting staff and in particular riders, trainers nowadays are far less likely to consider weight, within reason of course, than we once were, a decent rider weighing a bit more is far preferable than none at all and we are not asking horses to race at home carrying disproportionate weights. Personally I am very fortunate because we have plenty of very good (and light) riders but it hasn't always been the case and good horse-men or woman with experience is without doubt more important to us trainers than a few extra pounds of bodyweight.
Not only do racing's professionals want our staff to be healthy and well, but racing also puts more effort, time and finances into staff welfare issues (as we also do for horse welfare) making our industry a leader in these areas, unfortunately we have not, in the past broadcast these important initiatives enough and it seems our own trade paper and it's journalists are not even aware of just how good the back up services are in horseracing and how much better they are becoming all the time courtesy of work done by the National Trainers Federation, the National trainers federation charitable trust, Racing welfare, the Professional Jockeys association, the Injured Jockeys fund, the welfare development team of the BHA and both the Northern Racing College and the British Racing School. Someone needs to start advertising this, and quickly before parents dissuade their kids from joining our ranks and other would be workers are put off what really is one of the best jobs you can do.