Across social media, particularly on the lead up to Cheltenham, there is a constant tirade from punters, bookmakers and fans of racing alike about particular owner’s or trainer’s choices on where they should or should not be running each individual horse of their string.
Okay, putting aside our retirement fund accumulators, lucky 15’s and lets not forget the level of risk reflected in odds when backing ante post, but should we, as the racing community be getting so irate about a professional decision made by professionals in the game?
It wouldn’t be fair to write about this subject without discussing the business of Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci, every year we find ourselves playing, what The Final Furlong Podcast guys have coined, ‘Willie Mullins Bingo,’ nobody knows where their superstars are going to run or even the current status of an animal, but in a way does that not give us a little bit of turbulence and excitement during the year long wait for Cheltenham? It divides opinions, definitely creates value in the market and whilst we’d all like to see Faugheen vs Annie Power in this years Champion Hurdle, will we? The simple answer is either (depending on your optimism)… Who knows? Or, it’s unlikely, and that has always been the case.
The Ricci family own both superstar horses among others, and whilst it would be a real race for the ages, why wouldn’t they continue to mop up more of the prize money at the festival to allow them to continue to do what they are currently doing and buy more top class race horses, for them and us to marvel at?
Vautour, romping up the Cheltenham hill to win the Ryanair Chase of 2016.
I totally understand the frustration, not least for backers of the late, great, Vautour in the Gold Cup last year. I winced myself when I heard the news on the Tuesday morning that he was bound for the Ryanair as opposed to the Gold Cup, my docket instantly in shreds. It certainly left a bitter taste, made all the more sour when quotes from Ricci began appearing saying he’d, ‘run him in the Gold Cup or not at all,’ while attending preview nights during the lead up to the greatest show on turf. But ultimately, no matter how frustrating it is, it was the choice to be made between Ricci and Mullins, rightly or wrongly – and that’s the game we’re in.
We have entered an age of racing where we applaud the likes of trainer, Colin Tizzard for running both his Gold Cup giants against each other at Kempton. But ultimately racing is a business and a business that isn’t getting any cheaper. Owners and trainers are going to compete for the prize money and why shouldn’t they? It isn’t up to us as racing folk to demand the fantasy races we’d like to see. Save yourselves the frustration, let’s put aside the retirement bets for now and enjoy the fantastic lead up to the Cheltenham Festival in whatever form it takes.