Raring to go
It has been heartening in the past few days to hear that 1 June has been nominated as a possible or probable resumption date for racing in Britain. It obviously cannot be any more definite than that as we don’t know what further surprises COVID-19 has in store for us, but it certainly looks as if the sport may resume then. Lockdown, including the suspension of racing, has been a trial for us as it has been for the entire country, but within the stable it has been relatively easy to bear. We have been lucky in that our working days have been no different than normal, other than not including trips to the races. It would have been a nightmare had we not been allowed to keep training the horses, but happily that has not been the case. As regards each individual horse, not running for a small amount of months is no big deal because that’s par for the course. Horses are fragile athletes; injury or illness potentially lurks around every corner, so pretty much every horse finds himself facing an unscheduled hiatus in his programme every so often. Where this has been different, of course, is that it has happened to every horse at the same time and has contained the extra frustration of the hiatus applying to the horses who were fit and ready to run as well as to those who weren’t. Furthermore, at the outset the hiatus came with no firm idea of when racing might resume, and it is very disheartening for people who own a fit, healthy, sound horse not to be able to run the horse and, particularly, have no idea of when they will be allowed to do so. A further disheartening element is that lockdown means that owners cannot even visit their horses in the stable, and are unlikely to be able to go to the races when their horses do eventually resume racing. When you have been racing horses for a while, you become resilient and able to cope with disappointments or delays (or you get out of the game because disappointments and delays are endemic even in a ‘normal’ year). We have been very lucky with how philosophical the owners in this stable have been, and also by how well the staff have coped with a difficult situation. A further problem when racing does resume will be that races will be very hard to get into. There could be literally hundreds of entries for races which have a field-size limit of 12, and elimination will be a major hurdle in trying to run horses. Furthermore, racing’s already over-stretched finances are going be even more problematic than ever. However, things will sort themselves out eventually. Racing (and life in general) eventually returned to normal (whatever that means) after both world wars, so things will eventually return to normal after this. God willing, we’ll be around to enjoy it when it does. When COVID-19 is claiming tens of thousands of lives around the country, we count our blessings that we have remained healthy and that we can look forward to being active participants in this wonderful sport once again.