MATT HANCOCK has managed to do in 24 hours what the BHA hasn’t in 24 years.
He has united all of the trainers in Newmarket behind a common cause – they’re all absolutely livid that he’s going on I’m A Celebrity.
I personally find it all quite amusing, but then again he isn’t my MP.
For all his faults, the Alan Partridge of politics has been a supporter of racing during his 12 years as Newmarket’s MP.
And in 2012 he gave us all a laugh when winning a charity race at Newmarket with a riding style I can only describe as like John Wayne with a pole up his backside.
Even after his slapdash handling of the pandemic and infamous affair which was broken by this paper, he was as big a banker as Baaeed in the donkey derby to get re-elected.
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But if the backlash on the gallops on Wednesday morning was anything to go by, he dare not step foot in Newmarket ever again for fear of being lynched on Warren Hill.
Amid all the fury, there was one trainer who gleefully told me he was looking forward to watching Hancock “scream like a baby” as he is thrown out of a helicopter and forced to eat wombat testicles.
Talking of animal genitals, there are definitely a few people (that’s a lie, it’s more like 100 people) in horse racing who I would pay good money to watch retch their way through a bush tucker trial.
Name names, I hear you say? I would love to, but I can’t.
Over the last 12 months I’ve found myself getting increasingly familiar with our legal team and it’s not something I plan to continue into 2023. New year, new me.
It sums up the current situation in our sport very neatly – even our allies in government are complete and utter numpties.
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None of our leaders has a Scooby Doo how to grapple with racing’s problems – I honestly think we would be better off if I’m A Celeb hosts Ant and Dec took over the reins.
Average field sizes for the month of October reached record lows this year, and there are also some pretty grim stats knocking about when it comes to top-level horses in this country.
In 2019, there were 88 jumps horses rated 151 or higher in Britain. As it stands in 2022, there are just 43.
When you consider that Willie Mullins alone has 30 horses rated 151 or higher in his stable, things ain’t looking too clever.
So it wasn’t that big a surprise when just six horses were entered for the Betfair Chase this week, with the hot favourite trained in Ireland.
There just aren’t many good horses in this country, and at the current rate we are going to get another almighty spanking from the Irish when Cheltenham rolls around again.
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It’s not just on the track where the picture is pretty bleak.
Last week, I wrote about the family who were forced to throw away their food before they were allowed through the turnstiles at Cheltenham.
I have had several racegoers reach out to me since then describing terrible customer experiences around the country – from rude staff to inedible food and extortionate prices.
You could argue that fixing the problem with high-end equine talent in the UK is a difficult one – though boosting prize-money is an obvious starting point.
But improving the fan experience, giving them a reason to go racing instead of watching it from the comfort of the sofa, is so bloody easy.
Our racecourse chiefs just don’t seem bothered, they are happy to rake in media rights money and if there is no-one on course to watch the action, so be it.
Sigh. I’m a racing fan, get me out of here.
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