As explained last week, the horses are having a little time off to let them recover from the bug that hit the yard (plus the rest of Newmarket) recently and caused a few to under-perform. I'm very happy with how they all are and the older horses who have been enjoying some time out in the paddocks will be ridden again on Monday and it shouldn't take them too long to get back to full fitness. It looks as though we will be back on a racecourse again from the 14th September onward, providing the chosen horses are healthy enough. We usually have just as many runners through the winter as we do during the summer so a short holiday now will do them no harm and could mean they are a bit fresher for the all-weather season.
There is always work to be done at home though and the other half of the yard has still been ridden to keep in top form. I have always believed Newmarket is the best place in the world to train racehorses with unrivaled facilities on your doorstep. If suffering from an injury on the gallops, you are far better off being a horse than a human as a vet will be on the scene in minutes whilst you'd probably have to wait a good hour for an ambulance to arrive for a human from Cambridge.
One gripe some have about the Heath though is the lack of hills to train on but this may be set to change with the announcement this week of an ambitious new hill gallop in the town set to cost £10m. Drawing upon similar projects in Japan, the gallop will be artificially raised using a motorway flyover type bridge and it will be almost as steep as the world-famous Warren Hill which is one of the most popular gallops in Newmarket. Currently we make do perfectly well with Hamilton Hill but my one gripe with it would be the length as at just under four furlongs long, it isn't really much of a test for the horse. The new canter will be a bit longer but much steeper to really work the hindquarters on a horse.
I won't be holding my breath though as planning permission for the new gallop hasn't even been filed yet and construction isn't expected to take place until 2020!
In the more immediate future, racing on mainstream television is set to switch from Channel 4 to ITV next year and details have been slowly emerging of the new team which is set to host the show.
I'm usually too busy in the yard to ever watch the Morning Line on a Saturday morning but I was tuned in when laid-off after my hip replacement a few years ago and I wasn't impressed. It was just all about betting and was, quite frankly, very boring. It just seemed a lazy way of doing things and they would have been better off putting some effort in and going out to yards during the week to hear from people associated with the weekend's big runners. TV should be entertaining and what the Morning Line lacked was a bit of banter which you had when the likes of John Francome and Big Mac were on. The unveiling of the new team makes things look like they are going down a similarly mundane path and the management would be better off signing the likes of Matt Chapman who, although very annoying at times, is good fun to watch and knows his stuff. Rather than having some pretty dolly bird interviewing the jockeys, why not get Luke Harvey in as he can always have a laugh with people. Channel 4 Racing was at its peak when you had big characters like Big Mac and Derek Thompson causing a bit of controversy which got us all listening. Yes, they made mistakes about form and such at times but this show is for the general public who are not all racing experts and they don't want to hear some fat bald bloke talk about prices on Betfair.
On most Saturdays I find myself watching RUK or Attheraces rather than Channel 4 as the amount of advert breaks on the latter also drives me mad. Hopefully the new setup can get me, and millions of others, tuning back in.