Thankfully the lockdown on British racing due to the equine flu outbreak didn't go on any longer than was initially planned so we could get back to racing on Wednesday after six days without it. I don't know what non-racing fans do with their afternoons at home as I was getting pretty sick of daytime television without any racing to watch!
Like many other yards, we were put on a 'caution' list as we had had runners at one of the meetings where an infected horse had been so all our horses (even Bonnie the pony) had to have swab tests which were done last Friday but, with over 2000 swabs to get through at the testing centre, we didn't get any results back until Tuesday. As expected they all came back negative and we could crack on with our runners on Thursday. One proviso brought in by the BHA was that all runners must have had a flu vaccination in the last six months rather than just their annual one but luckily only a few horses in the yard needed a booster vaccine as most of ours are done at Christmas time.
I am also happy to say that the yard is now open again to visitors after the BHA wanted every yard kept under tight security to prevent the spread of the flu.
The horses have clearly been feeling fine because the three runners we've had since the resumption of racing have all finished in the first three placings.
Gas Monkey had a big supporting crowd of N.E.T. Racing Club members at Chelmsford on Thursday evening and he didn't let them down with a super run in second place. The winner was winning for the third time in a row so we probably just bumped into one who is way ahead of the handicapper but the Monkey's turn to win shouldn't be far away as he seems to stay 1m2f very well and handles the all-weather surface perfectly.
The other two runners for the week came at Lingfield on Saturday with both Limerick Lord and Miss Green Dream finishing in third place. Limerick is back in great form after his win last time and is full of confidence currently so hopefully he can see out the rest of the all-weather season with some more consistent runs.
Miss Green Dream was having her first run for us and seemed to appreciate the step up in distance. She could have benefitted from a faster pace and I'm sure she will be winning very soon.
One worrying aspect from Lingfield was the terrible prize money. Both third places earned their owners £294 each with the winner of one race receiving just £1772. Bear in mind that this would barely cover one month's training fees, it is little wonder that some people are put off owning racehorses. Prize money had really improved over the last couple of years but now some tracks, namely ones owned by ARC, have cut back their prize money contributions in the fear that the Government reduction in the amount people can spend on betting machines will affect their income.
One thing that would strike fears into the hearts of racecourses is the thought of having two or three runners per race but getting a boycott organised between trainers has proven impossible in the past as nobody wants to let a winning opportunity go. It would certainly be the most effective course of action but, as ever, we will likely just be controlled by what the bookies and racecourses want us to do.
As I said, sometimes you can't avoid running at these tracks and particularly at this time of year on the all-weather as ARC owns most of them! Hence why we'll still be taking Sea Shack to Wolverhampton on Tuesday. He has really found his form recently with two second places, bumping into an easy winner both times. He deserves to get his head in front so hopefully there aren't any handicap blots against him this time. He has proven to be a great purchase by his owner Koya Equine after being bought for just £800 from Doncaster sales last September.