Racing should be seen to be a clean sport and I truly believe that it is here in the UK - you cannot get away with any cheating through the use of performance enhancing drugs, most winners are drug tested after their races and random drug tests are also carried out in yards on a regular basis - we had one a couple of months ago. But I do think the BHA does want to be seen trying a bit too hard with their insistence on carrying out pre-race blood tests as we experienced with Go On Gal at Southwell this week. I can only presume that the tests are to identify the use of 'milkshakes' which can be given to a horse an hour before a race and help improve performance but I don't know how as I have no experience with them. It quickly clears from the horse's system so can't be detected after a race. Yes, they should be looking for people using these methods as it is cheating but they take it a bit too far by forcing some horses to have a blood test just half an hour before their race. Go On Gal hates needles and her annual flu vaccination is a nightmare as she goes mad when the vet walks in her stable. You can only imagine how she was when a vet approached her with a needle to take a blood sample just before she ran. Despite getting upset, the vet was determined to get blood and eventually did but by this time Go On Gal was very worked up just 30 minutes before she was due to race. Surely there can be some dispensation when a horse is getting very upset? You won't be surprised to know she ran well below par and is usually a very consistent horse. In the following race, the Qatar Racing horse was also tested despite an aversion to needles and ran a shocker too. The BHA is like a steam train though and once it sets its mind on something, it cannot be stopped despite logic and reason getting in the way.
The day at Southwell was slightly improved later on with Limerick Lord running a good race to bounce back to form with a third place finish. He is very reliable at the track and is sure to add a few more wins there this winter.
Not too many runners this week with most of them coming on Wednesday.
At Lingfield I hope Wilson can fare better than when running there last time after going off too hard and running out of steam. He is well handicapped now so I hope he can start getting competitive.
Over at Kempton, Oud Metha Bridge will also be looking to recover from a poor run two weeks ago. He is normally a model of consistency but ran a very sulky race last time. If he does it again, I'd be tempted to give him a holiday as he hasn't had a proper one for a while but hopefully his last effort was just a blip and he can get back to his usual self at a course he loves.
Going with him to Kempton will be Boxatricks. He continued his progression by gaining his first win at Newcastle last time. Unfortunately the ideal race hasn't come along since so he's dropping back to seven furlongs here which isn't perfect but I hope he has enough speed to get away with it. The handicapper has upped him in the weights but I still think he has some more improvement to come.
The horsebox will then be on the drive until Saturday when What About Barb has her second run in a bumper race. She didn't run too badly last time and should come on for the experience so hopefully she can put in another respectable show.
A couple of our recent purchases are now coming to the boil and should be hitting the track this month. Sea Shack is a big lad and has taken a fair bit of work to get fit but he is a lovely, kind horse who has quickly become a yard favourite. He had good form as a two-year old before losing his way slightly so hopefully the change of scenery will revive him.
Spanish Mane on the other hand came to us in great form with a win last time out in August. She hasn't taken much to get fit again and should be a fun horse on the all-weather and beyond for her syndicate of owners.
Last week didn't quite go to plan with both Wilson and Oud Metha Bridge not showing their best but they both had obvious excuses so we are not too worried and both horses have come out of their races fine so will live to fight another day. The plan with Wilson was to make the running but a few others decided to as well so he ended up going too fast and was tired at the finish. Likewise, Oud Metha Bridge always makes the running but there were a few others in the race doing the same too so he couldn't get to the front after a slow start and sulked a bit when trapped in behind.
Hopefully things go a bit more to plan this week as we'll be at Southwell twice with some good chances.
On Tuesday we have a trio heading there starting with Go On Gal. She was a bit ring-rusty at the track after a holiday last time but she should have sharpened up for it and is in a lower grade now. She is usually reliable so should be back in the thick of things.
Also that day, Limerick Lord and Candesta will be lining up against each other in the last race on the card. Limerick usually runs his best races at Southwell but couldn't get his usual handy position there last time. He dropped 2lbs in the ratings for that run though and also drops in class so he should find things a bit easier and I hope he has a big chance.
Candesta is also well handicapped these days and has won at the track before but it remains to be seen whether he has the hunger to win anymore.
The other runners for the week are also at Southwell on Friday.
Majestic Moon has been saved for a winter campaign and his form at the course last year was very solid. He might just need the run to get back razor sharp but I hope he can still put in a good effort as it is the lowest grade he has run in for a while.
Maazel has become very frustrating as he isn't trying very hard in his races but he continues to fall in the handicap so he might stage a resurgence at some point.