An Al Duncan musing

14th November 2010 : Race reading and analysis

You’ve probably got an incling by now, that I love the jumps.
I try to go to the meetings in Scotland and the North, but still, I’m addicted to Racing UK and At The Races.

As a youngster, I was hooked on the sports roundup on radio at 6pm, which were always closed by the full racing results of the day. In retrospect, the TV in those days of the 60s & 70s showed a lot of horse racing, fronted by the BBC’s Peter O’Sullivan and John Rickman on ITV. BBC were my favourite (could never quite take to Wilson, though), but Rickman had a bit of that air of the ‘old school toff’ about him, harmless enough.

Now, these days you don’t have to go too far without a whole heap of people, who are anxious to let you know who are the best and worst racing presenters / tipsters on TV – with the usual culprits appearing in both lists.
Digital TV Racing is no longer in the fledgling category, and these days there are many experienced and knowledgeable presenters on both satellite channels, plus a cast of thousands on Channel 4.

The digital explosion has come at the right time for Lydia Hislop, once a pup reporter on the The Sporting Life, who has worked for both terrestrial stations, and is now a mainstay of Racing UK. She often performs the vital role of studio link on afternoons and evenings, albeit hundreds of miles from the actual racecourses covered. And so it was in that role last Monday, that Lydia provided immediate post race analysis of the 4.05 at Carlisle.

Some may recall this race, Leith Walk ridden by Callum Whillans finished 2nd of 5 to Fair Spin.
As the TV panned into the winners enclosure, Lydia saw fit to add some comments to the effect
    “…Leith Walk was quite confidently ridden, rather misplaced as the horse didn’t get (sic) the last hurdle just quite as well as the horse who he, the jockey, thought was his only danger….”
From my equally remote viewing position, in my opinion, Callum gave Leith Walk a fine ride, taking the outside to let the mare get a good view of her hurdles, keeping hold of her head between the last two, before riding her strongly over the last but being outpaced by Fair Spin.

I’ve just checked Donald’s own website for his pre-race insight.
    “At first glance, this (race) may seem like a good opportunity for the mare (Leith Walk), since she won on her seasonal re-appearance at Musselburgh last season, and has only 4 rivals tomorrow. However, like all our runners to date, Leith Walk will undoubtedly come on for the race, and she has yet to encounter heavy ground.”

I looked at the form book for the mare’s previous race, all of 5 months ago, a crashing fall at Hexham when staying on for a place at best. Oh, dropped 1lb though…
The form book for the favourite Fair Spin showed his position as justified. 8 time winner, good recent flat form, fit, and now going for a hat-trick over hurdles, with the fine James Halliday aboard.

Just a thought, Lydia, but aren’t you being unnecessarily harsh on a young conditional jockey with 2 wins from 128 rides, who on the face of it was most likely following his trainer’s well reasoned instructions to the letter?

But then, they’re easy targets aren't they?

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