Scudamore keeping faith in Stars Over The Sea at Kempton
When I got the ban last Saturday after winning on Soll, I was really cross, and got quite wound up about it, given the severity of the seven day ban and the size of the fine. The fine was big enough but then you factor in the loss of earnings over the seven days at a busy time of year, it’s a big hit.
With the rules as they are everyone gets carried away by the number of times the whip is used, where I think the emphasis should be more on how the stick is used. You can use it five times and use it incorrectly, whether the horse is out of contention, or you strike in the wrong place, not giving the horse time to respond etc. I think sometimes people are blinkered and focus just on the number of times the stick is used.
Ruby Walsh’s use of the stick on Vautour is a prime example. I thought it was a perfect example of how to get the most out of a horse, and he’s been given a two day ban for it because he used the stick too many times. But that’s including slaps down the shoulder, and efforts to keep the horse straight, and it really should have been judged on how the stick was used not how many times.
They’ve down a lot of very good things with the stick. They’ve put lots of money and effort into improving the design of the whip, and introduced hands and heels races to educate the young jockeys. It’s important jockeys are taught how to use the stick. I remember Grandad saying to me that it takes a long time before you learn how to use the stick to the best possible advantage. Yet because of the obsessions with the numbers, you take away the focus on how the stick is being used, and educating jockeys on better use of it.
I heard a really good idea put forward that instances of potential over-use, or incorrect use, of the stick should be referred back to a BHA panel of ex-jockeys and officials who might meet each Wednesday and review each case and decide if a jockey is in breach, and what action to take. There has to be a better way of dealing with this.
I don’t like the way they term these situations as a “win at all costs” ride. It’s frankly rubbish. You try telling that to people in the yard that’ve been looking after and preparing the horse for the race. There are livelihoods at stake in these races, and the difference between Soll winning and losing makes a hell of a lot of difference even to the lads and lasses back in the yard in terms of the pool money that will get shared. The results of these races matter to a wide variety of people, and on Soll I rode the horse to win the race, and I gave him time to respond, I used the stick in the right place.
Even when people look back at the past and say they don’t want to see the whip used as it was then, and they put up the example of Lester on The Minstrel. Well The Minstrel won. And then two weeks later he won the Irish Derby, and then a few weeks after the Irish Derby he won the King George. It’s not as if he had an adverse reaction to that ride.
The sticks we are using now have changed out of all recognition to those days, yet what’s the point of making them air-cushioned, if we aren’t going to educate people watching that the horses’ can hardly feel it when a jockey uses the stick. We’ve proven this. There’s been design after design after design, and it is a completely different stick to the one Lester Piggott used, or Fred Archer used, or even Frankie Dettori used when he first started riding.
I don’t even like the term ‘whipping’ or ‘whip’ as it is an instrument for encouraging a horse, or keeping on the right course, or even just maintaining concentration. It’s an essential tool not something that inflicts pain.
Anyway, I’ve been suspended. I’ve got to take it on the chin. I was cross at the time but I broke the rules and that’s not going to change. I was very pleased for Soll. It’s a wonderful initiative to put on that race for older horses. It was such good prize money for them, and I was very pleased with him.
In the 12.50 at Kempton I ride Balgarry. He fell last time but it was a strange one as he jumped the fence ok but then nodded on landing, did the splits and that was that. This is a competitive race but I still think there is more to come from him. It was a good race around Taunton that he won. I think David has found a good opportunity with this race as there are question marks about some of his rivals. Taunton is one of the tracks most similar to Kempton so I think he’ll like it here.
In the Lanzarote at 2.35 I’m on Dell‘ Arca. He’s probably weighted to his best. If he hadn’t run so disappointingly last time I would have given him a bigger chance today. There are probably one or two who are better handicapped than him. But he will love the ground, and he has an each way chance on his best form.
I ride Poole Master in the 3.10. He’s now back down to his last winning mark but he has been struggling since he won over the big fences at Aintree. He disappointed there last time. He really has to bounce back to his best to figure.
In the last I’m on Stars Over The Sea at 3.45. This is probably the weakest race he’s run in for a while. You look at his fourth at Punchestown and at Aintree and it is Grade 1 form. He has been disappointing in his two starts so far as I thought he’d make into a really nice horse. Things haven’t gone quite right so far. He won his first two juveniles really impressively. If he bounced back to his best then he has a great chance, as it is the weakest race he’s been in. I chose Stars Over The Sea over Heath Hunter. I wouldn’t rule out Heath Hunter as he’s solid but I just picked Stars Over The Sea as off this mark I think he’s got the better chance. It was tough but my decision was based on what I think Stars Over The Sea is still capable of doing.