Monday Update…

Comparing this years Kentucky Derby to this years Epsom Derby would be like comparing mud wrestling at an airport area titty-bar in Cincinnati to the National Ballet at Sadlers Wells.

I will admit though that they both do have a certain entertainment value.

If the powers that be insist on running the Kentucky Derby in the slop and at the same time insist on a full field of 20 horses,… there will be a possibly industry terminating disaster. Just a matter of time…

The damn Grizzly Bear showed up again. I am finding it difficult to maintain my self-assessed high level of sophistication acquired through a life of hobnobbing with the world’s rich and famous while wandering around the yard with a shotgun under my arm constantly looking over my shoulder for a large hairy carnivore that might actually eat me. I am trying to be Royal Ascot while looking and acting like Jed Clampett. I would like to think that the world values my opinion and good taste, at least the bear values my good taste.

I have a message to every body who is enjoying or has enjoyed a reasonable amount of success in the thoroughbred racing industry….. Listen Up….       We are not curing cancer here… We are not rescuing babies from burning buildings… Actually we are not doing anything at all that benefits society in any way whatsoever. We are providing trivial entertainment, mostly for the idle rich, using horses as a tool. This occurred to me late in the game during a flight back from the UK about a decade ago. I was feeling chuffed with myself having been quickly flown over and back specifically to examine a horse for purchase by a stupidly wealthy egomaniac client. During the return flight I was somewhat prodded into conversation by this very nattily dressed and irritatingly handsome young man in the next seat. In hindsight I went on perhaps a bit too long about how very valued my “expert” opinion on expensive race-horses was and after explaining the whole process and especially my priceless contribution to it, I felt obligated to ask the wide-eyed and obviously impressed inferior exactly what he was doing on the flight. He was visibly self-conscious as he explained briefly and in a soft low voice that he was a Stanford grad and a surgeon, performing free cleft-palate operations on tribal children in Africa for Doctors Without Borders. Virgin-Atlantic Airlines provided them with a free flight home to visit family once a year.

I literally crawled into the seat cushion with the peanut shells and sucked on my thumb for the rest of the flight. Honestly.

Has any of you ever seen and heard John Gosden give an interview after winning a major race? Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love and respect John Gosden. I just wish he would talk to me more often…. kind of. I often find myself hoping the Gosden horse wins the race I’m watching just so I can sit back and enjoy the silky-smooth seamless stream of incredible self-aggrandizing but entertaining bullshit that effortlessly flows from his pie-hole during the inevitable interview. Aiden O’Brien is absolutely painful to watch as he predictably praises the team while uncomfortably staring down at his own shoes. Painful, like a root-canal painful. John Gosden eloquently looks and sounds like he is accepting the Nobel Peace prize.

In my opinion John Gosden could be the best race-horse trainer on earth. He would do well to find himself sitting next to that Doctor sometime. Everybody in racing would. Maybe if he flew coach.

I vividly remember the horse that that pompous client flew me over to look at that time. Of course I bought it. A dismal failure. Useless. Beyond useless. Absolutely fucking useless.

So I am in the middle of delivering yet another misinformed and flawed explanation last week detailing that the bear has not been seen this year because of the high likelihood that the bear, finding itself devoid of companionship has decided to swim off of the island to another where a suitable mate is more likely to be found when the poor sap who is wasting his time listening to me points over my shoulder and says, “isn’t that a bear right over there?” I looked back over my shoulder and responded “Of course that’s a bear. Haven’t you ever seen a fucking bear before?”

The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP for short) have released a statement stating their opposition to the proposed law that would eliminate the race-day administration of Lasix. Medication currently administered for profit by said veterinarians to virtually every race horse in every horse race at every race track in North America. In their opinion eliminating the use of this medication on race day would be detrimental to the longterm health and well-being of the veterinarian. Oops!,.. Typo!,.. Sorry! I mean the horse. Of course they meant the well-being of the horse!!! Let’s ask Exxon-Mobil what they think about climate change.

I have never liked the habit in Europe of putting hoods over horses heads in order to load them in the gate. It was bound to end in disaster sooner or later and now it has. Stupid idea to begin with. While I am on a Europe bashing role here you can stop with those absolutely ridiculous Monty Roberts blankets for the gate as well. How about schooling and teaching the horse to load and behave in the gate to begin with. Horses do not get hooded or blanketed to load in America and even the craziest ones seem to go in just fine. We may be incapable of teaching a horse to canter down to the start without being dragged beside a lead horse but at least they go in the gate when they get there. More professional gate attendants might be a good idea. And just say no to cheekpieces. Those fluffy furry fuzzy fucking flaps are not doing anyfuckingthingatall. Unless you are only interested in making yourself and your horse look silly,… in which case you’re spot on. If you hate the idea of putting blinkers on your horse but you honestly believe your horse really needs them,…. well maybe you should consider therapy.  Every single one of those million dollar breeze-up horses that Kerri bought in America had blinkers on when they breezed so damn impressively. Didn’t she notice? Doesn’t care? Now what? Fluffy furry fuzzy cheekpieces and a Monty Roberts blanket? The hood makes it look like they are headed to the gallows…. and so does the look on the jock’s face when they throw it on.

John Ferguson got the sack at Godolphin. Gee, I thought that they were having a pretty good year. I wonder if that makes M.V. “The Judge” nervous. I wonder if anything makes M.V. “The Judge” nervous? The family solicitor showing up at the house with an eraser might make him nervous.

In my experience around racehorses the amount of knowledge any person claims to possess in regards to racehorses virtually mirrors their level of ignorance in the same regard. On the same note, the more real knowledge and experience earned invariably leads to the understanding and sobering realization of just how ignorant one actually is. Beware the young tike who claims to know it all but take time to listen to the old guy on the shank who admits to having a lot to learn.

That probably applies to bears as well as horses.

Even a Grizzly Bear would have more sense than this…



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9 thoughts on “Monday Update…”

  1. You are spot on . I love horseracing but can’t bear it (sorry) when everyone takes it so serious. John Golden could read you’re obituary while you’re still alive and you would have to enjoy it. I’m Irish so Aidan is a saint here can’t criticise him. Actually Ger Lyonshall is quite funny you should listen to him. Love it Paul

  2. Mark, Just a xcouple of comments – funnily enough both concern a horse called Saseedo: He won several decent h’caps here [meaning he would almost certainly have been a SW over there], which would definitely not have happened without Monty’s rug. Alsso I came up with the cheekpieces [ based on Kant-see-bak bridle] for him – I don’t remember the details but it was likely that I didn’t want to commit to blinkers until I saw what the race looked like. The sheepskin ought to go on a noseband – the way most people use it makes little sense since the cheekpiece of the bridle goes loose as the bit is pulled up in the horses mouth.
    Our stalls are very different to yours, and are apparently designed to cause the maximum trouble. As you point out, we are very short of handlers – if you horses regularly stood in the gate for several minutes during loading then I’m sure that yo’d have more bad actors.. Personally I’d go back to the old tape: cheap to run, the “riders” would drop their jerks, and 33% of favourites would still win.
    I’m not sure what to advise about the bear – however if you schooled it a little in Monty’s comealong and could get it to join up then your worries would be over.

    1. Just my luck, i totally throw cheekpieces under the bus only to find out one of my readers actually invented the furry fuzzy damn things. Reminds me of that scene in the classic film Caddyshack where Rodney Dangerfield spends ten minutes trashing this funny hat on display in the pro shop only to turn around and face a guy wearing the very same hat. “It looks good on you though!” was the perfect response. I am not at all a fan of blinkers (used far too often in America, sometimes to the detriment of the horse) but when they are actually needed they are a useful tool. I have not yet been convinced that the “blanket” has any value whatsoever. I will give you the opportunity to sell me on it when we speak… (I am a pushover). I have also always thought that the starting gate was a bit of a big eyesore contraption machine, and obviously can be dangerous, (I am missing a front tooth that I left in the starting gate at Hollywood Park about 40 years ago, thankfully the black eyes healed up) I kinda like the tape. Really.
      Send the salt. I can always throw on a handful the next time I am checking the gender….. All the best, Mark

    2. It is my understanding the Monty Roberts rug was developed from a suggestion of Sir Mark Prescott’s that the picador’s caparison is good protection against a bull’s horns, and in medieval times against arrows.
      English stalls are considerably smaller than American ones as they are transported from course to course and as a result are less welcoming for horses to enter and remain in. We also have a lot of runners in many of our races, and fewer handlers, so the loading process takes much longer.

      1. Certainly one of Mark’s was the first one to try it on the track, so him being a major aficionado, that makes sense. Monty said re our stalls “if you want to cause a problem, then these are just the thing!”. Of course that was some time ago, and the stalls have been changed since then. Unfortunately the present model has all the defects without the weight and solidarity of the original. As Gerry Scott remarked when he was chief starter ” you don’t imagine that the authorities ask us when they decide to make a change, do you?!”

  3. Sorry for typos in earlier post, and for neglecting a vital piece of advice re bear. We have a brand of table salt which recommends catching a chicken by applying this to its tail; I’m sure that this would be equally effective on the bear, although you may need an assistant to apply the salt while you yourself fit the war bridle.

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