#OffTheBridle with J.T McCoy - Part 1
Horse Racing : #OffTheBridle Week 1
Welcome - here’s a bit about me before we get down to the serious business.
One horse-racing jargon buster tells us that ‘a tired horse that reduces his effort’ is considered to be ‘off the bridle’.
If the same applied to humans, you could definitely say I am off the bridle and have been for some time; I don’t travel strongly through the race that is life – I race lazily and need reminders early on, every day. Even AP McCoy (no relation) would struggle to get a tune out of me. He’d need to repeat his Wichita Lineman miracle from 2009 at the very least.
But what I might lack in motivation and energy I most certainly make up for in passion. Not in a Jilly Cooper, bunk-up in the stables kind of way, but just a love and appreciation for the sport. Living in Wiltshire I am surrounded by top yards (both jumps and flat) and can watch strings from various yards working on the gallops within a few minutes’ walk from JT towers. No finer sight.
So, having established that I race lazily and need keeping up to my work, it is somewhat ironic that it's strong travelling horses that make the hairs on my neck stand up and have done so ever since my love for the Sport of Kings began in 2003.
Harchibald, in 2005 especially, practically had me shivering under the ice cool rides of Paul Carberry. That he found absolutely nothing when asked the question and was invariably passed or repelled with ease in the final 100 yards of each race, is minor detail.
When I hear Richard Hoiles and co announce that a horse is ‘travelling all over the opposition’ or ‘cantering’, or that the pilot ‘hasn’t moved a muscle’ while the rest are ‘flat to the boards’, I am almost in tears – tears of appreciation, tears of awe, tears of respect. Is there any finer exemplar of sporting excellence than one runner in a race of equals showing that he/she is head and shoulders ahead above the rest on that day?
Think Mo Farah lengthening his stride on the last lap of the 10,000 metres whilst the Kenyans and Eritreans are sprinting but look like they’re treading water. Think a Mercedes F1 car stalking a Ferrari, waiting in the slipstream before easing past and, with minimal effort, opening up a healthy lead.
Understandably, some of you will have little time for the ‘on the bridle’ crew, preferring the dogged battlers and dour stayers. That’s the beauty of the sport – whatever style of horse or even jockey you prefer, there’s something for everyone. What binds us all together, regardless of personal preferences, is that we are at the mercy of the unpredictability of each and every race. And if you happen to prefer horses that are neither strong travellers nor gritty stayers, but perhaps are held up in the rear of each race and produced late due to possessing a decent turn of foot, checkout the most recent victory, in the TJ Smith Stakes at Randwick, Australia, of the flying machine that is Chautauqua, quite an incredible sight. Wonder what it traded at in running on the exchanges…..500/1, 1000/1?
A quick call to one of Chautauqua’s team a few weeks ago heard me mention the possibility of Royal Ascot.
Sadly, that possibility was ruled out, this year at least….
So, along with my ramblings and (sometimes) serious opinions, we should really add a punting angle to this column shouldn’t we? Throw a bit of money at our relationship, spice things up etc etc.
Join me next week and we’ll take a look at how to invest some of your hard-earned over the summer. Whether you’re a big hitter like J P McManus or a fiver each-way man like myself, you’ve got to start by picking the right horses. I can’t promise to have all the answers, but we’ll have bloody good fun trying. If I can get the top brass to brush the cobwebs off their wallets, we might even open a 'Blog bank’ and follow the P & L as we go along.
Thinking of betting, I must remember to tell you about the day I turned £15 into £9k. “What a prick” I hear you cry.
Maybe, but it’s a great story nonetheless. Until next time.
Whilst my opinions and thoughts effectively come from outside of the horsey world, you should check out The Sporting Blog’s interview with top jockey Fergus Sweeney - a fascinating insight into what it takes to be successful in such a competitive sport.