Thursday, 1 June 2017

Living the Dream

We all have dreams. I don’t mean the ones about standing in the Winners’ Enclosure and then realising that you’re not wearing any clothes, I don’t suppose everyone has those sort of dreams. I mean aspirations, desires of the heart or whatever you want to call them. 

Horseracing is a field of dreams: every owner, every jockey, every trainer; even every racecourse manager... and certainly every punter. We all dream about our big day – the big occasion, a big race or a big win. Racing is nothing without dreams.
It’s the reason why National Velvet is such an enduring story – girl sees pony jump out of field; girl imagines winning Grand National; girl overcomes all the obstacles (literally and figuratively) to achieve her dream. But the thing about racing is that we don’t have to indulge in fiction – dreams come true every day.
On Wednesday it was the turn of Charlotte Jones, who rode her first ever winner on Lough Kent in the Wainwright Ale Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at Cartmel. Sixth at the second last hurdle, Charlotte was still only fourth at the final flight, before scything into the lead in the last 50 yards. She punched the air, smiled and received her sticky toffee pudding before returning to muck out at Jimmy Moffatt’s yard on the other side of the village.
Charlotte Jones wins at Cartmel on Lough Kent 
We now know that Gina Mangan won't be living the dream next Saturday: she's been told by the BHA that she won't be permitted to ride Diore Lia in the Investec Derby. Mangan, an apprentice jockey, had been nominated to partner the outsider by owner-breeder Richard Aylward, who was understandably upset at being informed that the governing body didn’t share his dream.
While the story runs counter to the generally romantic notion of the turf, it’s also quite understandable. How could the BHA possibly defend itself in the event of an accident, knowing that Mangan had ridden just one winner (eight years ago at Roscommon) and has never ridden at Epsom at all. The publicity will be enormous, the stakes high and the potential liability unimaginably huge. It isn’t the BHA’s fault; the blame rests with every single one of us for permitting the risk averse blame culture that pervades modern life.
The heart says that it would be lovely to see Gina Mangan ride in the Derby. The head says I wouldn’t want to be in the Stewards Room if she knocked over one of the favourites. The race will be won by this week’s selection: Permian, ridden by Velvet Brown… I mean William Buick.  

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