Charlie Longsdon is showing a clean pair of heels to rivals this month with 5 winners in November to date, and whilst the focus was largely on Cheltenham 10 days ago, the Chipping Norton team sent a stronger team to Uttoxeter and were rewarded with a double.
Everyone loves a winner at HQ however, even if it comes in a lowly Handicap Hurdle for Conditionals and Amateur Riders (nothing wrong with our amateurs, chorus our Pointing followers to which I agree wholeheartedly). So the Longsdon team fulfilled their obligations with a winner in the Cheltenham Friday opener, ridden by Paul O'Brien. With 68 winners on the board Paul's nearly out of his claim.
One of the interesting trends to emerge from the early behind closed doors start to Pointing this season has been regular streaming of racing to an online audience, with an appropriate 5 minute delay to comply with BHA integrity rules to prevent illegal betting. An innovation that started in Devon & Cornwall is gaining traction elsewhere, and the recent Kimblewick fixture received 7,000 hits. This could represent an interesting opportunity for the sport to monetize these pictures through a Pay Per View platform - Work in progress.
However, the other leading topic in the racing world is the issue of what happens after Brexit's transition phase is concluded in little more than 5 weeks. Even in National Hunt terms, this has potential for considerable disruption.
Presently, the paperwork to bring horses back to the UK or to campaign them overseas is relatively straightforward. And as any glance at a race programme will attest, the number of French-bred animals in British racing is impressive; their precocity and robust breeding has allowed them to steal market share over a market previously dominated by the Irish, to the extent that even a majority of our top chasers and hurdlers come from South, not West.
Scratch beneath the surface of French racing, and British agents and trainers' names appear with regularity. Over the weekend, Bourton trainer Richard Hobson ran a young horse that is evidently planned for transfer to the UK, and just today scored in a valuableConditions Chase at Compiegne under Felix de Giles. Expect to see De Forgotten One, owned by David Fox (owner of National runner-up St Are) and bred by Robert Waley-Cohen's Upton Viva Stud, over here soon.. On Monday, Sophie Leech continued her successful dual campaign with a yard in Newnham and another the other side of the Channel. In fact, she's achieving greater success in France, not just in number of winners, but in prize money won too.
Since November 15th, in just 8 days, 3 runs have mustered up a winner, runner-up, 3rd and 5th placed horse, from which the prize funds amounted to £48,905. Even the fifth placed horse won more than most mid week prizes in the UK. Now, money isn't everything, as any self-respecting owner will tell you, but it sure helps. Sophie's forward-thinking attitude has earned some justifiable plaudits, but also illustrates that there is more than one type of success when it comes to training horses.
Brexit, then, has the potential to put a spanner in these works for the innovators in the racing business, and we have ti hope the authorities will be able to address this when the Paris courses reconvene in the Spring.