Current field sizes are "very worrying" for everyone involved in the racing industry, says Racing TV Ambassador Paul Mulrennan, who also provides the inside track on his rides at Thirsk on Friday, plus Ripon on Saturday.
It’s very worrying when you see Ripon being unable to stage the consolation race for the Great St Wilfrid. In days gone by, when my wife Adele was apprentice for Dandy Nicholls, he’d have runners galore, with the horses being spread across the full width of the track.
Those in charge of wider race-planning surely must look at a high-profile fixture like Saturday’s and think wow; there are problems, big problems. Other fixtures at Newbury (47), Doncaster (41) and Newmarket (41) have also drawn small fields for their respective seven-race cards.
We talk about this situation every single week, but nothing ever seems to be done. The wider economy is struggling, and our sport is suffering a massive prize-money crisis, and a staffing crisis. Where will racing be by this time next year? Where will racing be in the next three to five years?
After a couple of days off, the weekend starts early with four booked rides at Thirsk.
Muker (6.07pm) was a useful juvenile for Phil Makin, and he’s making his first start for Paul Midgley in the five-furlong handicap. He is returning from a lengthy absence and, while I don’t know what the issue was, it’s great to see him back on the track. This race promises to be informative for the future.
Valley Of Flowers (6.40pm) ran well at Catterick last time (third) and if she can reproduce that level of form, she’ll be bang there in a weak race. The quicker ground is a slight concern, but Thirsk always do an excellent job and, if I’m completely honest I can’t remember the last time that I rode on very fast ground anywhere. At Thirsk, the track is always well watered (bends especially), and the grass is kept long. Redcar, Thirsk and York are all tracks which do a superb job of maintaining the racing surface.
Havanawing (7.50pm) is an outsider but Burning Emotion (8.25pm) should be more competitive in the finale. Julie Camacho has her horses in top-form, and her filly has been knocking at the door in recent weeks. By Mondialiste, and from a dam who was a half-sister to a 1m Listed winner, she should appreciate the 7f trip.
Tom Dascombe’s Misty Grey kept a cap on the weights in the Great St Wilfrid, which meant that the weights didn’t rise, so I was unable to take the ride on Emperor Spirit. However, I’m fortunate to have four other booked rides.
Dropping back in trip will suit Florida Filly (1.40pm) in the Hornblower. Six furlongs was simply too far for her at York. Despite the small field, it’s a good little race.
Excel Power (3.25pm) has his sights lowered after running in stronger company and this looks to be a potentially decent opportunity. He ran to a Racing Post Rating of 102 when winning at Windsor in May.
Make A Prophet (4.00pm) didn’t quite get home last time at Beverley, but overall, the step up in trip seems to have helped and Ripon is a slightly easier track. He’s been knocking at the door, bumping into the well-handicapped Shimmering Sands (pair clear) that afternoon, so you’d say that he should run well.
Felix Adler (4.33pm) is lowly rated and finished well behind Make A Prophet at Beverley, so we’ll just have to hope that he’s able to show improvement for the new trip (1m4f).
I’m looking forward to riding Wor Willie at Pontefract on Sunday (2.25pm). He won well recently over C&D and is still a lightly raced horse. I’ve said previously that I think he’ll be even better next year. He faces just three rivals, including the hat-trick seeking Glory And Honour.
As things currently stand, it looks like I will only be riding at York on Saturday. With a little more luck, we’d have been looking at a possible ride of the year contender with Euchen Glen at Goodwood. He’s come out of that race in great shape with Jim’s horses still flying, so I’m just hoping that some rain will materialise ahead of the Ebor.
Makanah ran a hell of a race in the Stewards’ Cup (seventh of 28). As it turned out we were drawn on the wrong side of the track, and he’ll head next for the five-and-a-half-furlong sprint on Ebor day which should be about perfect for him.
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