Kempton Park - The Sad Truth

It has been a while since I have written a blog, for that I can only apologise!


2017 is well under way and we have already welcomed home a couple of winners with CAROLINAE and TWIN POINT. CAROLINAE was a particularly satisfactory winner for the team, with her previous visit to Wolverhampton leaving a bad taste in all our mouths after she was knocked sideways by the eventual winner. Anyway, revenge was sweet and we’ve now set our sights firmly on Good Friday and a tilt at the fillies and mares race at Lingfield.


TWIN POINT has been a super star since joining our yard and has quickly developed into a yard favourite. His win last week was his third for us and he also moves on to a career high mark of 82. Sadly, his owners, Fred and Sally Perry were unable to be at Kempton, however their flight home from holiday was made a lot more enjoyable, as I was able to ring them as they boarded the plane to tell them the good news.


In general, it has been a fantastic start to the year, as of our nine runners to make the track in 2017, eight of them have finished in the first four places. With SENTINEL and BRUNY ISLAND both looking unlucky not to cross the line in front, it is safe to say that the trainer is very happy with how things are going so far.


We have been very quiet over the last week and things won’t start to get interesting until the end of next week when we can look forward to taking a few runners down to Lingfield. TWIN POINT and BEAUCHAMP OPAL, are both pencilled in for Friday, while a couple of horses having their firsts runs for the stable will hopefully run on Saturday. HAJAAM is an unraced three-year-old colt by Invincible Spirit, while FIRE TREE was bought at the Tattersalls Horses in Training sale and will be the first runner for my latest syndicate The Never So Bold Partnership.


On a more political note, as a young enthusiastic racehorse trainer with an opinion, I feel it necessary to express my emotions and thoughts about the recent discussions surrounding Kempton Park and the well documented lack of support behind the Jockey Clubs plans to sell. 


I’m as disappointed as most that horseracing is in a position where it desperately needs to sell off a well serving racetrack like Kempton Park. I wish British horseracing had the funds that Australia, Hong Kong or France have to play with it - but we simply don’t. As a result of some poor historical decision making, many of us have found our backs against the wall financially. However it is the trainers, yard staff, and studs who feel the brunt of this and not the media and punters who have been largely critical of the Jockey Clubs decision. 


Sadly most people are naïve to the fact that the majority of racehorse trainers don’t make a penny from training.


So you have to wonder;


How many more trainers do we need to lose before the press realise that there are drastic decisions that need to be made for the long term benefit of the sport?


How many more British owner breeders needed to be forced out of the sport because it is no longer financially viable to own a racehorse?


It is all very well people reminiscing romantically about the glory days of Desert Orchid and other stunning jumps horses, but we are staring into an abyss. The opportunity to sell Kempton is a opportunity that racing simply must grab with both hands. The government is in desperate need of places to build houses and in Kempton Park, horseracing is in possession of some incredibly valuable land (£100 million minimum) that is perfect for development.


The money accrued from its sale will safeguard racings future, wipe out Jockey Clubs debts, and give those people who make racing happen on a day to day basis a chance to earn what they deserve. In Roger Weatherby, Simon Bazalgette and the rest of the Jockey Club board we have a team dedicated to doing what is best for our sport and whose mandate is to only act in its best interests. I whole heartedly believe they have always and will always do this.


I would implore anyone reading this who feels against the Kempton plans, to think twice before encouraging our sport to let history repeat itself. British racing is more competitive than any other country globally. British horses are more sought after than in any other racing jurisdiction, and yet the people responsible for this are not sufficiently rewarded or appreciated. We have a chance to improve this situation, not completely, but improve it none the less.


Please don’t be part of the camp that allows another opportunity to slip through our fingers.


I have said nothing of the plans to build a replacement all-weather track in Newmarket quite  deliberately. That is because on this subject I sympathise whole heartedly with those racegoers who live in the London area, the owners whose travel costs will increase because their horses are trained down south, and obviously with the trainers whose life will be seriously inconvenienced by the move up north. I haven’t heard of any alternative locations for the racetrack but if there are other options, then it would only seem fair that these are given the appropriate consideration


Charlie Fellowes is a Racehorse Trainer based in Newmarket, Suffolk

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