Survey on US racecourse safety gives rough ride to dirt diehards
Thursday 01 July 2010
The Americans have opened up a contentious new front in a civil war with critical international ramifications. For those conservatives who cannot come to terms with the revolution in racing surfaces there must now explain a survey that appears to demonstrate a massive improvement in attrition rates on the new, synthetic tracks.
Quite apart from the moral imperatives of welfare, this bitter debate will also govern Europe's prospects of building on its unprecedented success at the last two Breeders' Cup, the first ever staged on a synthetic track.
The study was conducted by Equibase on behalf of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and embraced 444,848 starts by North American racehorses in 2009. Statistics on dirt races yielded a toll of 0.39 per cent starters failing to complete the final race of their careers, compared with just 0.19 per cent on synthetic surfaces – even safer, on the face of it, than turf with 0.26 per cent.
Predictably, there has already been an aggressive reaction to the findings from some horsemen, who protest that statistics can distort a multitude of latent trends. Another survey, published almost simultaneously from a smaller sample, had found no "statistically significant difference" in fatal breakdowns on different surfaces. It did imply a worse attrition rate on dirt, but its compilers suggested that they require much more data before drawing any secure conclusions. Even so, the onus would seem increasingly upon those who cannot be reconciled to artificial surfaces to demonstrate that they are not relegating welfare issues beneath their own vested, commercial interests.
Their responsibilities to equine safety make even turf management hard work for men like Andrew Cooper, the clerk of the course at Sandown. He was watering the track yesterday in the hope of providing conditions "on the fast side of good" for the Coral Eclipse Stakes on Saturday.
Henrietta Knight yesterday announced the recruitment of a stable jockey for the first time since the retirement of Jim Culloty, who rode Best Mate for her, in 2005. Hadden Frost, who crowned his emergence as a promising conditional by winning a handicap at the Cheltenham Festival on Buena Vista, will leave David Pipe in September. "Hadden impressed us when he rode a couple for us last season, and he's a talented young jockey," Knight said.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Ting Ting (2.0 Haydock) Has a top-class American pedigree and looks worth following now that she has found her feet, still rated only 60 after winning her first handicap at Redcar.
Sarasota Sunshine (8.10 Newbury) Flourished for Nick Littmoden last season and resumed her progress when reappearing for a new stable.
One to watch
Deauville Flyer (T D Easterby) Could manage only fifth when well backed for the Northumberland Plate, but hinted at further progress, never able to get into top gear after meeting traffic.
Where the money's going
Coral laid Starspangledbanner to 9-4 favourite from 5-2 for the Darley July Cup at Newmarket tomorrow week, and Marchand D'or from 25-1 to 20-1.
Latest in Sport
Manchester City vs Manchester United combined XI: No place for Yaya Toure... or any United defenders
EXCLUSIVE: F1 heading for eastern revolution as new team emerges from Romania
Impressive Kurt Zouma may save Chelsea millions by replacing John Terry
Daniel Sturridge injury: Liverpool striker suggests problems could be linked with 'Caribbean vibes'
Capital One Cup fifth-round draw: Chelsea meet Derby, Tottenham face Newcastle, Liverpool travel to Bournemouth
- 1 2015 General Election: Green party will not appear in TV debate alongside Ukip – says BBC
- 2 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 3 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
- 4 North Korean officials 'publicly executed for watching South Korean soap operas'
- 5 Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
Nigel Farage and Frankie Boyle clash over Andrew Lawrence's 'Mock the Week' criticism
£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...
£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Glou...
£18000 - £20400 per annum + Accommodation, Flights, Medical Cover: Randstad Ed...
£45 - £55 per day: Randstad Education Preston: We are looking for an experienc...