This week’s big news has been the beginning of obligatory declarations of breathing operations by trainers which has left me feeling pretty stupid. Like a lemming in human form I joined in with the rank and file clamouring for the information and outraged at being kept in the dark, but a few conversations with trainer friends have pointed out two things.
Firstly, that there are so many different wind operations that the trainers needed clarification of what exactly was needed, but more importantly, that it rarely makes all that much difference. Some of us were told (but you never know by who), that they are the be all and end all for a punter, that this was some kind of top secret holy grail that would make us all rich, but I am told by trainers I know and trust that yes, it can bring improvement in some horses, but not the high percentage the media implied.
Yes you do seem to hear it given as a reason or an improved performance from a winner in the past but then again it could be used as a “one size fits all” reason when the reality could be a new training regime, different feed or change of jockey.
It will certainly be interesting in the months and years ahead when the statistics unfold, to test out how they work and whether there is anything to them. Although I am 100% all in favour of as much information as possible (you can use it or ignore it that way with horses weights next on my agenda), I do confidently suspect that this will be a damp squib with very little of any use for punters at the end of all the fuss.
On to the racing this weekend and my first mention has to be for our old friend The New One who is looking to win the Unibet Champion Hurdle Trial at 2.40pm for the fourth year in a row. Just the three rivals are bothering to take him on with Ch’Tibello the only possible worry according to the formbook but the ten-year-old takes his racing better than most considering his veteran status and I am rather hoping Sam Twiston-Davies allows him to bowl along in front and try to blunt the finishing speed of his far younger rivals.
I only have one more suggestion this weekend, when Nicky Henderson sends the highly promising Santini to the novice hurdle at 4.05pm over the two miles five and a half furlongs. One comfortable fifteen length point to point win at Didmarton saw her leave Ed Walker for her new stable after going through the sales ring for £150,000 last March. He paid back a very small percentage of that on his hurdling bow at Newbury over a furlong shorter when keeping on strongly to win by four and a half lengths in December. With improvement virtually assured for that experience the six-year-old Milan gelding may well prove far too good for these even though it is an interesting looking field.
The New One 2.40pm Haydock Saturday
Santini 4.05pm Ascot Saturday