I think that the stewards exercised their discretion sensibly on Wednesday, as the weight difference can hardly have affected the result at all. Now it is the conditions in the weighing room in which the jockeys and valets spend most of the day that is under attack, with Professional Jockeys’ Association Paul Struthers leading the charge.
He told the Racing Post, “I will be surprised if it doesn’t happen again at Worcester because the changing room is too small. I’ve lost count of the number of complaints I’ve had from valets and jockeys about the facilities at Worcester on a warm day – on any day actually – but it is compounded on a warm day.”
I think there must be a degree of exaggeration here, as Struthers has only been in his post since the start of the year, and I can’t think of too many warm days at Worcester since then for the jockeys to get upset about. And has this just become a problem this year? Were the jockeys not complaining to Kevin Darley, his predecessor?
However, Worcester City Council, which rents the track to Northern & Arena Leisure Group, is determined that all the recent issues don’t represent any long-term threat to the future of racing there. Councillor David Prodger, who represents the council on the local Arena management board said, “I think the course is in Arena’s long-term plan, they wouldn’t have invested all that money if they had a short-term policy and I have no knowledge of anyone wanting to curtail it. They are committed to racing here. Worcester is very popular for a small racecourse.”
Kate Hills, speaking for Arena, recognised the issues Struthers was raising, but claimed there were limitations on what they could to improve things. She said, “The facilities at Worcester are outdated and we completely sympathise with the jockeys. Under the planning regulations we have been told we are not allowed to build or improve buildings on the floodplain. However, we are looking to see what we can do within the restrictions to improve the weighing room and jockeys’ changing areas.”
Seems to me there’s a call here to apply some of the discretion the Government says it has given to local councils and bring in some improvements quickly. The jockeys and valets need better facilities the managers at Worcester are ready to do what they can, so it has to be over to the council to play its part to bring things up to date.