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Food For Thought – Mullins ‘Disses’ Killarney Dish

'The Offending Salad'

'The Offending Salad'

Many may have missed the latest episode surrounding racecourse meals provided for the jockeys.

Danny Mullins was the latest rider to lose his rag over the quality of grub supplied to the guys and gals on the front line of our great industry. It’s just possible that he may end up paying far more than the €5 Killarney charged for a salad, if Cathy Gannon’s experience is anything to go by.

On Wednesday Mullins voiced his annoyance and placed a photo on social media of the offending meal. The picture certainly didn’t flatter the alleged chicken salad. A less than amused Mullins said on his Twitter page: “Great value for the salad €5 @KillarneyRaces wouldn't feed a rabbit!" He added: “A few of the tracks provide food for jockeys that is well below standard. I hate to be the one giving out about it. I've only been riding for a few years and even in that time I have seen a dramatic improvement in the quality of food at a lot of tracks.”

Of course the standard of food is a very subjective matter. The offending salad may well have appealed to the likes of Flat Jockey George Baker, who has to survive on far less to maintain his riding weight.

In May Cathy Gannon was fined for raising the issue in similar fashion when she tweeted a picture of food at Newbury Racecourse. She took photos of two dishes and said: “This is the quality of food at @NewburyRacing this is our fuel #athletes.” Following a report from the clerk of the course stating that Gannon had taken a photograph on her mobile phone from within the jockeys’ changing room, which she later put on Twitter, they interviewed the rider.

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Having heard the evidence, stewards found her to be in breach of rule (D)33.1. The subsequent £290 fine was no doubt harder to swallow than anything the Newbury canteen could have dished up. Paul Struthers; Professional Jockeys Association Chief Executive, later commented: “Fined £290 for taking a picture after you've finished riding and tweeting it after leaving the racecourse. #pathetic.”

Thankfully Cathy’s colleagues helped pay for the fine and thereby softened the blow. Danny Mullins may need similar assistance should the matter at Killarney be taken further.

Their racecourse manager Micheal Lucey spoke of the issue, saying: “I am a bit perplexed about it really as Dr McGoldrick (Senior medical officer of the Turf Club) only commented to me this morning on how much we had done to improve the food for jockeys at Killarney. Concerns were raised previously by Davy Russell and we spoke to Dr McGoldrick about the situation. He had a dietician compile a sheet on nutrition and what type of food we needed to be serving.”

Mullins did go on to praise Gowran Park and Wexford racecourses for the way they have improved the quality of their food, and added that Galway, Leopardstown and Punchestown also provide better quality nourishment.

The jockey was less complimentary of Kilbeggan and Clonmel, naming them as two other tracks needing to step up. Leading rider Davy Russell appeared to back Mullins when responding on twitter with: “@dan2231 @KillarneyRaces it's a bit of a joke really it's just a low grade track with them facilities.”

The Professional Jockeys Association has their own Nutrition team, tasked with supporting and educating riders on foods essential for a successful career. Just how close a relationship they have with racecourses is unclear, and is something that I am currently looking into. But it seems likely that racecourses may well benefit from a level of input from the PJA Nutrition experts, hopefully setting a standard that both jockeys and the courses could agree on.

A huge fine for a disgruntled and hungry jockey is simply unacceptable. Let’s hope this latest voice is heard and acted upon in a rather more positive fashion.

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Stat of the Day, 23rd September 2012

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day, 23rd September 2012

A fine shout by Chris yesterday, and a very good run from No Quarter, who tracked the pace-setting leader, but could never quite peg him back. He stuck on for third, rewarding those of you who bet the 7/1 shot each way. For SotD purposes, it will go down as a loser, however, as we nominated a win only bet.

It's worse than trappy today, and as I've given Chris the day off - well earned of course, and he's off to Uttoxeter races - I thought I'd put up a real randomizer poke this afternoon! 😉

In truth, the horse could as easily finish last as first, but that is factored into his price. Let's head across the water to the…

2.45 Gowran Park

A twenty runner handicap hurdle is rarely an obvious place to go pin-sticking for a Stat of the Day selection, but there really is a dearth of options on the British side of the Irish Sea.

Consequently, we'll row in with the top weight here, a horse with recent form figures under both flat and National Hunt codes of 00000. Yes, this really is a dark 'un!

As ever with Stat of the Day, though, that tells but part of the story. Bachelor Affair is a ten year old now. And he's recently been running on what would have been unsuitably soft ground in the main.

Today, back on a quicker surface and, more materially, back at Gowran Park, he must have a chance in a race where his historical performances dictate he shoulders the  most weight. In other words, the pick of his form is the best in the race.

For those who don't know, top weights in handicaps win more often than second top weights, which in turn win more often than third top weights... and so on, in beautifully linear fashion all the way down the weight scales. Of course, that doesn't mean that Bachelor Affair will win, nor even that he has the best chance, today. But it does mean that he's not the hopeless case that his recent form and odds imply.

Let's look at his record more closely: six career wins, five of them over hurdles, and three of them here at Gowran Park (from just five tries). His most recent win, this time last year, was off a one pound higher mark (117), and on softer than ideal ground - all other wins on good or firmer. Today's going is currently good.

All six wins were over today's two mile trip, and this is the easiest race he's entered since his last win.

The pace scenario looks promising, with our boy a confirmed front-runner on a strong pace-favouring course/distance. Norther Bay, another with a squeak, likes to race very close to the pace too, but Bachelor Affair might just get his own way out front. His jockey, Tommy Treacy, has ridden all six of his wins and so knows exactly how to ride him.

In short, he's a punt with a chance... and he's 28/1! That's best odds guaranteed with William Hill, and each way is the obvious play, with four safety net places. Bachelor Affair could easily run down the field this afternoon, but he's never a 28/1 shot, given his form as recently as three to five starts back over hurdles, which was 131.

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