Trainers divided on York ground

Criticism from some trainers over the state of the ground at York's Ebor meeting last week brought a strong response yesterday from Chief Executive and clerk of the course William Derby.

Mark Johnston suggested on his website that the conditions were responsible for some disappointing runs from his horses. "Now, in all weathers, you are as likely to see a horse coming over to the stand rail as you to see one staying on the inside. They are all over the place. Most of us would have expected the extensive drainage York to make the racing surface faster an the times consequently quicker, but excessive watering has resulted in a permanently loose surface and as far as I can see the times are slower."

Derby acknowledged that jockeys had used the full width of the course to try and find faster ground, but suggested that there was no advantage on any particular part of the track. "Our judgement was the ground was consistent from rail to rail and cross strait. I think you will find, looking at the tapes, that horses won on all sides of the track and a centre, so I'm not aware there was any bias."

Responding specifically to Johnston's point about watering Derby said, "the ground was not watered. We got positive feedback from jockeys and people who walked the course. Quite naturally they said it was dead or a bit sticky, but that is what you get when it rains and then dries out. If we had not invested £2.5 million in the drainage system that would have meant the ground would have been considerably easier than it was."

Johnston's views were not shared by fellow trainer Richard Fahey who said, "I have never heard so much rubbish in all my life. It was beautiful ground. They had a colossal amount of rain and I thought the drainage worked. It could have been a quagmire with the amount of rain they had and they did a fantastic job."

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2 replies
  1. Matt Bisogno says:

    I think Johnston’s comments are bizarre and reek of sour grapes, given how many of his horses win on fast ground.

    Surely firm is much more dangerous than soft ground, as the horses have more chance of sustaining injury.

    And, to the comments by Racing Post’s chief tipster, Tom Segal, that the track was “a total mess” and one that now produces “unfathomable results”, I say this: I backed a 25/1 winner on Thursday (Dazinski, returned 20/1) , another on Friday (Margot Did), and a third on Saturday (Moyen Corniche in the Ebor).

    All were logical and based on a combination of trends, trainers and going.

    Moreover, the six trainers I gave readers to follow recorded a level stakes profit at SP of 27.25 points, which was over 75% ROI. At Betfair SP, the profit was over 55 points. From 36 bets!

    So, Messrs. Johnston and Segal, I’m afraid if you couldn’t find winners at York, the inquest should start at home rather than abroad. The data was there for you…


    Segal, if you can’t factor that into your wagering, then you might need to look at your methods rather than blaming the track.

  2. Tony Coleman says:

    Johnston always has been a whinger when it comes to his horses not delivering what he wants. A case of a spoilt Scot throwing his toys out of the pram.

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