RACING AHEAD with Tony McCormick

Racing Ahead with Tony McCormick
Racing Ahead with Tony McCormick
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Racing pundit Tony McCormick from and racing radio station speaks to Matt Bisogno of the UK’s number one independent racing site about the recent spate of horses entering the winners enclosure following ‘wind operations’ including three at the Cheltenham Festival.

Matt explained in part one of the interview how punters were hit hard in the pocket at Cheltenham as Kim Bailey’s Darna, the biggest winning starting price of the week, beat the heavily gambled 11/2 favourite, Monetaire in the Festival Plate.

The issue for the BHA in my opinion - and it’s a far broader issue than just the subject of wind ops - is a lack of communication.

Matt Bisogno

I started the second part of the interview by asking Matt how far back does the issue of ‘wind ops’ go back with him.

“This is not a new phenomenon, and nor is the lack of official data regarding such procedures a new issue. Greg Wood raised the point over a year ago in a Guardian article. In that piece, written after high profile - and big priced - Saturday wins for Knockara Beau (66/1) and The Rainbow Hunter (25/1, trained by Bailey), Wood argued that the information should be added to race cards as a matter of course.”

What would be the solution then? According to Matt: “This minor surgical procedure, which is known to help excitable horses settle, is flagged on the race card. As such, it provides a strong precedent for the inclusion of breathing operations in the same way, as it demonstrates that the mechanism by which trainers can notify the central bodies largely already exists.

“Specifically, the trainer simply amends the details on their HIT (Horses In Training) list on the BHA website to state a horse has been gelded. The information is also added to a horse’s ‘passport’.”

Unfortunately, as expected, the BHA did not reply to any communication from me or Matt in the last seven days.

So what is the BHA’s problem?

Matt continued: “Although I’m far more comfortable - and confident in my position - discussing the public wind op disclosure issue from a betting information perspective, there is a further possible consideration which may be a factor in the BHA’s lack of progress. And that is one of public perception.

“Put simply, the scarring of an animal (‘hobday’) or the placement of sutures to hold open the airway (‘tie back’) will not read well in some quarters, despite the fact they are largely painless procedures and lead to better health and less stress in the operated animal subsequently, as I understand it.”

“The issue for the BHA in my opinion - and it’s a far broader issue than just the subject of wind ops - is a lack of communication. The team at High Holborn seem to make statements, or kick off working parties, without ever getting to a point of conclusion that results in positive change. Or, at least, without getting to a point where those conclusions are shared with the public.”