Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Praise for Clerk of Course, a presenter for the future, a 'dark horse' for the Oaks... Blog now available.............................

Clerk of the courses attract plenty of criticism (a job on par with being a traffic warden and a tax inspector in terms of pleasing people) but Neil McKenzie Ross deserves hearty congratulations for his patience.

McKenzie Ross, clerk at Folkestone, called four inspections before deeming, just an hour before the time of the first race, the Kent track was fit to start. A brave call considering the amount of derision he would have been bombarded with if the ground was unfit.

There were only seven non-runners and not one complaint from trainers, who can throw tantrums which would humiliate young children. McKenzie Ross is undoubtedly one of the best in the sport.

Invariably, the first question I’m asked when it’s known that I work with Kieren is ‘what is he like’? I have to say, which will surprise many, he is delightful. Kieren’s problems have been well documented, he can be unpredictable and he still attracts Chinese Whispers.

His work ethic, though, is incredible but obviously with his 47th birthday looming, he can’t be riding 900 plus horses every year as was the case last season. The Championship just eluded him but the quality and desire is still there.

I have worked with the likes of Jason Weaver, Gary Stevens, Kevin Darley, Eddie Ahern and even the mercurial Paul Carberry, and I have to say Kieren has been the easiest to deal with. He never interferes and any mistakes are purely down to me.

My only regret is that I never got him five years ago. In my opinion he is, along with Lester Piggott, Frankie Dettori and Steve Cauthen, one of the best four flat jockeys the sport has seen.

There are plenty of avenues to listen and watch horse racing in this technological age. ATR and Racing UK for pictures and numerous radio stations for audio.

Without a doubt, for me, the best one is Timeform Radio. Now before I’m accused of being biased (I work for the station) anybody that knows me will recognise that is not my style. I say it as I see it.

Like plenty out there I have my opinions on those that I rate and those who shouldn’t be let anywhere near a microphone. What I do know is that my colleague Alan Dudman should be on either of the satellite channels.

There isn’t a presenter that puts in as much preparation, he’s confident and knows how to conduct an interview. His major failing, unlike a lot of his contemporaries, is that he lacks one essential quality – pushiness. He’s on Timeform Radio on Wednesday (www.radio.betfair.com).

I had my first ante-post bet on the flat this year when backing The Fugue at 33-1 with Hills for the Oaks. John Gosden’s daughter of Dansili created a huge impression when landing her maiden at the backend of the season at Newmarket.

The victory was a pleasant surprise for the Newmarket handler and The Fugue certainly looked like the race was needed. Natural improvement should see her develop into a Group performer and she bred to stay 1m 4f.

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