AMY MURPHY’S BLOG: The latest horse racing news, Southgate Stables’ Christmas party and the current whip debate

Amy discusses Southgate Stables and their Christmas party, the latest horse racing news and the current debate regarding the use of the whip.

Amy Murphy

This week’s update falls on a big day in the calendar for my team, namely the stable Christmas party!

El Guaca is the venue of choice here in Newmarket, an excellent Mexican restaurant who I’m hoping won’t be too liberal with the tequila – we’ll still be feeding and mucking out shortly after 6am tomorrow – though I’m fairly confident there’ll be a few sore heads among the team.

Joking aside, we have an outstanding group here at Southgate Stables and they very much deserve to let their collective hair down. Without their hard work, care and attention the show literally wouldn’t go on, so I’m more than happy to see the guys being rewarded.

On that note, one who deserves a special mention is young Connor Fox, a super young lad – just 21 years old – who 12 months ago didn’t know the first thing about working in a racing stable or with horses.

Talk about progress – he’s just been nominated for a prize in the Stud & Stable Staff awards.

That’s mainly because he’s learned the job inside-out. You couldn’t meet a more enthusiastic member of staff – he eats sleeps and breathes horses, and nearly had the perfect Saturday…

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Connor comes from Hereford, so it made sense on every level for him to lead up our runner at his local track on a day where his friends and family nearly took over the paddock, as Logan Rocks travelled there not without a chance to contest the junior bumper in the hands of Jack Quinlan.

They acquitted themselves really well too, leading for the opening mile and a half before settling down to contest a very close finish, in which we went down by just a neck to a decent looking horse of Jonjo O’Neill’s.

Bearing in mind they pulled 37 lengths clear of the remainder, this was a solid display, especially when you recall Logan Rocks is only a big, raw baby, and will continue to improve physically.

Had he won it would have been a memorable ‘cross the card’ double for us, because three hours earlier Jack had been with me in Doncaster, partnering Esprit De Baileys to hard fought success in the opening novices’ hurdle.

On paper it looked a very warm contest, with an odds-on favourite from the in-form Alan King stable, but in the event it was one of Derbyshire trainer John Mackie’s who gave us most to sweat about.

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John is a top man and had enjoyed a 25/1 winner at the same track on Friday, and on this occasion his Lunar Jet led approaching the last after ‘Baileys’ had made a mistake two out, but Jack galvanised our fella for a renewed challenge and got on top to run out a deserved three quarters of a length winner.

I’m confident there’s more to come from Esprit De Baileys – stick him in the notebook as one to keep an eye on – while keeping your fingers crossed Jack doesn’t get a speeding ticket for his efforts in haring from Doncaster to Hereford – 150 miles in two hours is good going I think!!

Lastly, the debate about jockeys using the whip has been prominent in the media recently, which if discussed fairly and in a balanced manner is far from a bad thing.

What’s often overlooked is that jockeys themselves are all horse lovers and would be the last people in the world who would wish harm or distress on the creatures their livelihoods depend on. It’s great the regulations are carefully policed but 99 times out of 100 the stick, which lest we forget is a guide and primarily there for safety, is used in the correct manner.

Excessive use spoils that, but it’s extremely rare and there’s no doubt it would be a huge mistake to outlaw it.

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