October 20, 2006 at 11:47 #3194
Attended Captain Haddock yesterday and the last 3 fences down the back (2 plain and a ditch), are now of the portable variety. As far as I could make out they are about 6 to 9 inches smaller than the originals and from the limited evidence available are easily brushed through. Commentator Stewart Machin used the expression "parted the birch" a number of times.
Aside from taking away much of the spectacle of that particular run of fences – remember Twin Oaks jumping like a stag down the line under Neale Doughty for example – isn’t a mix of portable and traditional fences asking for trouble as there must be a possibility that horses will take liberties with the larger more unforgiving obstacles in the home straight. There were one or two nasty incidents yesterday, but it is early days to draw conclusions I suppose.October 20, 2006 at 11:53 #80673yeatsParticipant
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Arumun walked through the last ditch and it had no effect on him, they definitely look smaller.<br>Will they still be put up as some of the best fences in the country?October 20, 2006 at 12:04 #80674seabirdParticipant
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Clerk of the Course, Kirkland Tellwright (is that a real name), was interviewed on Racing UK yesterday and the thinking is that it will facilitate the looking after the course during bad weather. The fact that they are portable will enable him to move the postion of the fences and the ground won’t be as poached beacause the wear will be spread.
The point about the horses being lulled into a false sense of security, seems a good one to me.
ColinOctober 20, 2006 at 12:52 #80675
<br>If you remember, they had a meeting last year where the last three fences in the back staright had to be omitted due to the ground being frozen. I seem to remember a three and half mile chase with about twelve fences jumped.
That is what has prompted this – the hurdle track was Ok that day, but the chase track is shaded by some trees.
I’d agree about the dangers of mixing permanent and portable fences, although it’s worth bearing in mind that most courses have fences with different degrees of stiffness, since at most tracks, half the fences get rebuilt during the summer and half don’t.
APOctober 20, 2006 at 14:03 #80676
I’ve been attending Haydock for more years than I care to remember and don’t recall those particular fences ever having been dolled off other than on the occasion last season.
Just seems a shame to me that a grade 1 track where jumping has always been at a premium has decided to go down the upturned dandy brush route.October 20, 2006 at 14:16 #80677
Agree with you 100% – it does seem an over reaction to a one-off event – might be easier just to trim back the trees!
APOctober 20, 2006 at 14:24 #80678yeatsParticipant
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What’s wrong with using the carpet Cheltenham will be putting down?October 20, 2006 at 18:21 #80679graysonscolumnParticipant
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The first sign of the ensuing change, as reported in the RP back in April;
Haydock fences set to be replaced by portable obstacles
Published: 20/04/2006 (News)
HAYDOCK yesterday stressed that it was seeking "to both maintain tradition and move with the times" as it revealed that its famous drop fences are on the verge of being replaced by portable obstacles, writes Lee Mottershead.
The existing Haydock fences, among the most distinctive and celebrated on any British park course, are set to be consigned to history after a trial this week of three of the new jumps received a positive reaction from jockeys and trainers.
Haydock, one of the top tracks in the portfolio of Racecourse Holdings Trust, is looking to make the change as it believes that the ability to move the fences will allow for a more effective use of ground and, as a result, help prevent the loss of meetings through frost, as fences and hurdles could be placed on the same track.
Each of the nine new fences that will be required – the water jump will not be replaced – will cost in the region of Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£8,000, as did the new brush hurdles that Haydock used for the first time this season. Other RHT tracks are known to be taking an interest in Haydock’s plans.
Clerk of the course Kirkland Tellwright said: "I know people will say we are betraying our heritage, but our sport is evolutionary and we won’t be rushing, so as not to alienate our clients.
"We are very much aware of Haydock’s standing as one of Britain’s best chase tracks, and that the fences here have a reputation for requiring sound jumping, and our aim is to maintain that. We are going to move painstakingly slowly as we seek to both maintain tradition and move with the times.
"No firm decision has yet been made as to when we introduce the new fences, but there is a possibility that, aligned to drainage work, we might replace some of the existing fences next season, and my bet is that most people will not be able to distinguish between the old fences and the new ones."
Richie McGrath, who won Haydock’s Red Square Vodka Gold Cup aboard Ossmoses in February, took part in Tuesday’s trial, when two plain fences and one ditch were jumped.
He said: "It will be a pity to lose the traditional Haydock fences, but if they are going to change them then there is the potential for these to work well.
"The fences rode nicely, especially the ditch, but the apron on the plain fences was too hard and solid, and it caught horses under their bellies."
Four of those in action on Tuesday, including Cheltenham Festival winner You’re Special, were sent by Ferdy Murphy, whose assistant Niall Hannity monitored the exercise.
Hannity said: "We took some inexperienced novices and experienced handicappers, and they all jumped the fences well. Kirkland Tellwright has done a good job, and we’re looking forward to working with him in the future."
<br>Seems the difference was more noticeable yesterday than Tellwright believed back in April.
Isn’t he, incidentally, part of the same dynasty that presided over the closure of Woore racecourse 40 years ago or so? Bit of "previous" in the family where chipping away at the fabric of steeplechasing is concerned if so, my apologies to him if not.
Can only add my voice to the fears regarding irregularly-packed fences here and elsewhere, particularly where the tracks busy for longest in the year are concerned. Worcester re-packed all of their fences ahead of this season alright, but having a five month break from racing over the winter made this a simple enough task.
The patron saint of lower-grade fare. A gently critical friend of point-to-pointing. Kindness is a political act.October 21, 2006 at 10:04 #80680Irish StampMember
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Like Bear i’m a regular at Haydock whenever I can make it. I’d personally sooner they used these fences (but stiffen them up a bit more) than have quality cards like the Peter Marsh and National Trial abandoned as has happened in recent years or having fences dolled off and increasing the run in from approximately 2furlongs to nearer half a mile.October 30, 2006 at 12:37 #80681
Have you seen the card at Haydock for Thursday. 5 hurdle races, two over the ‘fixed brushes’, a flat race, and 1 chase. The chase is the Edward Hanmer which used to be a popular starting point for the classier chasers limbering up for the Hennessey or King George, it being a conditions chase over 3 miles. It is now a 2 1/2 handicap.
On the up side brand new shiny bars have just been re-furbished to cater for the Haydock prime customer – the office party and coach trip p**s
artists who couldn’t give a ****
what is happening outside!October 30, 2006 at 13:27 #80682graysonscolumnParticipant
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The brush races I have no problem with, as I am more sold on (a) their ability to compel horses to jump properly and (b) the greater safety they afford horses than traditional flights. However, the sizeable disquiet registered when Fontwell had a card with only one chase on it last autumn should have served as enough of a disincentive to do likewise.
The patron saint of lower-grade fare. A gently critical friend of point-to-pointing. Kindness is a political act.November 18, 2006 at 11:43 #80683
<br>Interesting that this use of portable fences at Haydock doesn’t seem to have been noticed by some in the press.
In the Racing Post today, both James Willoughby and the Trading Post column make specific reference to the ‘stiffness’ of the fences in their comment on the big race.
APNovember 18, 2006 at 12:30 #80684DroneParticipant
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For ‘stiff’ now substitute unpredictable, inconsistent, capricious or even dangerous perhaps.
As usual a readable piece by Willoughby but why do the RP use him to analyse top NH races when he’s confessed on numerous occasions to having little or no interest in the code?
Or maybe he’s gone the Nevison route and abandoned Polytrack for the delights of Perth and Plumpton.
Couldn’t make head nor tail of his double act with Nick Luck at Kempton the other day; but I am a polytrack virgin.
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