herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Height of summer and the Flat season has gone missing

HERE we are, fresh from our two weeks or so of lovely sunshine, the ground is nice and quick in most places - proper summer ground - a bit of rain has arrived to keep the dust down and the only thing that is missing is Flat racing.

It's hard to believe but last Sunday, July 6, Ireland staged two race meetings and not one of the 14 races was a Flat race.

For jockeys like Pat Smullen and Colm O'Donoghue, it was irrelevant as they were in America and had Joseph O'Brien not been suspended he would have spent his Sunday afternoon riding in the German Derby but for the rest of the Flat jockeys trying to make a living, they were left with nothing to do.

The good Flat jockeys in the sport make a very good living and their bank balance certainly wouldn't miss a free Sunday but that is far from the point here and for the lads not so well off, what chance have they got when they couldn't even get a riding fee.

Indeed, from last Friday to Sunday there were five fixtures in Ireland, three were all Jumps, one was mixed and the other was all Flat.

Of the 36 races held in those three days, 24 were Jump races and 12 were Flat but one of those was an amateur race so that rules out the Flat jockeys earning a crust there.

And the biggest field in a Flat race all weekend was 16 which was a 1m4f maiden at Bellewstown which, ironically, enough saw three National Hunt jockeys get a ride! Davy Condon, Andrew Lynch and Danny Mullins all switched codes for the afternoon.

It is ridiculous really at this time of year and surely something can be done about it.

The National Hunt fraternity did only return from a 10-day break (their only lengthy break in the entire calendar) last Friday but surely they could have been eased back into action rather than having a feast while the Flat fraternity endured a famine.

It is certainly an issue worth looking at as it's hard enough for the second and third tier of Flat jockeys to get rides without this happening.

Another thing to possibly look at is when you have a big day at the likes of the Curragh, why can't we have a smaller flat meeting as well?

It's very hard for some lads to get rides at the big meetings, so give them a chance at the smaller one when the big names are elsewhere.

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