WATCHING the British Champions Sprint last weekend, my initial feeling was that Frankie Dettori could have given Kinross one more crack of the whip when Art Power came back at him and that Frankie had gone down a little tamely.

The thought did occur that maybe he had been conscious of the whip rules after the ban he received in the battle earlier in the season on Inspiral at Royal Ascot.

To my eyes, the replay showed five strikes and I couldn’t help thinking he had missed an opportunity here.

In all the weekend reviews, none of the many seasoned pundits picked up any transgression.

Then Tuesday brought the news that Dettori had gone over the limit!

Pity the poor employees in the BHA whose job is to ignore great finishes and terrific, crowd-pleasing racing and scrutinise replays to see if some went over the permitted numbers.

Seven strikes, ha, got ya! Like a traffic warden pouncing on some poor creature displaying a ticket 10 minutes over.

Having watched this race in particular a few times, I still only see six strikes but it’s pretty impossible to see how the ride could offend any long-time racing fan or even those new to the sport.

The majority of us readily accept that horses are not humans and, in competition, do need to be reminded to pull out maximum effort.

None of Dettori’s strikes were the full force that we saw of old, these were all low backhand reminders to encourage a bit more from experienced horses. But there we are!

You almost long for the day a rider stops riding in a finish and comes back in to say “Sorry, lads, I was afraid I’d gone over the whip limit and I don’t want a two-week ban from my livelihood.

Getting away with it

THE general grumbling after Champions Day last Saturday, after weather conditions forced Ascot to make a late switch of the round course races to the inside track, was that “they just about got away with it”. But many people again critised the meeting.

What can be done though? They did attract top class horses who would have been part of any summer Group 1 meeting.

Global warming is difficult to predict – we had three Arc de Triomphes run on very soft to heavy going before this year’s one on good to soft.

Where would you ideally fit the races from Champions Day if it is too late in the season? The crowd on course looked fitting for an end of season finale.

Those calling for a change on date should be reminded that as far back as 1999 Dubai Millenium won the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, run on September 26th, on the round course in officially heavy ground.

Even ground conditions played a part in Willie Carson’s under the trees ride on Bahri to defeat Ridgewood Pearl on September 23rd, 1995.

Some might just say it was ‘job done’, and it was a successful meeting, given the flooding in so many parts of Britain and Ireland over the last week.

After all, if you have been getting away with something for 13 years, (Champions Day was created in 2011), you might say that was quite a success in itself?

Only one Frankie Dettori…

YES, the farewell went on too long. Yes, the recent addition of the ‘I’m not actually retiring just yet’ was tedious. Yes, the fun-time Frankie image might be a lot of acting. Yes, it was not so good that large sums of money were demanded for appearances but..

To the sporting public there is, and has been for decades now, only one Frankie Dettori and there is simply no one else who can attract attention to racing as he did.

It was even amusing that things went his way with his one-time heir-apparent Oisin Murpy making an error in dropping his whip in that final battle in the Champions Stakes.

I heard some grumps in Britain at the weekend saying how good it was Bobby Charlton died on Saturday and kept Frankie off the back pages. Really?

He might be guilty of playing to the crowds, milking it for all that he can, but the crowds love him – he connects like no other rider ever did.

March any current rider down the high street and they would be as indistinctive as some of those merry geezers who don jockey’s silks for a stag night. Take off their riding helmets and they would be even more anonymous.

For pulling power, Frankie had it. Racing lacks a huge star once he is gone.

Casinos at midnight

IT was interesting last week to compare comments from two people on opposite sides of the gambling legislation debate.

John Gosden said on Nick Luck on Sunday,when discussing the campaigns and restrictions to combate problem gambling, that he effectively had a casino (mobile phone) in his pocket.

And Irish Minister of State James Browne said exactly the same thing recently when he was interviewed on RTÉ Radio, discussing the research indicating gambling was a huge problem in Irish society. “Every teenager has a casino in his back pocket.”

Therein lies the problem. To me, banning adverts from being broadcast in daylight hours (when most people have work to go to anyway) will not have a significant impact on betting behaviour but could stop live racing being broadcast in Ireland. Ironically, banning betting ads from being broadcast after 9pm would probably work better.

Those are the times people are at their most bored. They may be surfing online, having a drink and looking for a bit of excitement, so out comes the phone.

This ban is not comparable to the smoking ban for exactly that reason. The smoking ban worked for two reasons. It was a clear health issue, both to those smoking and those forced to passively inhale.

And at a time when more people went out to the pub to socialise, having to leave the craic inside to go outside for a smoke became a massive nuisance, so more effort was made to give up on both these grounds. Effectively banning most of the racing coverage from TV is only going to hurt those who make a living by it.

Spud men

THE optimism on display in some of the jumping stable tours and lists of horses to follow from tipsters and personalities knows no bounds. Some four and a half months before Cheltenham one of the daftest headlines has to be “He has Albert Barlett written all over him.”

I’ll give you about 50 horses to which that tag could apply and there’ll be at least 50 more contenders by Leopardstown in February for a race likely to have 20 runners. Monkfish apart, the last seven runnings had winning SPs ranging from 14/1 to 50/1. Offering up a likely winner at this stage would be like finding the needle in a haystack.