I’m a huge admirer of the unrelenting excellence of the Ballydoyle/Coolmore operation. However recent races have led to serious questions about their use of team tactics. Ballydoyle are arguably pursuing tactics that are against the spirit of the sport. Pacemakers have an acceptable and valuable role in the sport, however we are witnessing tactics that seem more akin to the use of ‘domestiques’ in cycling and that is objectionable.
The BHA’s rules on team tactics are as follows:
46: ASSISTING ANOTHER HORSE IN A RACE
A Jockey must not ride in such a way which is intended to, or does, give an advantage to or is in the interests of a horse which:
-shares one or more Owners in common with; or
-is from the same stable or team as the horse they are riding in the Race.
A Trainer is also responsible for any breach of Rule (F)46 by a Jockey riding one of their horses, except where they can demonstrate that they instructed the Jockey to treat every other horse in the Race equally.
Nothing in these Rules prohibits pure pace making.
Watch the ride on 50-1 shot Royal Dornach (see video below) and you have to wonder, was he more interested in riding his own race or in inconveniencing Threat?
This incident follows closely on the Irish 2000 Guineas where 6 of the 11 runners were Ballydoyle trained. Thankfully Siskin and Colin Keane were good enough to extract themselves from a phlanx of Ballydoyle runners and the best horse won on the day. However as Ger Lyons said “we were up against a football team”.
In 2008, Ballydoyle were fined in regard to the running of Red Rock Canyon who facilitated Duke of Marmalade in the Juddmonte International see https://www.britishhorseracing.com/press_releases/disciplinary-panel-result-and-statement/
Nobody expects Ballydoyle’s jockeys to adopt an ‘after you’ approach to their rivals, but they are sullying their reputation with this behaviour. Given their power in the industry the media give them a relatively easy time.
It is time for the British and Irish stewards to get serious about this issue.