IT was heartening to see the Quality Jump Racing Review Group (QJRRG) in Britain, make a series of entirely sensible recommendations as regards National Hunt racing across the water recently.
This is not to suggest that racing here is perfect or beyond reproach but it was still good to see the QJRRG’s aim include a desire to see Britain’s best horses running against each other more regularly outside of Cheltenham and the production of a race programme that is consistently more engaging.
It is a positive to see an industry group acknowledge that the sport is done no favours by a programme that affords horses the chance to avoid each other until March.
Competition drives excellence, achievement, interest and builds an engaging narrative. The National Hunt season which, at its height, runs from late autumn until early May, offers a terrific chance for repeated clashes the like of which have become far too infrequent over the last couple of decades.
In Ireland the creation of the Dublin Racing Festival has made January a relatively quiet month although this in turn affords the likes of the Thyestes day at Gowran and the Kinloch Brae meeting at Thurles their fair share of the limelight. When one considers the calibre of clashes that could be in store at Leopardstown next month, the sacrifice of a quiet January is entirely worthwhile, while also serving to generate the level of competition which the QJRRG aspires to.