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Hammerings from handicapper left me perplexed and infuriated

WHILE racing is something that I am passionate about and I put a lot of my hard-earned money into the game, there are times when it can leave me infuriated.

Up to the beginning of the month, I'd had just one winner over the past two years. I train horses -- most of which are my own -- because it's a challenge that I love, but placing average horses is not easy and plenty of mine were just average.

Then, Cherryantor won at a fancy price at Roscommon last week. He is nearly nine years of age, but the handicapper gave him 8lb for winning, which I felt was harsh.

Last Monday, Cairdiuil won by seven lengths at my local track in Galway and got hammered by 13lb for basically handling the heavy ground better than the rest.

Two days later, Weslife won the beginners' chase at 50/1. Now where that showing came from is beyond me -- he is a moderate animal and I don't think he's turned into a superstar overnight -- and yet he's been hit with a 19lb hike. I'm perplexed!

We all strive to find the Camelots of this world, but most of the time we are dealing with far lesser talent. Often you will see horses getting just 3lb or 4lb for winning, so it's the lack of consistency that has me frustrated more than anything.

Put it this way: Cairdiuil had been beaten fair and square on his last five starts but by giving him 13lb the handicapper must have suspected that we have had that in hand all along.

That's just not the case. These are horses that are exposed and have always been trying but they are being crucified for the one day that things have gone their way.

A syndicate owns Cairdiuil and they got a great kick out of the Galway win until they heard the news of his hike. He was a horse that often got put up a pound or two for being placed consistently and the point was made that he would have been as well off continuing that way -- I honestly don't know where I am going to go with him now.

Maybe it's natural for trainers to be at loggerheads with the handicappers but it's not right to be discouraged from winning either. On a separate issue, I would love to see racecourses open up their gates more often like they did at the Curragh on Sunday.


Sponsoring the admissions was a fine gesture by the Haefner family of Moyglare Stud Farm and it got an extra couple of thousand people to come racing.

All those people are spending money in the bars and so on and, who knows, they might come again.

That's got to be a good thing. Galway raced on three weekdays this week and I firmly believe that it would be a great incentive if you invited people in to see what's on offer. Get people in, show them a good time and they might be hooked for life.

My main business is my haulage company, Iggy Madden Transport, and it's that which funds my racing habit. I have two lads on the yard in Athenry and although my own day would often run from 6.0 in the morning to 9.0 at night, we have a good routine.

Of course, we also had the small matter of the All-Ireland hurling final last Sunday. I went to Croke Park and I suppose the draw was a fair result, given that either team could have won the game -- we certainly won't complain about another day out.

The way I see it, we have played Kilkenny twice this year and they still haven't beaten us, so we have nothing to fear. If anything, going by the way Kilkenny started on Sunday, they are the ones with doubts in their minds after the Leinster final.

Anyway, there's plenty of racing to contend with before the replay. Our next venture will be Electuary in the bumper at Listowel on Monday, provided the ground is okay. She did lots right when fifth on her debut at Killarney, so she could be thereabouts.

For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out www.goracing.ie

Irish Independent