Ashforth’s Angles: Happy Valley does prize-money well

The least valuable race at Happy Valley is worth £31,445

PICTURE: Hugh Routledge Happy Valley does prize-money well
By David Ashforth 6:00PM 29 NOV 2016

SILVESTRE DE SOUSA, Oisin Murphy, Neil Callan and Luke Morris all have full books of eight rides on Wednesday. The difference is that De Sousa, Murphy and Callan will be at Happy Valley chasing win prize money of over £420,000 while Morris, after warming up with three rides at Lingfield, will be chasing win prize money of £41,745 at Kempton.

The least valuable race at Happy Valley is worth £31,445 to the winner whereas the most valuable at Kempton is worth £11,828. Furthermore, that race at Happy Valley is worth more to the winner than all eight races put together at Lingfield, which offers a total of £24,098 to the winners.

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It is not a fair comparison, perhaps, but it is a stark contrast. Luckily for British racing, I have spotted an opportunity to recruit more racehorse owners. The idea, and it's a jolly good one, was prompted by the sight of Ninety Years Young (1.10 Lingfield), owned by The Hot To Trot Syndicate and trained by David Elsworth. Admittedly, Ninety Years Young is, in fact, two years old but every member of The Hot To Trot Syndicate is older than that and Elsworth will soon be 77.

While racing bangs on about the need to attract young people, it's missing out on a growing group – the over 90s. They are where the future lies. Did you know (of course you didn't) that there are now over half a million UK residents aged 90 and over? In 1985 there were less than 200,000. It's a group on the move, although sometimes only after hip and knee replacements.

Unsurprisingly, given the stress that goes with being a man, for every 100 men aged 90 or more there are 240 women. I suppose that's good for men on the dating front.

Anyway, what's needed is a syndicate called The Over 90 and Still Racing Syndicate. They'd spread their horses around, to Mick Easterby and other octogenarians such as Milton Bradley and Neville Bycroft. Reg Hollinshead still held a licence when he died three years ago, aged 89 and it won't be long before the first 90-year-old trainer in Britain.

Despite Lingfield's unappetising prize money there's plenty to interest both the over and under 90s. Take Ready (1.40), for instance, trying to give trainer Clare Ellam her first Flat winner after being claimed for £8,000 when finishing second at Wolverhampton earlier this month.

£8,000 doesn't seem excessive for a pretty consistent six-year-old now rated 91, especially as the winner of that race, Mythical Madness, rated 92 and claimed by David O'Meara for £10,000, was narrowly beaten in a 0-95 handicap on Saturday. On the other hand (there's usually another hand), Ready might be difficult to place and seems certain to be outclassed in Wednesday's conditions race. A good losing run might push him further up the handicap.

Good luck, and to Irish trainer R A Curran and jockey Shane Crimin, the latter having his first ride in Britain and the former seeking his first win, with Ballygrooby Bertie (Catterick 12.30).

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