Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott has won 416 games throughout his coaching career. He has overseen defeats on 522 occasions. Yet, for the vast majority of the last 16 years, he has been constantly gainfully employed. Such facts must make for sobering reading for devotees of certain football clubs who’ve seen those in charge of their teams defenestrated as regularly as most of us put out the bin.
The striking thing is that while in basketball coaches are seemingly either given ample time to either improve the players at their disposal or replace them, in soccer the course of action tends to be to ditch whoever’s in charge on the sideline. Thus paying little heed to the shortcomings of the often grotesquely paid individuals inside the lines.
Wages claimed by footballers appear even more obscene when placed against what jockeys – particularly those who ply their trade over obstacles – are paid for putting their lives in danger every day to earn a living. Unfortunately, for the sake of racing, gut feeling is that the sport may be hovering close to another uncomfortable comparison with football.
Simply because one would have to be a little unnerved by the way some leading owners in the sport have of late been casting aside their employed riders in an almost flippant manner. While the opportunity to ride for someone with a powerful army of horses may be a hard carrot for any rider to resist, the idea of one owner or a group of them wielding that much influence on the sport fills me with unease.
It’s all well and good when things are going swimmingly. Or if you happen to be AP McCoy – employed by one of the most decent, genuine people in the world. When things go off script, though, it can be a very different matter. Numerous examples have proven it doesn’t matter what profile one is thought to have.
How else to explain the likes of Frankie Dettori and Davy Russell being dispensed with? The thing is, such is their profile, they’re not likely to be short of work. It may be decidedly more difficult for others to keep afloat. Now, Andrew Lynch being relieved of his duties with Ann and Alan Potts was surprising and disappointing in equal measure.
For a lot of reasons. Maybe mostly due to a cognisance of the success the Ashbourne man delivered for his erstwhile employers. Barry Connell’s decision to replace Danny Mullins was even more baffling. Now, that he appointed him in the first place was a surprise to me. But, given that Connell has horses with both of the lad’s parents (Tony and Mags) seeing him lose his post was even more startling.
When such changes occur, of course, opportunities arise for others. Questions, too, though. Chief among them knowing that the employers concerned haven’t become the affluent, successful business moguls they are without a copious dollop of a steely, ruthless streak at their core.
Still, no more than yours truly being offered a ‘gig’ in a Sunday paper or a hurler given the chance of a spot on Brian Cody’s panel or a motorsport enthusiast happening upon a spin in Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes, any ambitious jockey would find it very hard to turn down the opportunity to steer some of the best steeds in racing.
Johnny Burke has already got off to a great start for Mr and Mrs Potts aboard the iconic Sizing Europe. He should have plenty of young talent in both the Henry De Bromhead and Jim Dreaper yards with which to try and mine success. Mr Connell, meanwhile, has bountiful artillery with which to arm his new number one, Adrian Heskin.
If there was a less obvious disappointment relating to the scandal currently enveloping a certain trainer it related to the fact that the owners who chose to remove their stock from the said establishment didn’t expand their owner portfolios. Instead electing to increase the holdings of some of those already on their roster.
Now, regardless of what additional ammunition some trainers have attained due to circumstance, Willie Mullins being surpassed is almost unfathomable. It may be more competitive than in recent seasons however. Made even more so by the increasing presence of Aidan O’Brien in the jumps sphere.
All of which should be good news for punters. With that in mind, anyone hoping to make a bit of profit in the weeks and months ahead could do worse the keep note of the following:
SNOW FALCON (Noel Meade)
CHAMPOLEON (Noel Meade)
VERY WOOD (Noel Meade)
ICE COLD SOUL (Noel Meade)
ABBYSSIAL (Willie Mullins)
BLACK HERCULES (Willie Mullins)
CLONDAW COURT (Willie Mullins)
MOYLE PARK (Willie Mullins)
DRACO (AP O’Brien)
LONE STAR (AP O’Brien)
CAVITE BETA (JTR Dreaper)
TYCOON PRINCE (Gordon Elliott)
BRAND AMBASSADOR (Gordon Elliott)
DANDRIDGE (ALT Moore)
CHAMPAGNE JAMES (Ted Walsh)
EXXARO (Henry De Bromhead)