THREE-TIME champion jockey Ryan Moore has criticised today’s fixture pile-up that sees York’s high-profile John Smith’s Cup meeting clash with afternoon Flat meetings at Newmarket, Chester and Ascot as well as evening fixtures at Salisbury and Hamilton.
The congestion stems from Newmarket’s decision to switch its Darley July Cup, which features Kevin Ryan’s stablemates Astaire and Hot Streak, to a Saturday slot three years ago in a bid to curtail flagging attendances at the Suffolk track.
The only certainty is that the biggest attendance will be at York for the 55th renewal of the John Smith’s Cup where Moore partners Bold Sniper for the Queen.
But the fixture pile-up is even more bemusing because tomorrow’s action features three National Hunt cards, racing’s winter pursuit, and no action on the Flat – the pre-eminent code in high summer.
“It certainly wouldn’t happen in Australia, France or Japan,” bemoaned Moore in his Betfair blog. “Do you think that if Sky had four live Premier League football matches to show this weekend, they would let the football clubs dictate to them that they would all have the same kick-off time on the Saturday, and then leave their viewers watching a Championship ‘Super Sunday’ double-header? Of course they wouldn’t.
“Some heads would be knocked together... and a proper schedule would result for the benefit of all. Trainers are scrambling around for jockeys this weekend, and not even declaring horses that they want to run because no one suitable is available to ride them.
“The public want to see the best jockeys riding the best horses at the best tracks, and they cannot all be at Newmarket, York, Ascot and Chester at the same time. Sponsors of these big Saturday races are in danger of being short-changed.”