Luke Morris: has had over 200 more rides than any other jockey this year
PICTURE: Steve Dennis
By David Ashforth 5:50PM 24 AUG 2016
HORSERACING has never received proper credit for the huge contribution it has made to life’s ceaseless battle with boredom.
Sleep was invented to fill up eight of each day’s 24 hours but that still leaves 16 to get through. In the old days the solution was to work people to an early death, with few hours of leisure and no money to spend it on. To make life tolerable for the poor, sex was invented.
Recently something called work-life balance was discovered with work generally considered a bad thing and life a good thing. The idea is that you work less and live more, worry less about work and more about life. You have to decide what to do with the life bit, particularly during the barren years before you get a bus pass and can sit exchanging medical notes with other old codgers.
That’s where horseracing comes in. Forty years ago the sport had much less to offer than it does today. On Thursday there are three Flat meetings, two jump meetings and two meetings in Ireland, all on television. There’s racing solidly from 2.00pm to 9.15pm, with the slack taken up in betting shops by virtual racing and those machines that make horrible noises and a lot of money but not for customers.
On the same day in 1976 there were just two meetings in Britain and one in Ireland, at Powerstown Park. Yarmouth’s meeting was on firm ground and the biggest field had six runners. The previous day, Fontwell’s meeting was abandoned “course unfit because of drought.” No wonder life expectancy was shorter in those days. There wasn’t much point carrying on.
Shouldering its responsibility, racing increased the number of fixtures, extended betting shop opening hours and showed every race on television. As a significant social problem, boredom was more or less eradicated from lunchtime onwards.
That still left the morning but there’s the form to be studied and essential domestic tasks to be carried out, such as stocking up on those nice Pink Lady apples. It’s not a complete solution but until morning racing is introduced it will have to do, along with that Futoshiki puzzle in The Times and, of course, the obituaries.
Not everyone has their work-life balance in harmony and I’m worried about Luke Morris. Admittedly, he doesn’t have a bus pass yet so that pleasure is denied him but already this year he’s had 932 rides which is more than 200 more than the next busiest jockey, Joe Fanning.
In each of the last two years Morris has had over 1500 rides. That’s just in the afternoons and evenings. In the mornings I expect he’s busy at Sir Mark Prescott’s or James Tate’s or one of the other 40 trainers he’s already ridden a winner for this year.
On Thursday Morris has six rides at Wolverhampton, including in the final race at 9.15pm. What time will he get to bed? What time will he get up in the morning? When’s he going to eat dinner?