FREDDIE TETT was the man to follow at Saturday’s racemeeting at Treviso, as the British amateur jockey rode his first ever jump race double at the northern Italian course.
Whilst the rest of us are counting down the days until British amateur racing is set to restart on 29th March, nothing is stopping Fred who took himself off to take up residency in France just in time before lockdown set in. Having already enjoyed winners in France and Belgium, this afternoon Fred enjoyed his first ever career jump double, this time in Treviso, Italy over hurdles! Many congratulations to Fred on a great achievement
First up was KNAPSACK in the Premio Montebelluna hurdle race over 3000 metres. One of four runners in the race for owner-trainer Paolo Favero, Knapsack started her career in England, where she was unplaced in three races on the flat for trainer Clive Cox. However, Knapsack has adapted well to life over hurdles in Italy, winning over 3500 metres at Pisa last month. The drop down in distance didn’t inconvenience the four year old Nathaniel filly here however, as despite jumping the third last hurdle last of the five runners, Knapsack made smooth headway under Tett in the closing stages, coming home ahead of the Polish-bred pair of Bazajyd and Consensus to give owner-trainer Favero a 1-2-3 in the race.
Tett completed his double aboard another Favero-trained runner, WEST COAST TIME, who prevailed in a thrilling finish to the Premio Sant Artemio, another hurdle race over 3000 metres, where six of the eight runners looked to have chances jumping the final hurdle. However, whereas Knapsack is a regular over hurdles, West Coast Time is more at home running over extreme distances whilst negotiating cross country obstacles, highlighted by his third place finish in a Group 2 cross country chase at Merano over 6000 metres back in September. However, despite running over half that distance here, West Coast Time, formerly trained in Ireland by Joseph O’Brien before joining current connections in November 2019, belied odds of 15.5-1, getting the better of stablemate Padrinho, with the German-bred grey Salem Aleikum back in third.
With the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown announced on Monday including that grass roots sport cannot return until 29th March, the resumption of outdoor grassroots sports for children and adults from the end of March is earlier than many expected. The date dovetails with the return of point-to-points in England which has been announced by the Point-To-Point Authority.
The one big caveat is the three-week gap following the full reopening of schools. The Government will carefully monitor the impact of each stage of its roadmap on Covid-19 transmission rates and will be watching for any significant increases in infections during March.
The BHA would welcome seeing amateur jockeys able to ride again and are currently working with The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, as they have throughout the pandemic, to ensure that this happens as soon as possible.
The Racing Post have reported on the Government’s update on grassroots sports restrictions which are set to last until at least 29th March, resulting in the loss of rides at Cheltenham Festival for all jockeys holding an amateur licence.
As reported by Peter Scargil and Mark Boylan:
Amateur jockeys will not be permitted to ride at this season’s Cheltenham Festival due to the UK government’s restrictions on grassroots sport lasting until March 29. Amateur riders are traditionally part of the fabric of the Cheltenham Festival with three races – the National Hunt Chase, Kim Muir Handicap Chase, and the St James’s Place Hunters’ Chase – reserved solely for them, and the leading amateurs also compete with professionals in the meeting’s other races.
However, amateur and grassroots sports have been suspended in Britain since lockdown began on January 4 and a resumption is earmarked for March 29. As such, the decision is understood to have been taken by the BHA to not allow amateur jockeys to compete at Cheltenham, an elite sports event, this year. It is unclear whether any suspension of amateur riders competing beyond March 29 will be in place, with contests such as the Foxhunters’ Chase at the Grand National meeting reserved for amateurs in normal circumstances.
Ten-time Cheltenham Festival-winning rider Jamie Codd was philosophical about the exclusion, while stating he has no intention to turn professional in order to ride at the meeting. Had Codd been allowed to participate, of the riders on duty only Richard Johnson, Nico de Boinville and Paul Townend would have ridden more festival winners than him. Instead, he is now hoping the ban will be lifted in time for the Foxhunters’ Chase at Aintree.
“It’s hugely disappointing for the amateurs in the UK and for us qualified riders in Ireland not to be there, but this is a government decision in very difficult circumstances and there was very little we could do,” Codd said. “I was preparing myself for this. I thought we might be in trouble, and I won’t be turning professional but I will be cheering on all the Irish horses from home. There is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel that we might be back for Aintree, so that would be something to look forward to.”
Record-breaking point-to-point rider Derek O’Connor echoed Codd’s hopes for an Aintree return, adding that the absence of amateurs would be felt greatest in the Hunters’ Chase.
Given how important a race like the Hunters’ Chase is to the grassroots network of people in racing, it’s a big loss that amateurs won’t be allowed to ride in it,” he said. “We’re just hopeful we’ll get back in time for Aintree when things should be a little more straightforward.”
Elements of the amateur season have already been greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic with point-to-points in Britain and Ireland halted as part of the ban on non-elite sports. The UK Point-To-Point Authority confirmed on Tuesday that its meetings would return on March 29, provided the government is in a position to lift the restrictions on non-elite sport.
In Ireland, a return date for point-to-points is still uncertain, with the lockdown in the country remaining until at least April 5, according to Taoiseach Micheal Martin.
Photo credit: Patrick McCann