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Picture: They tend to go like the clappers from the off in British jumps racing ( 

Perhaps South African racing’s reputation for being crawl-sprint is not such a bad thing after all.

That is when compared to recent criticism of jumps racing in the U.K. in an article by Lee Mottershead in the Racing Post in which he quotes trainer Harry Fry and jockey Aidan Coleman.

The latter pair believe the pace in British jumps racing is too fast and leads to a situation, especially in heavy ground, where the winner is the last horse still standing.

At Chepstow recently a two-and-a-half mile event with 12 runners saw eight of the 12 being pulled up.

In a four-runner chase the same day there was only one finisher.

Fry went into the stewards room to ask what they thought and was told the jockeys had gone too fast.

Fry’s owner than asked him why their jockey had not gone the pace the conditions called for and Fry explained that if he had been 25 lengths adrift with a circuit to go and had then failed to get into the race, he would have been called into the stewards room.

He said jumps jockeys in the U.K.  faced the same dilemna as cyclicts.

“You can’t allow the breakaway too much rope in case you don’t bridge the deficit.”

He said the mindset had become “to go as fast as you can for as long as you can and the last man standing wins.”

He believes this is leaving the gulf between Ireland jumps racing and the UK’s even greater, pointing out young horses were having bad experiences at the races from their first race and also there were less opportunities to race horses because they took so long to recover from their runs.

He added, “I think its one reason we are struggling compared to Ireland. Whereas we go flat out from flag fall, jockeys in Ireland seem to let their mounts find their feet and then quicken over the last half-a-mile.”

Top former jockey and now TV pundit Mick Fitzgerald agreed, saying, “I think it is wrong to generalise, but, as a rule, jockeys in Ireland are more likely to be told off for getting there too soon and getting beat, whereas in Britain you’re in trouble if you don’t get there.”

Aidan Coleman said, “It’s something I feel passionately about. When you look at how fast we go, it’s no wonder the Irish then come over and spank us. It seems to be getting worse as well. We can’t keep on like this. If we do I hate to imagine what speed we will be going over the first two in the future – and then what speed we will be going over the last two.”

Coleman and Fry believed one of the reasons for this phenomenon was trainers instructing jockeys to be prominent in the belief their runners had a fitness advantage that, in most cases, did not exist.

Coleman said Ireland and Britain also had contrasting perspectives of what was right and wrong.

He said in Britain a jockey being prominent or upsides turning for home and then fading away would likely be given a pat on the back. A jockey riding a patient race and then overtaking horses late to finish second or third would likely be asked questions.

He wondered how much jockeyship was involved anymore, because he said one sometimes wondered why the field was going so fast in a race and one would then hear a jockey saying. “I am just doing what I’ve been told.”

He added one might as well use 7 pound claimers in handicaps if one had to tell jockeys what they should do and where they should do it.

He said social media backlash for patient rides was more severe than for horses being ridden too aggressively.

Fry agreed with Coleman and said jockeys feeling they had to adhere to instructions was taking the horsemanship out of racing.