Becher’s Brook

Have just read about six pages of comments at the Telegraph and Mail about the race and what strikes me with that, as well as with some recent events at Orphans, is the extremism or rather the flight to deeply entrenched positions, from where no reasoning is possible.

On both sides, the most strident and uncompromising things were being said. What’s wrong with people today? The defence of killing horses was “people like the element of danger”, “more horses die elsewhere” [the holocaust argument] and “oh we’re going to ban racing, are we, just because two horses died?”

Five actually, in two years.

The other side says, simply, “Ban the whole race.”

Not one person, not one, suggested that Becher’s Brook be fixed, on the grounds that it is more dangerous than the rest. One good thing which many did say was that the field should be reduced to 20 or so – there could be a run-off for the final race.

Why can’t adjustments be made like that? Why does it have to be all one way or all the other?

10 comments for “Becher’s Brook

  1. john in cheshire
    April 14, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Quite so James. But then reason is/was never a major factor in what people say, do think or believe.

  2. Libertarian lost in Scotland
    April 14, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    It all depends on why each party is discussing at question at hand, Do they want to discuss the question seriously or is it about rhetorical ”winning” ? The later case seems to be more common in more public discussion, so not much can be expected from them.

    Sometimes you can even learn from someone who is engaging in rhetorical mudslinging, by trying to get information from him instead of trying to convince him.

    Honest discussion supposes that both sides are open to each other arguments, want to explore the facts at end, and might think about it later on.

    You can’t have that with the ”you are not smart enough to reach the right conclusion” a lot of people take, and at this particular point why is it a surprise that others simply close their mind to discussion ?

  3. April 15, 2012 at 5:52 am

    Sorry, can’t link properly (still incommunicado) but take a look at Dick Puddlecote’s post:

    Is that what we want? Ever- increasing blandness forced on is by third- parties who don’t even have a stake in what they are destroying? Enough tinkering – life has risks. Let’s accept that, and move on.

  4. April 15, 2012 at 7:05 am

    Either I’ve singularly failed to explain myself properly or people have misread what I was saying.

    The first two comments [at my place on the topic, not here] are a perfect example of what I’m saying – the rush to extreme positions and strawmen.

    Where, in the post was anything proposed by me about control freakery, about banning the race? Where was anything said about 2 inch high box hedges?

    The thrust of the post was about adjustments to Becker’s Brook, that was all. A horse race is always an exercise in control in the first place. They run in a certain direction, close to a rail, the surface has to be acceptable so the majority don’t stumble. There are all sorts of things controlled before you even begin.

    Even in the heyday of the he-men of football and rugger, there were still rules, though less of them.

    OK, so you run a race and the danger is one of the thrills. Fine. The horses are bred for this race. Fine. Occasionally there’ll be accidents and regrettable deaths. Not fine but those are the odds.

    However, there is one jump which is catching most of the horses on your course. The other jumps are difficult but acceptable. This one jump though is notoriously catching too many horses and horses are getting killed from it, with regularity.

    What do you do? Rush to extreme positions and start talking about libertarianism, suggesting no rules whatever or go the other way and auto-respond to blanket ban the race or all horse-racing!

    No, anyone with any sense knows that slight adjustments have to be made to that one particular jump. That’s all. Geoffrey S, at my place, wrote:

    Adjustments HAVE been made which have been discussed endlessly at TRF Racing Forum. There may be unintended consequences as a result, the jumps are now easier so the horses run faster so ..

    Let me repeat that word – adjustments. Translated to human hurdling, it might mean reducing the height from, say, 1.05 metres to 1.01 metres, not to 20cm. Nobody said 20cm. We said here a slight adjustment.

    Ditto with Becker’s Brook. It’s catching too many horses out with that sized field, which gives no room to adjust. It’s a jump near the beginning where most of the horses are bunched up together anyway. Later in the race, they are more strung out and the crowding issue doesn’t arise as much.

    Now if you call the idea of common sense, slight adjustments “control-freakery”, then we obviously have different definitions of that.

    Horses are unnecessarily dying. The key word is unnecessarily. The reason is not hard to see. That one effing jump needs a slight adjustment to it.

    Bona fides. Just a word where I’m personally coming from on these issues. My chosen sports were rugby in winter and sailing in summer. This was the class of boat I raced in:

    I wouldn’t say that was opting for the “safe solution”, would you [or blandness, Julia]? I’m dead against mollycoddling and matriarchy but by the same token, I’d not increase the sail area on those boats by another 20 square feet in a race season because they’d become unmanageable for all over that race season. You could shove on another 50 square feet for one day, just for the hell of it but that’s another thing.

    Just take a look at that link again and here’s a quote from it:

    Well the racing conditions for the last day of the 2007 Ronstan A-Cat World Championship turned out to be pretty severe. The event that was building up to be a “Clash of Champions” on the final day of racing has been decided by a blow out, the wind that is. Glenn Ashby, Lars Guck and Pete Melvin all had a shot at taking the title today in a heavy air event, but in the end the wind was too much.

    I’d not expect you to know who Glenn Ashby was but if I said he was a bit of a daredevil and therefore multiple times world champion, you’d get the idea. When even he concedes something is a bit OTT, then a slight adjustment is needed, is it not? And Julia, that has nothing to do with the march to blandness and mediocrity, which I thoroughly agree with you about.


    • April 15, 2012 at 9:55 am

      “Horses are unnecessarily dying. The key word is unnecessarily. “

      James, do you have any idea how many die in other races, per year? Even on flat races?

      Define ‘unnecessarily’ first, then determine if these two deaths met that criteria, and then argue for yet more amendments to be made to that one jump.

      And then, in a year or two’s time, when another horse is killed at that jump, what to do? Admit that it’s inherently risky, or start to tinker again?

  5. April 15, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Reading what has been written without putting one’s own spin on it would be a start. Then perhaps not jumping to conclusions and misrepresenting their argument will help somewhat.

  6. adelaide girl
    April 15, 2012 at 10:48 am

    As usual the poor horses suffer for so called entertainment, if this many jockeys died there would be an outcry. The racing industry, cruel from start to finish.

  7. Mudplugger
    April 15, 2012 at 11:52 am

    What we’re seeing is a new class of ‘victim’, opening the way for the whingeing classes to mount another crusade.
    We’ve had it with women, ethnic minorities, gays, disabled, second-hand smoke recipients, foxes etc. Moving on to ‘oppressed animals’ is their natural direction of travel to continue finding additional things to whinge about.

    I have no strong views for or against horse-racing in general or the Grand National in particular – and neither do they, it’s just another opportunity to create a new ‘crusade’. All they need is the oxygen of publicity, freely granted to them by the mainstream media, and they’re off again trotting it up the flagpole. And they know the hard-of-thinking will give them a hearing yet again.

    • April 16, 2012 at 5:39 am

      Spot on!

  8. April 15, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    My full response became a post in its own right.

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