In harness racing the list of excuses is long - the horse needs to be on a helmet, he needs to be on the front, he got a bad drive, the track was sticky, the bridle didn't work, I blew a tire, he threw a shoe. There are a few more, but you get the drift.
Most of the time these excuses are nonsense - the horse simply had a bad day, or there is something wrong with him or her and it needs to be addressed. However, usually (because harness racing races each seven days), you can prove or disprove the excuse quite quickly. Just pop the horse back in, race him on a helmet instead of on the front (for that excuse) and boom, mystery over.
I spoke to a friend today and we chatted about the excuses from some owners in thoroughbred racing. They truly do take the cake.
Where harness has five or ten prime excuses, thoroughbred racing has a hundred or more.
Aside from the usual dozen or so excuses from both sports', we have:
- You sent him too long
- You sent him too short
- He doesn't like poly
- He doesn't like dirt
- He doesn't like turf
- Your 3f work sharpened him up too much
- Your 5f work was too long
The thing is: The horse in question does not race each week, or 35 times or more a year. He might race six times, or not even enough to run through all the excuses for bad efforts! It could be two or three years before you run through them all.
I feel for every thoroughbred trainer out there; the ones who have to put up with excuse-making owners who are unable to see and understand their horse's ability. It has to be a tough job.