Welcome to Part 2 of my interview with Tom Green and Will Kinsey – let’s just jump straight into it.
I think it is only right we mention the BBC Panorama episode, firstly did you watch it and secondly what can racing do as a sport to change the perception of racing that people now have due to that episode?
Will: I didn’t watch it live but I did watch it a few days later when it had all calmed down and there was some shocking images. But at the same time I felt like from a racing point of view a lot had to be taken with a pinch of salt because a lot of them didn’t look like race horses. The main problem was the slaughter house, if that’s how people think slaughter houses treat the horses then one thing is for sure, people in this industry will not be sending horses to places like that. You’re going to get some cases where with all due respect some horses are not safe to rehome or they have been injured and unfortunately need to be sent to be humanely put to sleep but those cases are very few and far between.
I think in this country racing does an awful lot for after care and does more and more for traceability and the transfer of responsibility and E-passports. They’re doing everything possible to make sure horses have the best life before, during and after racing. I felt like not a true picture was portrayed in that Panorama for sure, it was very one sided, they picked out a couple of examples and some pretty old footage on there as well, but that is not the norm. There is always going to be the odd case, there is always going to be human’s doing bad things in any walk of life but it is our responsibility to make sure we minimise this and give the horses the best care because ultimately we are breeding these horses for people to own them and train them for their pleasure so it’s only right and respectful we make sure they have good aftercare.
From my experience I don’t know anybody in this industry who thinks otherwise or treats horses badly because if they do they’re not in this industry, they’re soon out. I think in this country we do everything well and we’re striving to do it even better with that side of things.
Tom: Yeah, I think the industry as a whole needs to look at is and see that certain things need to be done straight away. They’re not fixes but they’ll make it harder. Bute is a common treatment, it’s like paracetamol for humans and if you went around and how many humans had taken paracetamol, the large majority would say they had. I think one of the things these people were trying to do was get contaminated meat into the food chain so what I would do is make every thoroughbred passport as not fit for consumption because most have been treated with bute anyway. It’s not going to fix the issues but it will make it a lot harder.
There are certainly question marks about how certain horses microchips have got from one horse to another that need to be looked into by the IHRB. However I do think it was very one sided, if you look at the transfer of responsibility that the BHA have brought in they are doing quite a lot and as I said we have rehomed one that now does dressage. I know a lot of people who have rehome horses that still keep in touch and still know what they’ve gone on to do. Every owner I know has made sure that their horse goes on to have a happy life after and that’s very important.
Certainly there’s question marks about the ‘reputable dealer’ because if I went to my trainer who said it’s not going to make a race horse but it’s a really nice horse and I know this man who looks after the horses and can find it a nice home then I’d be thinking yeah this is great because the horse will go on to have a really nice life. You trust the trainer to go that way, but he wasn’t named in the programme. There are definitely questions to be answered but I also agree that it was a quite one sided programme.
Will: The main character was a guy from Animal Aid that won’t stop until horse racing is stopped.
Tom: Well Animal Aid don’t want people to have animals as pets full stop.
Will: Exactly. There are far greater problems in this world. These horses get the best care, you’ve been here today and see how they’re treated. They are wild animals and we do breed them to do a job, but they will do terrible things. But with the lame horse on that programme, if he was transported like that then that is shocking but he could have done that, for all we know, whilst being transported. I do feel it was very one sided but we need to keep striving to do more and make these cases less. There was no side to that programme showing all the horses doing ROR (Retraining of Racehorses) and have a great after life. It was sensationalism in the large part and the majority of horses get really well looked after but unfortunately there are some sick people in this world who do sick things.
Tom: And anything we can do to minimise that is needed. Horse racing has always struggled with its image and I think syndicates are a great way to change that image and the sport should embrace that because people can be shown the realities so having TopSpeed we can bring people to see how the horses are treated. Like, how many people know that at Jonjo O’Neill’s there is a spa and a solarium and a swimming pool and a dedicated spa manager to make sure the animals are looked after. Racing needs to educate people because it’s got so much it can offer that other sports can’t.
Will: It’s come a long way, it’s made a lot of good changes like the whip and the fences at Aintree and stuff like that, horse welfare has come a long way. But there also has to come a point where there is so much we can do before it becomes something different.
And mentioning the whip there, where do you stand with the jockey bans, do they work or should the horse be disqualified if the jockey uses it too many times?
Will: I don’t think the horse should be thrown out of the race, it’s not the horses fault or the owners fault who pays the bills.
Tom: But I don’t think the jockey ban works, it’s not a big enough deterrent at the minute for those top races and that’s where they need to look at making changes. For example, The Hundred, they were fining teams for not bowling their overs quick enough and it didn’t work so now they’ve changed it, that’s what racing has been doing, they’re fining the jockey’s with bans and it hasn’t changed. Racing needs to have a look at how it can punish jockey’s who haven’t done it properly. But throwing the horse out as an owner, I can see both sides to the argument.
Perfect example is Native River in the Gold Cup, everyone knows I love Native River, but Richard Johnson used his whip too many times and ended up with a ban, in that race if he hadn’t Might Bite could have got up and beat him, so what can racing do?
Will: It’s a tough one, in terms of yes that was a gruelling race and to an outsider seeing a horse being hit it looks like it’s being beaten, but sometimes you need to keep the horse awake and keeping it decisive for the safety of the horse and the safety of the jockey. But ultimately Native River keeps coming back and winning races. If he didn’t like it he would just stop. In some respects the whip isn’t as bad as some people think it is. Richard was an old school jockey, who’s now obviously retired, so he’s seen all the rules come and go. I actually got banned in a close finish, but I only hit it twice after the last but it was the day after the new rules came in and I remember thinking I didn’t have a clue why the stewards wanted to see me. I think I hit it 10 times instead f 8 or something like that, but there was never more than 2 hits after 1 fence and I wasn’t a big man for using the whip at all but there is a time and a place when you need to use it when a horse is stopping underneath you. On a big occasion like the Gold Cup there is always the argument they’re only doing it because it’s the Gold Cup but sometimes you can lose count.
That was another question I had, in your head are you counting how many times you have used the whip or in that moment when you’re full of adrenaline do you lose count or forget to count?
Will: From the second last to the last to the line you have a fair old idea, but what if you gave them one earlier in the race? You may have forgotten about that one. So yes and no, you have a fair idea, but the argument to that is if in doubt don’t use it again. David Egan, he got fined on Mishriff this year and it was 10% of his winnings which was £100,000 because he won a million, which is an awful lot of money. If you said to a jockey would you win the Gold Cup or Grand National for no money, then I bet they would all say yes of course I would.
Tom: I think the issue is, take Might Bite and Native River, if he hadn’t gone over would Might Bite have won? I would probably say no, I think Native River still would have won because he’s a tough horse. But the bit I get annoyed with is interference, that needs to be looked at because the French have went too far one way but we’re too far the other. You can almost take a horse out of the race because as long as you’re a head clear you’re still fine. That can have a serious impact on the flat.
Will: Maybe a rule where for each hit over the ruled amount they lose a length or something like that, just putting ideas out there. It’s a pretty black and white rule then. So if they finish half a length ahead and hit 1 over then they lose a length and get demoted to second. But you are penalising the owner but that’s the jockey’s responsibility.
Tom: And as an owner, you get a say in what jockey rides your horses so if you have a jockey who has been found as a culprit multiple times who’s lost plenty of lengths you won’t put them on your horse so jockey’s will need to adapt. Having that rule, yes some jockey’s will make a mistake but over time jockeys will modify their behaviour and that’s what you need to do.
Will: It is difficult because riding a horse in a 7 furlong sprint is different to riding a horse in a 3 mile chase around Chepstow on heavy ground, if you’re coming to the last do you want to take that decision away from the jockey that you can’t use the whip if the horse needs it to get him to concentrate. In Richard’s defence, we’re a similar age, that’s how we were educated so you need to educate the jockeys coming through. I find it a grey area that there is the same rule for the flat as well as the jumps, it’s a real difficult one, without killing the sport as well. I was never one to use the whip so when I got my one and only ban it came as a shock but you know occasionally, the horse I rode was in head gear and lively. I’m not for a ban, I think the rules are pretty good at the moment but I don’t like seeing a jockey go over and I don’t like them doing it just because it’s a big event.
Looking from the other side, Richard Johnson as the example, if he hadn’t went over and he had been beaten by Might Bite, he would then potentially get penalised by the stewards for essentially throwing the race.
Tom: Then he’s able to say I gave him the best ride possible, I got to the limit. They keep reducing the number of times the whip can be used, has that resulted in jockeys getting better at riding and controlling a horse and motivating a horse? That’s an interesting side point.
Will: I have a bigger problem when a horse is being hit with no time to respond opposed to how many times it was hit over 3 miles.
Tom: Yeah, if it’s hit every so many miles but then it’s hit 3 times in a row with no time to react in between then that’s a bigger injustice. I think horse racing makes a lot of these issues for themselves by not being transparent and educating those outside of the sport.
Will: Ultimately Richard is not hitting Native River to hurt him, when they crossed the line he was hugging him and kissing him. That horse is then getting cuddled by owners, trainers, everybody. Nobody loves Native River as much as Richard Johnson.
Tom: Zoe would give him a run for his money!
Will: They’re both in it together, I felt like they were very much a match made in heaven. We need to do what we can without ruining the sport. Going off topic slightly, VAR has ruined football, you can keep trying to iron out these things, but I think the rules are pretty good.
You’re both very knowledgeable within breeding and pedigrees, so with the passing of Galileo earlier this year how much of an impact will that have on the breeding side of things within horse racing?
Tom: I’d argue not that big now actually because there are so many of his off-spring that are top class that Coolmore were using him less and less because they were needing crosses for his daughters. I think the legacy he leaves will be massive and it already is. You just need to look at Frankel who is another superstar who may go on to eclipse him.
Will: I think that that’s huge that he doesn’t belong to Coolmore.
That was another question, with Frankel not being at Coolmore, what horse from Coolmore do you now see being their flagship stallion?
Tom: They’ve just brought Wootton Bassett who I think they’ll use to cross with Galileo’s daughters. I think it’s a really interesting time for Coolmore actually, I think they thought they’d solved all their problems with Deep Impact and part of the issue, because Galileo has been so dominant most of their top mares are by him so they can’t use a son of him so they’re going to have those out crosses. It’s interesting he had Gleneagles who lots of people knocked and there was a bit of a resurgence. Australia has done really really well. I just can’t get over the fact that when I visited Coolmore, Gleneagles is the spitting image of his dad, he is literally his twin. I could see him taking on from Coolmore, but I actually think that because they have so many of his daughters, they will focus on the out crossings and it’ll be a case of Camelot and Wootton Bassett.
Will: Obviously the Galileo impact is huge. But ultimately he is the sire of middle distance runners, but the commercial flat market doesn’t really want it anyway. He’s still going to have a legacy for many years to come, as Tom said, he has all of his mares and more foals to be born by him so a special horse may come through. Frankel is just doing amazingly well.
Tom: If you compare Frankel and Galileo like for like, Frankel is ahead of Galileo at the same stage. I think the biggest impact will be over the next few years seeing the relationship between Coolmore and Godolphin or Darley has got a lot better. So you’ve seen them send a lot of their top class Galileo mares get sent to them which has came at a really good time for Coolmore. I think they will also try to promote Wootton Bassett massively but in terms of a son it will be Frankel who will be a clear favourite. And Camelot has already proven he can produce good horses.
Will: It’ll be good because we’ll get to see top class mares go to other stallions too. It is a huge impact that he isn’t there and his legacy will last for years to come and other stallions will naturally take over, which will be a good thing for the breeding industry really.
On from that, Aidan O’Brien has always been given a large crop of Galileo’s off-spring, he also has his two sons who are very young and only just getting started, do you think either of them could beat their dad’s records or now without Galileo here to produce Aidan always had the one up on them?
Tom: I don’t think either of them will go on to beat his record. I think the main issue is that there is two of them. Even if they get supported by Coolmore, unless one of them takes the major role, Aidan get’s all of Coolmore’s power behind him, ultimately if you split that then they won’t have the same fire power he has got. I also thinkk with the way the cycle is going, Godolphin are coming back to when they were in their heyday and I think they will put up a fight with Coolmore for those top races.
You both know racing very well, so are there any young horses or stallions you’d tell people to keep an eye out over the next few years?
Will: In terms of national hunt stallions, it’s a very interesting time with a lot of top leading stallions gone. Walk In The Park has been doing very well in the sales so naturally he’ll have been seen by a lot of good broodmares, so you’d think him. He’s an obvious one to follow. This side of the water is very interesting, Kayf Tara has gone who was the leading light here. We’ve got a lot of younger, unproven stallions. It’s quite an exciting time, you could send a mare to one of these stallions cheaply, then in a couple of years time they become very popular. We have a few foals by Masterstroke who is very well bred and they have a great temperament. We support a lot of British stallions here this year, we’ve sent a few to Nathaniel. I think it’s an exciting time. People are all doom and gloom saying we have no nice stallions but we could be sat here in 5 years time saying how many brilliant stallions we have.
On the flat Bated Breath who is proven and as I said earlier, Gleneagles after being out in the cold a little bit last year.
On Thursday we seen the Racing League start, what did you both think, do you think it will work and do you think it will get a younger audience involved or do you think there is still more that needs to be done?
Tom: We have spoken about this a lot because Will was there as his new business venture Thoroughbid sponsors one of the teams.
Will: I’ve got to say it was a lot of fun, there was a great atmosphere. It was really refreshing. We had some owners in our team who had came all the way from Cornwall or Devon and they were in the last race but because all the horses were in the same colours and were trained by Richard Hannon or Andrew Balding they actually felt like the owner of every horse we had and when the horse ran well and still gained points for the team they felt like they were really a part of it. We had trainers cheering on other trainers horses and because on a day to day basis it’s an individuals game so the vibe was great and everybody there really brought into it and had more fun than they ever anticipated. I just think from a racing point of view, I seen people I knew from Liverpool there who shouted over and wanted a cap and then they were cheering on every horse in blue from there.
Most people who go racing don’t know anything about racing, they go for a day or night out and if you hand them a programme they have no idea what any of it means, they pick a horse on its colour or name or something like that and now they pick a team and know what horse they’re supporting and they have friends supporting other teams. The racing was supremely competitive and loads of prize money.
Being there I thought it was a great success and I’m sure there is loads of things they can change, they’ve had a lot of negative press but all of that is from people who are not involved because they feel like they can’t compete for the great prize money and I understand that but Rome wasn’t built in a day. We need change to appeal to a different audience, we can’t keep saying no to everything and I thought it was brilliant.
Tom: From a neutral point of view, I think there’s lots of good stuff and anything that can bring racing forward is needed. They could have done a few things definitely better, one thing I would do is look at The Hundred because it was highly controversial before it started but now everyone on social media is really enjoying it, including lots of kids, so they should look at The Hundred and learn from them, like the music and stuff. Racing has been panned by traditionalists for having concerts afterwards, whereas if I was the Racing League I would go and find a big name to be on stage and rather than have a concert at the end I’d have them sing a few songs before racing and a song or two in-between each race. You can then have the commentators speak to the band and ask them who they’re all supporting and the fans there for the band will hear them say for example ‘team Thoroughbid’ and suddenly they will be paying attention to the racing to support that team. With The Hundred they have used BBC DJ’s and Chris Hughes, who would have been brilliant for the Racing League – they have built it for the younger audience and racing should therefore bring those aspects into it because some people would go just for the music but then actually quite enjoy the racing because racing is a brilliant sport and has lots to offer.
Will: What I thought was key was every race was competitive and competitive racing, no matter what the standard generates an atmosphere. What generates the atmosphere is the team event because they’re supporting everything Hayley rides or they’re supporting team Thoroughbid and going with their team. If you have an atmosphere, people have fun and come back again. There are things that they can do, but they’ve had a great start and I’m looking forward to next week.
Comparing it to The Hundred which is shown on BBC, do you think it’s going to be a big hit that you can only watch the Racing League on Sky?
Will: To start with, of course, but lots of sport has been lost off terrestrial TV and if you’re doing evening racing a lot of people will want to watch Love Island or whatever, I record that, but the more channels the better.
Tom: I think it’s massive, BBC doesn’t have ads which on other channels annoy people because they’ll switch channels in the ad breaks. I was watching the Racing League but then an advert would come on and I’d turn over to The Hundred and get engrossed in that then all of a sudden switch back and miss a race. A lot of people would say and I am one of them that since BBC lost horse racing how many times have you seen horse racing on BBC for a good reason? Never is the answer to that. All I’ve seen and heard from BBC is all about The Hundred, they’ve got the full weight of their advertising behind it because it’s a big thing because they don’t have as much sport, whereas with Sky they have so many good sports now that it’s fighting with that.
Will: At the moment we’re in a weird time with the Olympics being pushed back and the Lions and a lot of people said why put it on the same day as Goodwood, where actually I think it was a good thing, because people were watching Goodwood and enjoying it and thought Racing League starts tonight lets put that on. I can understand why people think it’s a negative but I think it’s a positive too.
Tom: But if they were watching Goodwood on ITV which most people do, how much were ITV talking about the Racing League? I didn’t watch it so I don’t know the answer to that but I would guess not much.
Will: I think cricket already has an audience, in summer at school what sport do you play? Cricket, not horse racing. So we need to get the message out there because if your parents don’t watch it, you probably won’t either. I think it’s great and like with The Hundred, minds will get turned. If you don’t force change, change will never happen. It’s exciting because it’s racing hopefully moving forward
Will, you sponsor one of the teams with your new venture Thoroughbid, so can you tell people what Thoroughbid is?
Will: Thoroughbid is an auction house, predominantly online that we have just launched. It’s very much trying to bring the bloodstock world, firstly into the 21st century and make it more accessible to people. If a man on the street walked into Doncaster sales and went to buy a horse, they wouldn’t have a clue. Whereas what we’re trying to do is modernise things – physical auctions are great and they will always have their place but ultimately with racing a lot of things haven’t changed. The days of trainers having time off are gone, when you go to Doncaster sales in May there are jumps meetings in the day and on the evening, so if a trainer is going for their traditional end of season sale to buy and sell horses, they now have to send staff to the sales, staff to the meeting in the afternoon, staff on the evening meeting and where does the trainer actually go?
During the pandemic online auctions were huge because to continue working they had no choice, but in Australia online sales are huge partly because the size of the country and they can’t move their horses around as much. But we could tell an awful lot from the videos and pictures, they were very good. There is a huge market for it. This way if you want to see the horses once you see the videos then there is plenty of time to arrange a visit to see them. From an owners point of view you can apply for a horse without going through the trainer, where traditionally the trainer buys the horses then sells them to the owners.
We’re starting with a Sunday evening to start with where people may have a dinner and enjoy the process. It also takes that credit risk away from the trainer, it can be passed straight onto the owner. The biggest USP is that we are limiting credit. If you go to the sales you can buy it then don’t have to pay for 30 days and as the vendor you don’t receive the money for 30 days, whereas this way we are saying we’re going to receive the money and pay the vendor within 7 days. It also saves a lot of money and risks for the owners, trainers and vendors, they have to pay people to go there, look after the horses, the travel there and back and the risk of taking the horses away from their stable to a strange environment for 3 days, the hotels, meals, staff, all of that.
But mostly it’s to bring people in and see the process and the transparency. There’s a huge hunger for it from the owners and trainers so it’s exciting.
On Thursday evening you had a team Thoroughbid winner, from that, you still have Oisin Murphy and Sean Levey to come back, do you see your team doing well or even winning?
Will: I didn’t back it by the way, I thought I did but I backed something else instead. We’re going to win it! It was really really competitive and when I was in the paddock in between race 1 or 2 there was that vibe that everyone had targeted these races and they’re going to for £50,000 a race and £150,000 for the winner of the competition so the trainers are taking it very seriously. I thought the format was really great, 5 furlongs, 6 furlongs, 7 furlongs, it made it really easy to understand and it worked really well. I think our strengths lie possibly in the longer races, but hopefully we will do okay. It’s all good sport.
And finally, for anyone who hasn’t joined TopSpeed yet, in a few short sentences can you tell us why they should join and how they can do so?
Tom: It’s the fun of ownership and having that shared experience with other like minded people and hopefully being able to experience top class horses in big races – that’s our aim for everyone. They can buy as many shares as they’d like on our website.
Will: The fun, the content they get is second to none, the all round experience and you’ll be very much made to feel a part of the team and become more knowledgeable about racing in general.
I want to say a massive thank you to Will and Tom for their hospitality, their time and their knowledge. I had a brilliant day meeting the horses and speaking about all things racing.
If you want to get involved with TopSpeed Thoroughbreds then visit their website to sign up and buy your shares: https://www.topspeedracing.co.uk/ – If you have any questions then please do message me or the guys and those will all be answered for you!
I hope you all enjoyed this interview as much as I have and I will see you all in my next post!