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Taking inspiration from Sir Anthony McCoy and Dream Alliance in lockdown

Second-year trainee Luke Evans gives an update on the Godolphin course

Luke Evans (left, back row) and his Godolphin Flying Start class mates
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The world as we know it has changed dramatically over these last few weeks and, unfortunately, the ramifications of Covid-19 are likely to affect many of us for months to come.

We have all had to adapt to our new lives in lockdown and become experts on video communication platforms such as zoom while praying our wifi connection is maintained. Our daily lives have changed considerably and many of us are now conducting work, entertainment and our social lives through online mediums.

The Godolphin Flying Start course has been no different. Being forced to leave Dubai ahead of schedule in March, the course has had to be reworked, with many of the second-year trainees flying back to their home countries earlier than planned.

The management team have worked extremely hard to adjust to the current situation by providing a variety of entrepreneurship and veterinary lectures online.

With limited racing on television and isolation boredom an everyday challenge, I have watched countless replays of top-class festival races from both the Flat and jumps over recent years.

One race from this year’s Cheltenham Festival led me to deviate off track and re-watch several races featuring the masterful Sir Anthony McCoy. Watching the exciting and extremely promising Champ surge up the Cheltenham hill from a seemingly hopeless position to win the RSA Chase under Barry Geraghty in the famous green and gold silks of JP McManus resulted in hours of distraction.

I ended up watching numerous replays featuring the great man after whom the exciting Champ is named pull off several of his own winning feats from seemingly unwinnable positions. Not content with those replays featuring Sir Anthony at his potent best, I decided to re-watch the documentary about the 20-time champion jockey.

This leads to the first documentary which I would highly recommend: Being AP. The documentary provides unprecedented access to Sir Anthony in his final year in the saddle. This picture gives viewers an insight into the makeup and mindset of this exceptional sportsman and highlights the dedication, sacrifice and determination that it takes to dominate the most dangerous of sports for such a long period.

His own words “Pain is temporary, losing is permanent” aptly sum up the drive Sir Anthony possessed to ride a plethora of winners and this documentary does a great job at following the trials and tribulations that are associated with the pursuit of becoming a sporting great.

These career defining words of Sir Anthony have connotations with the period that we currently face. The world today appears immensely different to what it did only a matter of months ago and the global economy is already starting to feel the effects. It is vital that the industry works together to limit the potential long-term permanent damages that today’s societal pains may cause.

The second documentary that I found myself squeezing into those breaks while working from home is a personal favourite of mine: Dark Horse, The Incredible True Story of Dream Alliance.

This heart-warming and inspirational story follows the tale of Dream Alliance, a horse who was expertly trained by Philip Hobbs to defy all odds and return from a tendon injury to win the Welsh Grand National. This emotional story follows the journey of Jan Vokes, a resilient lady from a small coal mining town in deep South Wales, on the quest to breed her own racehorse.

The remarkable documentary follows how Vokes, a barmaid at a local working men’s club from Cefn Fforest, managed to breed and raise a champion stayer from a slagheap allotment and a £300 mare. The adversity which the Alliance Partnership (the syndicate formed by Jan from her local village) had to endure in order to see their ‘working class horse’ reach his full potential is astonishing and this is a must watch documentary for any racing fan.

While the re-watching of documentaries is keeping my yearning for racing at bay, I'm very much ready for live racing to begin once more in the UK.

Clearly, this year’s racing schedule has been fundamentally affected by recent events. Despite this, there is widespread optimism that racing could return in the coming weeks.

The provisional Flat racing pattern set out late last week in a press release from the BHA looks a mouth-watering proposition with no fewer than 20 Group races, including 4 Group 1s, within a three-week period.

I have no doubt that many people are working extremely hard to get racing back on within the UK and let's hope this can be achieved as soon as possible.

As many of us are getting through lockdown with the assistance of documentaries and series, the racing industry may have its very own blockbuster to look forward to on the racetrack, when this great sport finally recommences.


For more information on the course, visit the Godolphin Flying Start website

The provisional Flat racing pattern set out late last week in a press release from the BHA looks a mouth-watering proposition
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