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On the slippery slope to a disaster; The Jockey Club should establish what is the best modern practice for avoiding slipped saddles.

SOMEWHERE today, at Sandown or Ripon, Chester or Perth, a saddle will slip. A jockey will be put in danger, so will a horse, and so will thousands of punters' betting slips.

Most Saturdays, a saddle slips. Last Saturday, it was the turn of Promise Of Glory, a distant last of 13 at Newbury, and Dancing Rio, pulled up when 2-1 co-favourite at Bangor.

The Saturday before, saddles slipped on Just In Time at Ascot and on Bluebelle at Haydock. Just In Time, 6-1 third favourite for the Tripleprint Conditions Stakes, finished a tailed-off last of six; Bluebelle, 9-1 for the Grosvenor Casino Salford Handicap, was pulled up.

Jockeys fear it, punters hate it-and it has happened 100 times already this year. Alan Bailey's Blackeyed Boy managed to achieve the feat twice in five days, finishing a distant last of 15 at Redcar on June 1, and following up with another slipped saddle at Wolverhampton on June 5, when he was pulled up. No inquiry was held; no action taken.

The Jockey Club should establish what is the best modern practice for avoiding slipped saddles, and encourage trainers to adhere to it, or face a fine if a saddle slips without adequate explanation.

Avoiding a slipped saddle isn't a straightforward matter. Horses blow themselves out, so that a tight girth in the saddling box can be a slack one at the start. With fully elastic girths, it can be difficult to know exactly how tight the girth is. The conformation of some horses makes it more difficult to secure the saddle, and so does a resort to tiny saddles to avoid overweight. Hard-pulling horses and erratic jumpers put a lot of pressure on riders and their tack.

But different trainers employ different methods and some are likely to be more effective than others. Some trainers fit breastgirths, partly to prevent saddles slipping backwards, although they can still slip forwards.

Trainers generally use a non-slip pad between the horse and number cloth and some trainers also put a chamois leather between the horse and the pad.

Does that reduce the chance of a slipping saddle, make things worse, or make no difference?

I am not an expert on slipped saddles but the Jockey Club needs to be, and it needs to make sure that every licensed trainer employs appropriate tack and techniques to make a slipped saddle a rarity instead of a commonplace event.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Ashforth, David
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Aug 21, 1999
Words:403
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