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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Getting the Inside Scoop

Just ask my journalism colleagues—dealing with “new media” issues in the classroom, not to mention in real life, is a bitch. With today’s students so technologically savvy, it’s actually become harder than ever to get them to understand that not all the information they encounter online is truth. Critical thinking is nearly a lost art form, as we’ve become lazy when it comes to consuming, processing and reacting to information. Still, for all its fault, the internet is truly a wondrous thing, isn’t it?

A fascinating recent development has been the online engagement of trainers with racing fans, via Twitter and personal blogs. Want to know the condition of Coolmore runners or upcoming racing plans? Trainer Aidan O’Brien relays information to his wife Annemarie who tweets @aobballydoyle. Also among trainers worldwide who regularly tweet substantive information are Peter Moody (@MoodyRacing) in Australia and Carolyn Costigan (@arravaleracing) in Canada. American trainers tweeting are rarer. While not particularly prolific, Bob Baffert occasionally tweets as @Midnightlute, but most of the big name trainers are silent, leading to sometimes sarcastic, nearly always amusing, faux-accounts for Steve Asmussen (@SteveyAsmussen) and Todd Pletcher (@NotTheToddster).

For more in-depth writing, personal blogs serve a valuable purpose, and without a doubt the queen in this regard is Australia’s renowned lady trainer Gai Waterhouse who’s been blogging on her website since 2007. A wonderful mix of updates, impressions and even controversial comments, Gai is an engaging (and dedicated) writer, posting lengthy entries nearly every day. Really, if you want to learn something about Australian racing and training practices, her blog is a must-read.

Another I highly-recommend (with obvious bias) is Gina Rarick, an American trainer based in Maisons-Laffitte, France, she’s been blogging at Gallop France since 2008 and is a member of our TURF collaborative.

While American horse racing fan bloggers are plentiful, that’s not the case among American trainers. The most revealing site is Graham Motion’s Herringswell Stables, which regularly posts stable news, although not written by the man himself. However, in his homeland of Great Britain, a plethora of trainers pen their thoughts regularly on their websites, including top trainers like Mark Johnston, who has been recording his “Bletherings” since 2009 (archives available here). Also prominent and free with stable news are Luca Cumani, although it’s not clear that the trainer himself is writing the material. Others who clearly are putting down their own very personal thoughts include:
  • John Berry, a Newmarket-based trainer since 1995, he took over Beverley House Stables in 1997 and has been blogging at Stable Life since 2006.
  • Julia Feilden, a former racing secretary and English amateur jockey, she began training in 2005 at Exning outside Newmarket and blogging in 2010.
  • John Best, a Kent-based trainer who posts an interesting weekly video blog update on his runners, although it’s not archived.
  • Amy Weaver, a former assistant trainer for Michael Bell, she’s been out on her own since 2008, and is based at Newmarket. She also regularly tweets @amyweaverracing.
I don’t have any particular insight into why British trainers feel more comfortable than American trainers in penning their thoughts, but it’s honestly quite refreshing—chiefly for fans and horseplayers always hungry for inside information.

1 comments:

Steve Zorn said...

Most US trainers really aren't that computer-literate, but I'd love to see some that are get online. Kiaran McLaughlin is at the Belmont training track clockers' stand every morning with his I-pad, and seems to know how to use it. He could be the source of some interesting insights.