Last throw of dice at Valley

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 January, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 January, 2000, 12:00am

Micky Adams will be known only to diehard English soccer fans.

He is a much respected, somewhat abrasive, lower division manager who is currently charged with dragging the once cultured Brighton and Hove Albion, screaming and kicking (literally given their appalling disciplinary record) out of the Third Division.

After one too many recent home defeats, a dismal 0-1 display against arch-rivals Leyton Orient, he warned his senior players they were drinking 'at the last chance saloon'.

He could have been talking about the embattled Happy Valley racetrack, or the once rising star of the local riding ranks, Simon Yim.

The 'worked back' rail is to be used at the Happy Valley meeting on Wednesday night in a laudable bid to overcome the track bias which has been wrecking racing at the troubled city circuit as soon as the rail is moved out.

It is no exaggeration that, with the inception of the worked back rail, the Valley - in its present guise - is supping at the last chance saloon.

This was made all the more apparent by racing there last Wednesday.

The rail was back to the A position - that is, in its original position - and the track seemed to ride more or less even.

All this served to underline were the problems when the rail is out in the B and C positions, because then the bias towards front-runners and/or those racing on the speed has been almost insuperable.

And that has made putting on a race meeting approaching an accepted world standard virtually impossible. The purpose of the worked back rail is to give the back runners and those not on the rail a much more even chance.

The worked back rail, when racing is on the B course as is this Wednesday, is very simply the rail in the B course but moving out to something like the C position round the top bend.

The rail then comes into the home straight at a flatter angle compared to the original B position.

In theory, the back runners and wide runners are given more of an even chance because the flatter angle (the worked back rail) serves to lengthen the home straight by some 25 metres and also to send the leaders and those on the rail more towards the centre of the track as they swing for home compared to the normal B position.

In contrast, those off the rail have a better angle at which to attack the home straight.

Thus the field should be spread across the track.

Whether it works or not is impossible to predict with any certainty.

The problem could be that it does work but that the track has been so badly designed in the first place that the inherent front-running-cum-inside bias that was almost built into it, is too strong to be ameliorated to any significant degree.

This has to be a major concern.

But no one will really know until the worked back rail has been seen in action on the B and C course at the Valley.

It is a worthwhile experiment and it underlines that the Jockey Club is as aware of the problems with the track as anyone else.

Simon Yim was local racing's original ugly duckling.

For more than two years it is no exaggeration to say he looked little short of hopeless as a apprentice rider.

But it was just a question of Yim, with no background in racing at all, taking longer to learn than others.

To his eternal credit he never gave up, worked extremely hard and when he did learn he learned better than most.

Under Patrick Biancone's aegis, he became yet another champion apprentice nurtured by the Frenchman (others include Eric Legrix, Gerald Mosse, William Mongil and Dominic Boeuf).

Yim then went on to compete meaningfully in England during one particular close season, but was brought crashing back down to earth when having his licence revoked by the Licensing Committee in the wake of the ICAC investigations into the local riders' races.

Yim joined a long list of potentially star young local riders who had gone by the wayside - Stanley Chin and Peter Ho are the others who spring most readily to mind.

With the Jockey Club taking such a strong line on the integrity of their racing product, it came as something of a surprise that Yim was to be allowed back as a work rider and maybe, further down the line, become a jockey again.

After all, it was not for nothing that he had his riding privileges withdrawn in the first place.

But by the same token, he was never charged with anything and has spent plenty of time on the sidelines.

Gary Moore was allowed back to ride in Macau after serving a 5.5-year disqualification for betting related offences and was a huge asset to the MJC.

He even applied for a Club Jockey's licence in Hong Kong and there were many who argued he had served his time so why not let him back? So the Jockey Club has again showed its compassionate, almost patrician, side as far as Yim is concerned.

They have done it, too, for the boom but troubled apprentice Roger Yu and did so many years ago for Eddie Lai and also for Alex Yu.

Yim now has to knuckle down and find all the same resolve and determination which transformed him from a hapless apprentice into the top local rider if he is to take advantage of his last-chance saloon.