Here’s a question. As a fan of Racing- do you go racing midweek? What do you think of the Saturday focus and the swing away from racing to the drink culture
Of course all of us have things we like, or not about the sport. Some even dare to voice those opinions publicly, Shame on you.
Well, the sport is badly run, but everyone in charge is still in a job. Odd don’t you think? I think that’s obvious. A BHA that stumbles from one embarrassing headline to another. Policies built to please in particular tenants living upstairs. The Jockey Club and the regulator. In bed over the Associated Betting Partner programme. A sporting farce driven by the Jockey Club. A war on racing’s biggest promoters and sponsors.
The modern day Jockey Club is a pure commercial entity. It’s banner ‘all profits go to Racing.’ Laudable enough, and I’m sure they do.
How would you feel, however if the phrase read ‘all beer profits go to racing.’ Would you consider that so praise worthy?
It is apparent though, that the modern day ideal for all racetracks is to put on their show on Saturdays. Even if TV networks have better sports to cover, or fans would prefer Ascot and Newmarket to race independent of each other. The rest of the week, and indeed the sport as a whole suffers. Simon Bazelgette of JCR, is right to say we cannot deliver great racing every day, yet he shows no inclination whatsoever to move his best fixtures to slots where the sport would clearly benefit the most. And not to oppose football.
And if you were so stuck on Saturday, why would you not bend on race times- such as an evening Derby, or a Sunday St Leger – which wouldn’t compete with England vs Moldova?
Why not therefore just move your Derby back to a Wednesday. Unopposed garguantuan press coverage guaranteed, improved betting turnover and even the BBC would lick its lips to cover. Why not?
A sport focused upon and funded by selling beer.
JCR and Arena arguably now the biggest publicans in the country. Fights are all too common, a mountain of plastic annually to dispose of, and alcoholic sales disappointingly unchecked. I recall the similar attitude of football Chairmen in the eighties. Hooliganism was a ‘society problem.’ Heysell, Hillsborough and Bradford forced them to a rethink. Now football’s record on the same is far better than Racing. Cameras, bearer cards, allocated seating. After all, you won’t see beer cups at Wimbledon or at the Arsenal, in the stands. They’re simply not permitted. Get in a fight at Liverpool and you’ll never get in again. There’s little such controls in place for Racing. Jockey Club bring the beer to their inebriated customers with mobile backpack beer sellers. Doesn’t happen in any other sport I’ve seen.
Why hasn’t the BHA stepped in, with it’s regulatory hat on, to demand change in policy that results in so many fights on British racecourses? That throws hordes of drunks out into the local community after racing?
I’d rather not share a ring with the inebriated and their plastic beakers. I’m sure there are those reading this who understand those sentiments.
Equally, there will be a lot of folk who go Racing for the social side exclusively, caring little for the actual sport. Or to see a concert. JCR can argue, that by pioneering concerts and by the sale of alcohol, that they pump those funds into prize monies and improvements to their facilities.
Racing has major issues to solve. An engorged and un-competitive pattern rewarding our wealthiest owners with a glut of opportunities. Horses that retire at 3. An invisible Derby winner, (can you name him?) A leading jockey that’s recalcitrant.
Let me remind you. Lionel Messi plays every week for the fans and engages with the press. Manchester United and Liverpool will likely play 3 or 4 times this season. No avoidance possible. This is the competition for coverage.
Question 3 –
Does the current Saturday social structure make the sport more sale-worthy, particularly to families and older patrons? If, as the tracks maintain the attendances are holding up, is this sufficient?
For me an event focused on something other than the sport can’t progress. Decline in TV audiences. A drop in press coverage, these are a matter of record, not so surprising with so many days of weak cards and certain scribes avoiding what people want to read about. Reduced betting turnover and profit – less than a half of a few years ago. As well documented as these issues are, yet the sport seem totally averse to any change.
Distressing but true. We plough on with the same business plan.The one built on racetrack big betting’s endless calls for more racing. Even if the pitiful betting profits derived from the sport argue a volume based sport definitively doesn’t work.
Only a powerful and thoroughly independent regulator can re think the sport. If the BHA is unwilling, or unable, to tackle the issues true fans would like addressed, perhaps their sell by date is up. The problem is, Racing’s reluctance to engage on the issues. It’s indeed fortunate for the policy makers the press, with a few brave exceptions, have grown so apathetic.
To exacerbate the feeling nothing is likely to change, both racing televised networks are actually owned by the tracks. They control the output. Issues such as the total volume of racing or social responsibility not likely to see airtime. It’s all a little cosy on these channels. Not that their output isn’t entertaining – but it’s inward facin. Not likely an outspoken bookie is invited to liven up proceedings! A buffet of softballs designed to portray the sport as terrific, even when it’s four runners in the mud. No wonder the viewing figures tumble when 40 year olds are force fed what it’s like to ride a winner. Dull dull, intensely dull. Come on Mr Producer.
Solutions to everything involve the dirty word in the sport. Reduce. Reduce the volume of racing, alcohol, patterns. A BHA that recalls it’s fundamentally an regulator and independent trustees.
I’ll send my CV