Racing fans comprise four sets of folk, writes Geoff Banks. The outraged form 49% (A). This group won’t hear, speak or listen to any criticism of the sport. They either work for a racetrack or sit indoors with the curtains shut. The disaffected, numbering 50% (B), a group whose numbers rise annually and constitute some of the biggest moaners in racing. Escapees from the Betfair forum who have absolutely no life to speak of. The third group go racing, but only view it from corporate boxes, don’t drink beer, miss all the fights and haven’t a clue what’s really going on (Group Q). Excuse merchants, apologists and evangelists form another strange sect (Group E). Finally there’s a small section of journos and pundits who’d better shut up or else (X)
The final 1% work for the BHA (Z). The persecuted ones. They would join St Peter being crucified upside down.
The executive are selected by the racetracks on rolling three year contracts. When he arrived the current Chairman knew less about racing than my cat, presided over some notable fails, and was quietly and ‘humbly’ voted into another 3 year term…err.
Look, I know you all think I hate the BHA (Group Z). Come come now, I’m not that bad really, honestly. I’ve made clowns of them once, but I’d like to think their decisions were based on regulating and promoting the sport, not battling bookmakers. Truth is the BHA (Z) hierachy is never going to act for racing for as long as the tracks sit on the board and appoint the leaders.
Turkeys rarely buy Xmas cards. More galloping about the ovals keeps the track bosses in tweed and BHA execs in badges.
Kempton makes more money than any other JCR track (Group A) – except Cheltenham. Pop there on a Wednesday night and you’d swear the gates had been locked shut.
It subsists on an attractive Levy payment for every race. Three runners or fifteen, its all gravy.
The swing to sandpits, to include the gothically dull Newcastle straight (A), has to draw it’s runners from the available horse population. If you’re a prospective jump owner, up against wannabes like Rich Ricci (Q and E), forking out hundreds of thousands for a horse, you can afford 65 pence. They’re stabled at the Mullins pad, coffee machine, babestation and mini-bar in every box. You haven’t got a prayer of winning most weeks, let alone cover your expenses. And your trusty milker can only hack around 5 or 6 times a year. On the all weather, chances are you’ll do better. Even if you’re the only one interested if it wins.
Is it just possible belting out sand races at the rate of 3 meetings a day might harm the winter code? Is there any chance a whole summer of jumps nobody cares about is a pointless exercise, for everyone except Plumpton? Or have I taken leave of my Scottish mind?
Jump Racing sacrificed on the altar of an engorged BHA all weather list. Months of 4 and 5 runner events. It’s not on, and time you fans stood up and demanded change.
This year, and with apologies the excuse merchants (E), the fields in jump racing have never been so poor. 3 and 4 runner events abound. When they’re strung out for 465 yards, this is what sporting people (B) call ‘uncompetitive’or ‘dull’- unless that is you like Formula 1.
The ground isn’t firm. It’s good racing ground, so stop telling me a it’s akin to a bed of nails to a horse. There’s simply too much racing and too few runners to support the code and it cannot roll on for 3 or 4 months in this vein every year, whilst we all sip champagne in our boxes. A couple of weeks ago we had 19 runner fields at Doncaster on the flat. 7/1 the field and 1/4 the odds if you’re a betting man. Competitive, and that attracts people to watch on the telly. Yesterday, I watched Lydia Hislop (X) trying to make Wincanton sound interesting. She should have been awarded a DSO..
So Mr Harman and Mr Rust (Q E and Z), I know the issue of racing volume gets dull, but that’s because you refuse to accept it’s a failed system. I fully accept your jobs depend on the goodwill of masters more interested in Levy than bums on seats. I’m staring at a Kempton card with 3 three runner races and a Carlisle card with a 2 runner heat. It’s your turn in the chair and you’ve got two years left to save a code so many love before you’re replaced by the fellahs who run Southern Rail (Q).
This is a sport very much in crisis, and you are tasked to act in the interests of the sport as a whole, even if the trustees are more interested in levy grants.
Do better than serve out your time and a 0.1 runner increase per race per year. We’ll all be pushing up daisies by the time you start delivering.
Or am I being too diplomatic?
ps. If you want to earn money from Betting, try enforcing a minimum margin on operators in return for hefty levy rate reductions. Not a tip you’ll get from the current crop of non execs.
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