It’s another pretty dire day’s racing in the UK, with lots of class 6 and class 5 races.
There is a fair amount being written about Racing For Change and how to improve the image of horseracing. Maybe it is me, but I think that racing is falling into two distinct camps – the changers and the preservers – and the changers are predominantly flat racing people, and the preservers are jumps racing people.
There is no doubt that the image of flat racing is struggling outside of the “trophy” meetings of Chester (May), Royal Ascot, Glorious Goodwood, and York (Ebor). Let’s be honest, does anyone want to spend a wet October weekend at Ascot in your finery stood next to a smelly hog roast van? No, is the answer, but it will probably take 5 years and the wrecking of the reputation of one of the UK’s most prestigious Group 1 races (the Champion Stakes, if you don’t know) before that gem of common sense sinks in to those in charge of racing’s future.
There is much to celebrate in horseracing today, which has taken 200 years to get to where it is, and it cannot be changed – it SHOULD NOT be changed – overnight, just to please the fanciful aspirations of some oik with a 2:1 degree in media studies.
Jump racing is, without doubt, enjoying a renaissance – and the question that should be being asked is why? What can flat racing learn from jump racing? I think the answer is identification. The fans of jump racing can identify with the horses involved in jumps racing because they can follow their careers over a period of years, not months as it is with flat racing.
One thing that has been allowed to wither is the naming of heritage handicaps. It was a knife through my heart when the Bunbury Cup became the 32Red Trophy. What on earth is going on? There should be a list of Heritage Handicaps that should be financed by racing (no sponsors) and their historic names should be preserved. What's more, these handicaps should have their prize-money increased - substantially. Racing needs more prestige.
It will not be possible for those involved in Racing For Change to alter the financial interests of the owners of the very best of the flat racing horses to benefit racing – the best horses are far too valuable in the breeding paddocks. But, while they have a track career the image of the best must be exploited. There must be a concerted effort to get racing (both flat racing and jumps racing) back on the BBC on a Saturday afternoon. I remember when I was a boy in the late-1960’s and both BBC and ITV televised at least 3 meetings between them on a Saturday, involving about 10 or more races. I can still remember the names now; Titus Oates, The Dikler, Spanish Steps, Raffingora, Be Friendly, Park Top.
If the racing hierarchy cannot get racing back on the BBC, then it needs to take advantage of new media technology and allow the public to interact with racing via twitter, facebook, and podcasts. Why can’t we have a 20 minute racing podcast available for download every day at 6am so that the public can see their favourite horses, on the track, at the stables? Let’s build up the drama, the expectation, the anticipation. Don’t change racing – be part of it!
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Thanks from Wayward Lad
Welcome to the "World of Horseracing". This blog has been providing information, comment, and selections for horseracing in the UK and Ireland since March 2010.
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Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Racing for Change? Do me a favour!
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Very well said great stuff keep it up, the bbc used to spend a bit of time between races in the paddock giving a bit of insight to the days racing and more Breeding, History, etc Cheers. MV CORATOReplyDelete