Altered Method runs tonight in the 7.15 ...

Ideas for improving racing

Friday, 07 July 2017

"Habits are at first cobwebs, then cables."

Spanish Proverb.


Koin, Honey Blossom and Astrojewel yesterday

It's a blue sky morning and I think, other than the occasional thunderstorm, it will be staying this way over the weekend. Amazingly all the thunderstorms yesterday went round us but they certainly hit Yarmouth where the cameras were damaged and racing was put back for a while. We've been using all the polytracks Racecourse Side this morning. A few of the horses have needed more cantering than others as it's been a busy week and we shall be having plenty of runners from now on.


Four Fifty Three and Rum Ration

We have two runners today and two tomorrow. Our two today, Dixon and Clearance, both run in the mile and a half maiden at Doncaster at 3.05. This looks an above average maiden and it would do as there are very few of these sorts of races, and if a horse was not bought at auction then you have to take on the cream. Both my two will be handicapped after today's run and we shall then start to have a chance to win races.

Tomorrow we run firstly Velvet Voice in the 3.40 at Leicester. She had three runs last year and she is a big filly with plenty of scope. I think this race will put her straight for the rest of the season. Our other runner is Dot Green in the 7.40 at Nottingham. She is certainly capable of winning this, but she is giving chunks of weight away to some three year olds on the weight for age scale. Let's hope the horses will start to show their ability from now onwards.


Bracken Brae, Stellekaya and Velvet Voice yesterday

above and below


There has been a series of articles this week on the popularity of racing and how it should change and evolve. There are many points that can be addressed and some of them I shall list below, but racing is and always will be popular with the British public, plus everybody else world wide who has a love of horses and racing and history. Some of my and our readers ideas are as follows in no particular order:

1. There is too much racing. Over production always decreases value.

2. An alchohol free area for families.

3. The fixture list needs properly sorting so there is a spread of meetings throughout the country.

4. Disabled facilities need plenty of improvement as most of these are very poor.

5. Do not try to compete with football. Our best meetings are always midweek e.g. Cheltenham, Ascot, York, Goodwood and look what happens in Austalia with the Melboure Cup. Why did they move the Derby?

6. Word of mouth is the best advertising. All the marketing in the world won't beat somebody telling their pals to come and have a great time at the races. They will only do this if the racecourses produce quality service, good racing and a safe environment.

7. Cost of entry to the racecourse is often way too high.

8. Nobody knows who all the various bodies in racing are, who is actually in charge and who makes the decisions and why. I know I don't understand it and I've been in it all my life, so what hope has anybody else got?

9. Make sure there are enough loos and that they are clean.

10. There should be several uniformed "befrienders", if that is the word, who are spaced evenly about the stands, who are informed about everything and who can talk to people whether advising where to go or what to do, be it a minor point or something more technical.

11. There could be two areas on the racecourse one for owners who own the whole horse or down to quarter share owners, plus another area for syndicates and clubs as, on certain days and at certain racecourses, it's impossible to accomodate everybody.

12. There should be plenty of seating everywhere as the Health and Safety rules have seen all the old benches and seats which used to be available disappear. There is nowhere to sit down at a lot of tracks and this certainly needs addressing.

13. The Tote or the new in-house racecourse Totes should come up with a special bet which is easy to understand and would be for a small stake.

14. Racecourses could have their own TV channel with trainers and jockeys wherever possible giving insights into their daily runners. These could be shown on the big screen and in house TV.

15. All race cards should show the afternoon or evening cards for that day at other courses.

16. Food and drinks need to be reasonably priced. Refreshments are often a complete rip off. Phil's piece below is worth reading about this point.

There are of plenty of other issues I could mention, but there is no big problem with racing when it is clearly the second most followed sport. I don't think free tickets or band nights make people love racing. A good experience is what does.


Seven geese a swimming at the stud

Phil on Friday


Racecourse catering has long been the subject of debate  –  its cost especially –  and a trawl through the internet can be a real eye-opener.

Some prices are jaw-dropping – you can have a week’s holiday for less than an afternoon’s racing and hospitality on at least one Grade 1 track if you go ‘top end’ there. The champagne, wine etc. might be missing on the holiday, and probably there will be no real racing. I admit that. But the highest quality hospitality package at one of our best racecourses can set you back some hundreds of pounds. Yes hundreds. I’m not carping – you get what you pay for I suppose, up to a point – and if you want  style, class if you like, you might as well go Group One.

There are still bargains to be had, though. The Pukka pie and pint package at Worcester sounds especially inviting, and most of us can exist with a hot dog or fish and chips anyway.

What is all this leading up to?

Well, as a lad I was taken along to a few race meetings. At Stratford I had my first taste of racecourse catering - and encountered one Billy Booth. While you waited he would slice the fresh bread for your sandwiches horizontally, rather than vertically. He probably invented the phrase ‘doorstep sandwich’. Billy would slap between the foot-long pieces of bread the filling of your choice; beef, ham, pork etc., and he certainly didn’t hold back. You then moved on to help yourself to onions, beetroot, and whatever other delicacies he’d devised, and pile them on top as well.

You might miss the odd race munching your way through that lot but you wouldn’t want any tea when you got home! The price was two shillings (10p) - a very long time ago, though.

Then there was the jellied eels mystery surrounding Great Uncle Robert. I have written about him before. He was slightly eccentric: he would stand out in electrical storms shirtless, arms akimbo, receiving what he perceived to be the magical health-giving properties offered by the raging tempest.

Anyway, when I was considered mature enough – aged about seven or eight – to join members of my clan on various racecourse expeditions I was fascinated to see Great Uncle Robert always dash for the jellied eels stall as soon as we arrived.

I said to him once that he must love jellied eels.

“No, boy”, he replied. “I hate them”.

“Why do you eat so many then?” said I.

“Look at the faces of those blokes standing around the stall and wolfing down their jellied eels. They always look so well nourished”, was Great Uncle Robert’s reasoning.

That’s healthy eating for you …!