Altered Method runs tonight in the 7.15 ...

Another sweltering day

Wednesday, 30 June 2010


                                                                    Red Barcelona

''It is a mistake to try to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time.''

- Sir Winston Churchill



Another sweltering day and we have just been giving the horses one good canter, then finding some shade for them to pick grass. It is lovely to see the horses so relaxed after a day of fast work yeserday. With this hot weather the pool is working overtime and we have been swimming 60 horses at evening stables - it is just like us having a cooling shower before going to bed.


                   Iain Williams having a rare day at home, riding Power of Dreams

Right, I have my ten point plan to sort out racing. Not everybody will agree but something has to be done very quickly to stabilize the industry. Everybody, in all aspects of life, in these days of recession and financial adjustment worldwide, are having to re-adjust their lifestyle but this massive industry has been stuck in a time warp for too long. We, like many other sports, are run by people who have no comprehension of the needs of the actual sport itself.

Here is my list:

1. Betting - a complete revolution at the Levy Board. It is made up of a mis-match of members, many of whom do not understand the fundamentals of the industry, both betting and racing. The poor returns we now get from the bookmaking industry are only because the bookmakers themselves have manipulated everything to suit themselves without being questioned by the Board. If this was a public company, issuing monthly profit warnings, drastic action would have been taken long ago. The Board needs to understand and I mean really understand the dire straits that the prize money issue is causing. The growth of internet gambling, bookmakers moving overseas, the ever-increasing number of betting shops are only three of many things that help reduce the Levy. They must get a grip quickly.

2. Racecourses - the courses are now and in the future going to get huge funds from the media rights deals they are signing up to at present. When racecourses are getting aproximately £35,000 a day and only putting £21,000 into prize money, i.e. Yarmouth, Wolverhampton, Lingfield, etc. even I, who only went to a Grammar school can work out the sums. The courses must put back into prize money the majority of this cash.

We were told when 48 hour declarations came in, that a certain proportion of the overseas income, from this situation would go back into the prize money pot. Well I can tell you now, we are not getting our rightful percentage, this is another area that needs looking into urgently. As is Sunday racing that everybody agreed to because we were assured that the minimum values would be £10,000 per race. Just look at how much money is on offer at Ayr and Brighton this coming weekend!

3. Owners - they are the life blood of the sport and must be looked after in a much better way than at present. We have a few courses, i.e. Chester, Hamilton and, I must give York a mention here, that have just upgraded their owners' and trainers' facilities, who do a fantastic job and welcome owners with open arms. The feedback we get from these tracks is unbelievable and, if they can do it, every one of the other 55 can. Instead of pushing owners round the back with no view of the course, no free food, drink, etc. they should be the number one concern of all racecourses but I am afraid they are not. We have the best variety and tradition in the world of our racecourses; each one has its own unique selling points and they need to be used but by people, who know what they are doing, not by the present day executives.

4. Breeders premiums - these should only be paid to the owner-breeder, who puts and pays for their horse in training. Once you have sold it at a sale, at the market price, that should be it, no extra subsidy should be paid but if you breed it and put it into training, a premium payment should be a bonus.

5. TV and personnel - we must be the only sport and, I want you to think about this seriously, where we have very few commentators, analysts and presenters, who have been involved professionally within the actual sport. If you watch football, Hanson, Shearer, Lineker on BBC, ITV have similar. If you watch cricket, Holding, Botham, Atherton. If you watch tennis, McEnroe, Becker, Henman. Even darts has Bobby George and, if you could force yourself to watch athletics, we have Kelly Holmes, Steve Cram, etc. All these individuals have been involved at the top level but, in our sport, apart from Johnnie Francome and Mick Fitz., we are bombarded with a variety non-descripts, tipsters and people who like to hear their own voice. Most professionals turn the sound down instantly. Now, we might not have a tremendous amount, who could do the job but we must try them all and, I am sure, plenty would come to the top with their sound experience and knowledge, which people would listen to with great interest and could be attracted by, rather than put off the sport.

6. Jockeys- there must be something majorly wrong with our jockeys or the system is wrong, when there are usually between 60 and 70 jockeys banned or waiting to be banned. Either they are completely stupid or the rules are wrong. With all the mundane racing we have, I am sure they enjoy having days off.

Today, I have run out of time and will complete my list on Friday, as tomorrow is pretty hectic.


                                                                Forgotten Army


                                                                        Ice Magic