30th Mar 2012
The days are winging by and the breeding season is at a peak. The new Flat season is here and to a devotee of “speed” racing that makes NOW the best time of all.
HRH Princess Anne visited in early March. We had hoped she would visit in 2010 but the ash cloud prevented that. One of her many achievements was to help with the creation of the Riding for the Disabled charity as far back as 1969. It has made an enormous difference in the years since then and the RDA-I were the centrepiece of the visit to us here. Their enthusiasm and good cheer meant that the day was a huge success. The star of the show was surely Amy Tyrrell who asked Princess Anne “Do you want to pet my pony?”.
Cheltenham did not produce a repeat for our graduate Hurricane Fly but it added to a creeping sense of optimism, to see enormous crowds exultant at the high-quality racing on view. There are definitely better times ahead.
The demise of “LUCK” in the USA had the opposite effect – a rare opportunity to cross over into mainstream TV and the chance to attract positive attention went down with a few equine casualties. This repeats the enormity of the marketing challenge facing us globally. If zero-tolerance of injury or worse to our stars is the standard required, then horseracing cannot meet it.
A new bonus scheme is announced for the UK. Every boost to the rewards for ownership is welcome, however the parochial nature of this initiative is worrying. It is confined to GB-sired stock which, with exceptions, have foaled in GB. This is the opposite of the EBF and the Racing Post Yearling Bonus Scheme, both of which recognise the need for better prize money in the UK, but both of which are strong on cross-border cooperation.
I am reminded of the Kilkenny cats, who fought each other until all that remained were their tails. At the recent ITBA Expo we heard the views from Australia that the bonus schemes there were initially successful but the inter-scheme competition eroded the edge and they are losing impact. If we are back to beggar- my- neighbour, do you think the citizenry will care if European horseracing tears itself apart? No such LUCK.
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