Monday, 4 December 2017


Behind the  regular faces and voices that broadcast  horse racing, there are clearly persons unknown pulling the strings, tidying up racing history, and influencing the direction the sport is taking.

Who knows how many of these individuals exist, whether they have a leader who has a final say, or whether they exercise committee style democracy while secretly and slyly trying to influence others.

What cannot be doubted is that they do very much exist and are part of a disturbing trend where the modern media crafts propaganda, as they the spinners believe they know best and what is best for others.

The most disturbing example of this during the past weekend in the racing sphere happened during that innocent looking piece on ITV racing,where they showed Tony McCoy and John Francome playing golf, buddying and talking racing.

During their chit chat, Francome claimed that he would have been just as successful a rider without carrying the whip. McCoy agreed that he too would have enjoyed the same level of success whipless.

Now what on earth has happened to the ' keep your nose out of what you know nowt about '  retort, that would be the normal response from most riders when non horseman made suggestions about whips and the like.

Indeed, when John McCririck used to harp on about banning the whip, whether sincere or just for the purpose of building a niche for himself, he'd be told that he had no knowledge of the area he was trying to reshape, that such subjects were for experienced horseman to debate.

Now, we are led to believe that someone like McCoy is all easy go about not needing a whip, and as far as someone new watching the sport is concerned, probably always felt this way.

There is something very sinister lurking beneath here. And I would not be surprised if there are plans behind the scenes to remove the whip from the sport.

Anyone with a modicum of common sense will realise that an air cushioned whip can cause scant harm to a eighty stone animal high on adrenaline. It is all to do with image.This is why for many years now, twenty four in fact, jockeys are penalised if they raise their whips above shoulder height.

Some very dimwitted persons truly believe that there are a potential multitude of young people who are pondering over whether to become racing fans and who will be put off by the sight of whips being raised in true Eddery and Piggott style.

If there is indeed secret directives issued for racing people to act our of character and be something different to what they really are to re brand the sport, the ridiculous thing about it all is the notion that there exists a would be fresh faced generation watching the sport and becoming fans.

Even Richard Hoiles, from the commentary box, familiarised 'those who may be watching for the first time', with the layout of Newbury. He is wishing.

Let's consider the three TV channel days of the 1970's  - in fact it was not until 1984 that Channel 4 came on the air. Compared to other sports, the live coverage of racing fared well in those times,

Remember, apart from the British Grand Prix you would have to tune into Radio 2 at 7pm on Sunday to find out the result of the Grand Prix. For pictures of the race you would have to buy a copy of Motorsport for your fix of Fittipaldi,Stewart, Sheckter, Lauda, Peterson and Reutemann.

If you wanted to find out how Real Madrid,Bayern Munich or Juventus fared, then you would have to buy a football magazine the following week. The US PGA Golf Tour, well we were oblivious to it. Same with the Tennis tour

What about the England Cricket team on tour. Radio 2 again, but at least there was commentary to help us form the pictures in our minds. The  cricket coverage now, both Sky and BT, is second to no other sport. Those of us staying up through the night cannot have failed to have been impressed by the BT team, particularly how Boycott and Gilchrist pair well together. And there is even a rare bookmaking advert shown at every interval which you never tire of, the one about how 'kwiffing' the Ashes price feels like when that teacher asks you to squash bubbles on bubble wrap

At least with racing, if you were sat at home with the TV switched on with nothing in particular to watch, there would back then be a one in three chance that you would be exposed to it.

Contrast with the present. All sports covered from head to toe, a thousand TV channels readily available, and even further competition from Play Stations, You Tube, i-Players and the like. The chances of newbies tuning into to watch a sport which they feel indifferent to whether it exists or not, are minimal.

On last Friday's ITV racing coverage, the 2017 LBO Manager Of The Year, Ron Hearn, was allowed, unchallenged, to express a forthright opinion about FOBT's , proclaiming that the victims would be betting office staff losing their jobs if the maximum stake per spin was severely reduced

Ed Chamberlin did at least, in defence of the upcoming change, say, ' something had to be done' but failed to elaborate, whether on his own accord or responding to a voice in his ear. Fitzgerald and Harvey chose not to get involved.

Hearn revealed that 60% of the business in his shop is on the FOBT's. Racing people often brush this aside by pointing out the trend to bet via smartphones, while forgetting that this applies to betting on the other sports and forms of betting, including casino games.

If you could see a breakdown of age groups and the sports they bet on, the prognosis for racing would be very grim indeed. The graph would take a steep dive as the age group reduced. And anyone hoping that the present punters aged thirty five and under who would have first suckled on football will turn to horse racing as they mature have no basis for such optimism.

image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

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