Monday, 12 February 2018


Tomt S CC BY-SA 3.0

Before leaving Stanley House for a spell at Manton, John Gosden suggested that the community of Newmarket are fenced off and have their thoughts dominated so much by horse racing that if a nuclear war was raging, they would go about their lives oblivious to it all.

Judging by some of the opinions emanating from some of the town's inhabitants recently, there are also plenty of deluded out of touch individuals when it comes to considering problems in their own profession.

William Jarvis, who has had a training career laid on a plate for him but still underperformed, is concerned how a drop in the minimum stake on the cancerous FOBTS may jeopardise those in his profession.

"The racing industry cannot absorb a drop in prize money and that's a fact. " Jarvis stated, rather pompously.

There is no escape that the intention that FOBTS are designed for is to turn vulnerable individuals upside down and shake them until every remaining penny tumbles from their pockets.

Horse racing in the UK has a bloated fixture list dominated by poor, unattractive fare that fails to inspire not only the emerging generations but the long term fans too. As a result, many are happy to see the shortfall in revenue resulting from the increasing trend for punters to turn their attention to other sports, subsidised by the slot players.

A sport that once took for granted that its position as the dominant source of activity for punters has not only stood still as the other major sports have thrived; it has with its gimmicky makeovers, wall to wall trashy cards and misunderstood 'forward thinking', taken a step backwards and fallen out of the major sport tier.

Fellow Newmarket trainer Mark Tompkins at least understands that if racing is having to rely on FOBTS, then something must be wrong with the model in the first place.

In the USA there has since the millennium been an increase in the number of racetracks turned into what they term as 'Racinos'. These are basically racecourse with large halls full of slot machines which are in operation during the race meeting.

In locations where the racetrack is near to the main river, there have been situations where large riverboat casinos have parked up nearby on a race day to try and entice the players away from the race track, in turn threatening the very existence of the venue as many only survive because of the additional income from the slots.

Curiously, I found a so called  'academic study' from four American University professors who concluded that there had been an increase in the actual horse race wagering at tracks where the slot machines were allowed. They also noted that there was spike on the racing awareness graph in the aftermath of the film Seabiscuit.

One of the UK team covering stateside racing of an evening once stated that the USA is the 'heartland' of the sport. If so, then the sport worldwide is doomed. True, the sport in that country had a golden period in the 1970's that was arguably unrivaled anywhere else in any other country in the world, but in the four decades that have almost passed since there has been no repeat.

In short, the tormented empty minds hooked on the FOBTS are not the same as those who may risk and lose a sizeable amount of money after spending a few days getting stuck into the form for an Ebor day card.

One group would understand and accept the risk and consequences of a poor day, month or year.They garner enjoyment from the challenge. The other would have no idea why they are doing what they are doing but moronically press away at the buttons.

And returning to that comment about Newmarket during a nuclear world war, John Gosden has in the past day added his support for some dreadful sounding new concept that he describes as a ' timely initiative' in light of the predicted fall in revenue from a reduction in maximum per spin FOBT stakes.

This stupid, stupid planned series comprises of a dozen teams with thirty horse each partaking in a series of six £100,000 handicaps.

This in light of the fact that we already know that the team sport concept in racing does not appeal and shows the sport in the wrong light, that valuable handicaps are ten a penny throughout the season, and that all recent new initiatives have failed to broaden the appeal of the sport.

Gosden is out of touch with reality and from his position on the inside knows less about what makes racing truly appeal to those on the outside, than those of us on the outside know about training racehorses, which is not much at all.

Will they ever learn that what they are doing is slowly chipping away at the part of the sport that is unique when put alongside other sports, apart from athletics. A fixture list that retains the same shape as a century ago and one that until recently added new events after careful consideration.

It's now a free for all and more new events, meetings, changes in planning have been introduced in the past thirty years than the previous one hundred and fifty years, without any benefit to the sport as a whole.

In years gone by those who wanted to look ahead to the flat season would already have burnt a considerable amount of midnight oil looking to the Lincoln. Remember that competition run by the Sporting Life where you would pit your skills against the handicapper by trying to predict the Lincoln weights.

One winner impressed them so much that he was given a private handicapping job for the newspaper in days when those jobs paid comparatively well compared with now.

Unfortunately, with the soulless all weather nonsense appearing daily throughout the Winter no one really talks of the Lincoln or Spring double anymore though I suppose some trainers are glad they don't have to run a horse at Cagnes - sur - Mer to try and obtain a fitness advantage.

And with the Ante -Post markets for the classics dominated by masses of pretentiously named Ballydoyle representatives, the Ante-Post markets from Cheltenham a minefield with the multiple options for horses available, we just have the Grand National In Name Only Chase weights to peruse during this week, and that's an event that is merely an imitation of the real event which has now passed by.

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