.. my reaction to this morning’s headline in the Racing Post stating that there will be a sharp increase in AW fixtures in 2015. Hard to comprehend given poor support of existing fixtures and almost unanimous opposition across the industry. This fundamental conflict of interest between horsemen and the commercial racecourse operators is at the heart of what prevents the sport progressing. If you run a racecourse for maximum profit then you want to put on as much racing as possible for as little cost as possible, the poor attendance is financially outweighed by the other income streams driven by levy, media and data rights. If, as a horseman, you are in racing for sport then you prefer quality over quantity with a structured programme of racing staged over a wide variety of racetracks working towards defined championships each year. ARC cannot be blamed for acting in the best commercial interests of their shareholders and it is difficult to blame the BHA given the backdrop of European Fair Trade law and racing’s track record in this area, a fact that ARC aren’t shy of pointing out. Perhaps the blame lies in the European Courts’ stance on competition, ARC are taking advantage of this and why not; but they are keen not to be seen as the pariah of the sport and have recently been proactive in that regard but perhaps they need to explain why increasing AW fixtures is a “crucial opportunity to maximise prize money.” They believe that increasing betting opportunities indefinitely maximises betting turnover, I disagree, more and more mediocrity turns people away from the sport and eventually you will be left with only with those equally happy betting on virtual racing; sometimes less can mean more – look at Hong Kong for instance, those who love racing as a sport must fight to protect it as such safe in the belief that ultimately a more compelling sport will naturally drive betting turnover higher relative to the alternative.
Enough of that, a bit “close” this morning and rain coming again, horses scattered around the farm but will pull them all together again to compare tomorrow morning, then it’s the local show and a quick trip to Ireland early next week, horse to see in Limerick on Monday evening and Fairyhouse for the sales on Tuesday.