A Yawning Gap? – maybe it’s the elitism not the spectacle!

So horse racing has been identified as a boring sport.  We have all seen the UGov poll published this week and, as expected, many people have had much to say in defence of the sport they love – or hate depending on, of course, personal tastes.most boring sport

I would rather watch paint dry than watch Formula 1 racing.  That said, when I was in Singapore on a rainy day a few years ago with nothing to do, and no freshly painted walls to occupy my time, I watched some Grand Prix or other and remember there were a few crashes, some bad visibility and an excited commentator and, guess what, F1 suddenly became exciting – for 30 minutes until the rain in Singapore stopped and the pool seemed a better option.  And that is the point: all sport is exciting when there are exciting things going on, and it’s tedious to the extreme when there isn’t.

Racing might kick itself and say the poll shows the sport we love to be dull more times

randwick

Crowds at Sydney’s Royal Randwick Racecourse – many of whom own a part of the horses running

than it is exciting, but remember it is still the second largest spectator sport in the country – yes people actually get out of their armchairs and GO RACING!  Football is the most popular of course and this is much to do with the TV coverage and newspaper column inches of course, but it is also because you can buy a £2 football and, at any age, dream of being the next Beckham, or impress your mates with your ball juggling – even if in reality you are an estate agent from Bradford!

Racing does not have that “anyone can do this” affinity.   To become part of the sport the public perception is that you have to be a multi-millionaire, or an Arab prince, or “Lord Monocle of Pass the Port”.  The attempts of the racecourses to attract race-goers has to be applauded.  Even if to the purist, Olly Murs and a best dressed child competition detracts from the racing.  What now needs to happen is the myth of racing being elitist needs to be tackled, and ownership become a possibility.  This is where racing beats football – you are highly unlikely to own a football club but you can own a horse (or part at least).

In Australia around 60% of Aussies own part of a racehorse – albeit the tip of an ear.   In the far-East, albeit fuelled by betting, the crowds are massive and the interest huge – and shared ownership common.  Even in the Arab states where there is no gambling (although despite being a non-gambler I find this reduces the element of jeopardy) a night at Meydan or Jebel Ali is packed to the roof. But racing is seen as an inclusive sport in these places, whereas in the UK it is not.

The rise of syndicates and clubs in the UK and Ireland is a boost much needed to increase this interest.  Many trainers rely increasingly on them to stay in business.  At last many racecourses have increased the owners’ ticket allocation to meet increased shared ownership.  Even the BHA have streamlined the ownership process and made it easier to police the quality and standard of the growing numbers of syndicate bodies – and have a levy system now fit to deliver rewards to the grass roots.

But the very agencies who should be fighting hardest do not.  For all the good changes, the BHA has a policy, as encapsulated in the rules on balloting out, that lower grade horses should be discouraged from running.  Good for the sport? Well it is if we want to keep the riff raff out, but there are many sub-50 rated horses who, when pitted against each other, will make for exciting racing, and low cost ownership options. – as well as swell the levy through betting income.

Great British Racing ; Rod Street and his team – I have yet to see any tangible benefit from their efforts.  Certainly they have the Champions Series but that is Qipco doing all the hard work and making it actually happen.  I remember being at a “do” at Ascot once where GBR were holding a small gathering.  Everyone of those attending it were already owners, and when one young couple approached the cordoned area, they were intercepted by a woman who looked at them like they had stepped in something the dog does and told them “This isn’t for you”!  Well who is it for if not exactly those people?

OB lifestyle

Owner & Breeder magazine – widening the gap? 

Even the superb Owner & Breeder magazine has, in the last few months, dedicated pages of print to “Lifestyle”.  This is a publication which is the gateway to racing yet perpetuates the idea of millionaires and Faberge eggs.  Stop it!

We are quick to turn our nose up at the drunkenness we see at Royal Ascot, and rightly so.  But has anyone stopped to think that these young and, I agree unruly, people are acting like this precisely because they feel like outsiders.  I love to feel special as an owner, but I also resent that racing portrays its participants as champagne swilling, helicopter owning, winter-in-the-Caribbean chinless wonders.  Tell that to the trainers up at 4am, or the breeders knee deep in muck, or the grassroots owners worried if they can pay the mortgage as well as their £100 a month racehorse share.  Aspiration is great but setting unreachable goals and packaging a sport so that it appears that owning a Rolex and driving a Merc are prerequisites will only harm the most exciting sport I know and love.  The only yawning then is not about boredom but the gap between what racing is seen as and what it should be.

 

Advertisements

2018 – Our Biggest Year

NY2018Happy New Year!  And Happy Birthday to all the thoroughbreds out there.  Our foals of 2017 are now yearlings and join an ever increasing band of horses bred by Abacus Bloodstock, who are at various stages of their careers.

Quite apart from the five yearlings however, this year will see the most horses bred by Abacus Bloodstock racing in the UK.  These range from 2 year olds through to our eldest horses aged 5 this year.  Our first homebred racer, the famous Pancake Day is 6 this year but more of him later.

We sold all of the horses who will race as 2 year olds this year, and they include the following:

  • The only colt by Albaasil from his first crop – now owned by Richie Fiddes

    harry 17

    Colt by Mazameer – 2yo for 2018

  • A colt by Mazameer and last foal of Los Organos- now in training with Nikki Evans in Wales
  • A colt by Mawatheeq from a mare related to Golden Horn and in pre-training in the North (trainer yet to be decided)

All colts and all early looking types so we wish them and their new owners all the luck in the world.

Of the 3 year olds, two have raced as 2 yo’s – Elegant Joan (owned by Abacus Bloodstock Racing Club & trained by David Griffiths)

moses on gallop

Tin Fandango – ready to run with Mark Usher and team

and Little Aub (trained by Mark Usher), and will now pursue exciting handicap careers.  Both showed great potential but with a handicap mark they will undoubtedly do well amongst horses of similar capabilities.  Tin Fandango (trained by Mark Usher) has grown into a beautiful looking 3 year old and we should see him on the turf around May.  We have no news of the other 2015 crop yet but we will update the website once we do.

Of the older horses, Roll on Rory (trained by Jason Ward) continues to lead the way from a ratings viewpoint.  He won a smart mile race at Newmarket at the end of the 2017 turf season, and has to be a good prospect off a good mark in 2018.  That is unless he is sold overseas as he nearly was last year – to Hong Kong.

Finally Pancake Day – at six he is the oldest of our bred horses still racing.  Following a successful pre-Christmas campaign in Europe, he ran at Neuss over the New Year period and has shown signs of a growing weakness in his knee.  He has raced over 60 times in a short career and never gives anything but 100%.  He is perfectly sound normally but at the level of professional racing it is likely the weakness will play a vital role.  Owned now by the Berg family in Germany, they have asked us to have him back for his retirement.  We will assess him when he gets back to us, and then, if possible, he will compete in RoR and other non-racing classes as a much loved pet.  We will of course share his exploits in the future.

So with the decorations taken down for another year, we wish all the horses a safe and successful racing year, and to all the owners and trainers we give our thanks for having the faith in owning and  racing our horses.  Good luck to all!