Thursday, November 04, 2010

Points of view

I'm going to get political again, I'm afraid. I've got another bee buzzing around in my bonnet which will have to wait for another day, but today I'll return to Racing For Change. I know that I've spoken arguably too much already about Racing For Change, currently most readily associated with the decimation of the traditional autumnal racing programme, but Jim McGrath's resignation from the BHA has turned my attention to this topic once again. As I have spent the past few weeks being amazed by the power given to this quango to do whatever it sees fit to the racing programme, I was heartened to feel that Jim finds its meddling as worrying as I do. If I can add one thing to Jim's words, which you will probably have read in yesterday's Racing Post, it is that I think that the Racing For Change committee has been very misleading in its repeated claims that it has not acted unilaterally, but has consulted racing's interested parties. I have been not aware of any attempt to canvas the views of either owners and trainers on the subject - and, as I am both an owner and a trainer, I think that I would have found out about any surveys which were taking place. Anyway, Jim's decision and statement has moved me to write one of my formerly frequent (but nowadays rare) letters to the Racing Post. I might as well include it in this chapter, because it pretty much says all that I have to say on the subject; and it might end up on the paper's cutting room floor anyway.

Dear Sir

I applaud Jim McGrath for his refreshing blast of common sense (Racing Post, 3rd November) on the subject of the re-arrangement of the racing calendar which is set to take place next autumn. By and large, his comments hit the nail on the head: "I found it very hard to agree with the suggested changes, and am dead against them ... The whole series of changes will make British racing worse and weaker ... There is no merit in the proposals. I've not heard one convincing argument for them". Overall, his view appears to be that they are "complete nonsense" - a view which is shared by all the many people within the sport with whom I have discussed the subject.

I would, though, like to comment on a couple of points which have come out of the article. Firstly, Jim says that he attended meetings on the subject of the changes alongside "owners, breeders, trainers and jockeys" and that "there was not one dissenting voice". What I would like to know, bearing in mind that I have never knowingly met a single owner, breeder, trainer or jockey who is in favour of the changes, is who were these people who gave the changes their approval? Where did the BHA find them?

Secondly, I think that the article was misleading when it described the alterations as having been "accepted by the industry". If we understand the industry to mean the professionals who work in it, my reading of the general reaction to the changes is not that they have been accepted by the industry, rather that they have been foisted upon the industry, despite the industry's view that they are unacceptable.

Yours faithfully

John Berry
Beverley House Stables
Exeter Road

1 comment:

problemwalrus said...

Hear! Hear!
I completely agree.
I don't see any consultation process in place. And if there is I don't see any desire to be open to influence.
Newmarket has sold its soul and one of its crown jewels.An appalling commercial decision.
If the existing "product" is good enough people will watch it and attendances don't seem to be a problem (or a walrus!) as per the figures in todays Racing Post.
THe basic issue is funding.If the bookies keep advertising football betting in their shop windows the levy won't get any bigger.
And they keep advertising football betting because they don't have to pay for it.And as a result they don't want to work collaboratively with racing because it doesn't serve their interests as it would cost too much.
So bet with the Tote everyone!
I could get carried away here.
Instead I'm going to focus on the chance to see the wonderful Goldikova and Zenyatta at the Breeders cup.