Monday, April 18, 2016

Hope springs eternal

I can't say that I've enjoyed much in the past 10 days as it's been one s**t storm after another, with the storm-in-a-teacup consequent to Chris Humpleby's Wills Award-winning article being merely one, and one of the least major, of the debacles.  I'll get round to outlining at least one of the other debacles - well, probably only one, because there's only so much litigation one can court - but I might wait a while until I have a bit more energy.  The one stemming from my reaction to Chris' article - and, more pertinently, the Racing Post's coverage of it, because that riled me more than the article itself - has been bad enough because I really haven't enjoyed picking up the Racing Post the past two days and reading of my sins in supposedly directing personal criticism towards Chris.

The thing is that that is untrue, and it really pisses me off that I'm being criticised for something which I haven't done.  I have been extremely critical of his article and of the way that the Post has handled it, but I haven't made any personal criticism of Chris.  In fact, I haven't made any personal remarks about him at all, good or bad.  Yet.  But that's about to change because I'm going to do so now.  He and I have engaged in a lengthy and constructive dialogue by email over the past three days and we'll meet up later in the week.  God only knows what Chris thinks of me, but I know what I think of him: he's a normal human being, having proved that by doing once what I'd done umpteen times by the time I had reached his age (ie doing something really dumb without thinking of the consequences, and in the process caused far more offence than was the intention).  There are things which I did and said to people 30-odd years ago that still make me squirm when I think of them now, and I very much doubt that Chris will ever reach my total of faux pas.

But the other thing that's become clear about Chris, over and above that he's a normal human being who makes mistakes the same as we all do, is that his heart seems to be in the right place, and that he would never have submitted that article if he had realised that it would cause the offence which it has.  I have finally reached the stage where (most times, anyway) I can utter one of my favourite phrases with a rueful smile on my face: "Well, if we could turn the clock back, we would; but unfortunately we can't, so life's just going to have to go on as it is."  That's one of the benefits of reaching middle age, that you realise that, even though you'd love to turn the clock back but can't, the world is going to keep turning even as things are.  I'm sure that Chris would turn the clock back if he could, but he can't - but that's life, and no lives have been lost.

Onwards, ever onwards, and most immediately that means going to Wolverhampton tomorrow with Indira (seen in yesterday's blissful early morning sunshine in the third paragraph).  Hope springs eternal.


neil kearns said...

i don't understand why you have been getting it in the neck when the persons who should be taking the criticism the RP editorial team for having done such a poor job in their presentation. The original article is one persons view - as a piece it is thought provoking if not particularly well written - however for the RP to not have accompanied with a piece (either agreeing or otherwise ) is very poor journalism . For you to be taking criticism for highlighting this is ridiculous .

the crux of the issue here is the lack of balance and whichever hat you want to be wearing John you were entirely right to bring this issue forward

I found Lynn's second comment rally interesting her thoughts about working with a valuable animal whilst under the residual effects of the night before being particularly relevant , my problem with her solution is that I do not believe that enforcing any drug testing policy at 6.00 am or earlier could be a logistical nightmare , costly and very very unpopular and as stable staff retention in its own right is a major issue unless blanketed out I could see individual trainers finding life very difficult for themselves

as regards the race movement I was not aware that sponsors cash had not been taken over with the races - which from the sponsors point of view I don't understand as presumably the original reason for the sponsorship was the tv exposure which they got anyway - the one thing I am not agreeing with from your reply John unless you know something I don't is why should it cost anymore to put on a group race rather than say a maiden ?

John Berry said...

Easy one re the extra cost of staging a Group race rather than a maiden race, Neil. Obviously the practical costs (paying racecourse employees, stalls handlers etc.) are the same for each race, but the difference in prize money is massive. The maiden might be worth £5,000, the Group race £50,000 or £500,000.

neil kearns said...

John how much percentage wise of the cost of the prize money comes from the racecourse and how much from the central prize money fund it was always my understanding that the latter contributed the lions share and that the rest came from entry fees , sponsors and a small proportion directly from the course or have i got that totally wrong

John Berry said...

Don't know, Neil. I think that the significance of the sponsor's contribution can vary enormously, from a token payment to a fortune.