Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Sunny reflections

I had great plans to enter into this prize-money debate which, thanks to Richard Hannon and William Haggas, is raging currently.  But then, as always, time got away from me.   It's 8.20 pm and I've just got in from the yard; and I generally like to get to bed as soon after 9.00 as I can.  So I don't think that I'll do anything more than touch upon it.  Which probably isn't a bad thing as there isn't much which I can say which won't have been said already.  Although, having said that, I think that comparing the prize money with the cost of the horses is a fairly futile exercise.

If one wants to spend 190,000 guineas or 170,000 guineas or whatever on a horse so that one can have a runner at Windsor on a Monday, then that's fine.  But that's not quite the point: you don't need to spend such sums to have a runner at Windsor on a Monday, or at Southwell on a Sunday.  You spend those sums because you aspire to run at Epsom in the first week of June, at Ascot a couple of weeks later or at Goodwood in the last week of July; and if that doesn't come to pass (as it generally doesn't) then it doesn't come to pass, so reluctantly you end up having to run at Southwell.

So comparing the prize money on offer at the lower-tiers with the exorbitant prices paid for horses who are meant to be racing in the higher tiers is fairly pointless.  If one doubled the prize money in the lower tiers, or multiplied it by ten, it would still be paltry compared to the prices paid for horses who weren't intended to be there.  But what is relevant is the prize money compared to the cost of getting the horse to the race.  Some trainers charge more than others, but there are levels below which one can't be charged.  And basically at the level which is being discussed, the winning owner, who will receive about three quarters of the first prize, will approximately recoup his costs for the month.  Or half his costs for the month if he patronises an expensive stable and the race-meeting isn't too far from home.

And the problem which racing in general faces is that the return for the lucky few needs to be a bit more than that, relative to the cost of trying to win it, to provide anything like enough incentive for sufficiently large numbers of people to keep owning horses.  And people do need to keep owning horses for the sport to continue, although it is easy to overlook that at present because the sport is lucky enough to have a handful of international billionaires whose extensive patronage masks the potentially critical shortfall in numbers of owners.  And that should be something which concerns anyone who wants to see racing survive indefinitely at anything like its current extent.

To move on to a subject which may be happier or may be gloomier, we'll be going to Towcester tomorrow for the bumper with Delatite.  He'll only have five opponents, but they mostly look as if they have some ability, so it would be possible to run very well and fail to finish in the first four.  He's not particularly fast, but then Towcester doesn't put a premium on speed.  And he showed in his run at Huntingdon on Boxing Day that he can run quite well in an average bumper.  And he's fit and well, and has a very good jockey (Harry Cobden, who must be a big advantage in a race restricted to conditional jockeys and amateurs) engaged.  So we can live, as usual, in hope.  Until 5.20 tomorrow afternoon, anyway.

1 comment:

neil kearns said...

well that looked a pretty decent run to me winner looked above average and he held the rest nicely thought he will have a race in him somewhere well done to all