Saturday, May 20, 2017

Pound for your thoughts

All the while that we were enjoying our prolonged dry spell, the worry in the back of the mind was that we would pay for it before too long.  Fingers crossed we have now settled the debt after some prolonged spells of rain during the week.  Yesterday was a horrible day, but we have had a lovely sunny morning today, notwithstanding that we have been told to expect more rain this afternoon.  However, it's remaining dry so far; and the forecast for next week (starting tomorrow, Sunday, obviously) is for warm, dry sunny weather.  So hopefully we can start to enjoy conditions again.

We're never happy about the weather, of course, and so I've been worrying about all this rain.  We had four horses entered for the first half of the week (Sussex Girl and So Much Water at Windsor on Monday, Roy at Brighton on Tuesday, and Hope Is High at Lingfield on the grass on Wednesday) and, predictably, all bar So Much Water are horses who would prefer dry rather than wet ground.  It pained me to do it, but the ground for Windsor was still soft at declaration time and there was more rain forecast so I didn't declare Sussex Girl (seen in the fourth photograph, this morning) because she really seems not to handle soft ground, and it seemed inconceivable that the ground would be dry enough for us.

So she isn't running - and neither, unfortunately, is So Much Water.  They were entered in the same mile maiden race, and I think that So Much Water would have been very happy on the wet track; but sadly she was one of the five of the 19 horses declared who were eliminated.  That's life, I suppose: the horse who was guaranteed a run in the race wouldn't have liked the ground, while the horse who would have liked the ground couldn't get a run.  Ah well - it's still early days in the season, and we'll have plenty of opportunities to run them both subsequently.

Hopefully our plans will be less frustrated later in the week.  It's currently still soft ground at both Brighton and Lingfield, but I'm hopeful that we should have enough time for both courses to dry up enough to be no softer than good come raceday.  I think that we'll run Roy come what may as he would probably cope with any ground to a greater or lesser extent; but Hope Is High (seen in the sixth and seventh photographs) really doesn't like wet tracks at all, so she'll only run if it isn't softer than good.  But we have four (supposedly) drying days between now and then, so fingers crossed we'll be OK.  Both horses seem well and ready to run a nice race.

What else has been happening?  Well, I suppose we ought to touch on 'Poundland Hill'.  This is so strange.  The questions are several.  How has Epsom been able to sell 'branding rights' to a piece of unenclosed common land which it doesn't own?  How does calling the most exclusive area 'The Queen's Stand' and the least exclusive one 'Poundland Hill' tie in with JCR's generally egalitarian policy which at its racecourses has seen the 'Silver Ring' re-named as the 'Family Enclosure' (or whatever) because, although the words 'silver' and 'ring' are not per se disparaging, put together they are seen as denoting a facility for the lower orders?  And why does Poundland see it as a good thing to have its name added to the least chic part of the racecourse?

I think that we can answer them thus.  Epsom isn't really in a position to sell branding rights to the Downs at all, but has done so anyway because it can get away with it because nobody is going to step in to stop it.  Giving the Downs an 'Old Kent Road'-style tag isn't in keeping at all with the 'classless society' policy generally favoured by JCR because the modern way is not to let your poorer 'customers' think that you're looking down on them - but as the people on the Downs aren't customers but are people who can watch the races for free (presumably much to the disgruntlement of JCR) then JCR probably isn't unhappy to be seen to be a bit sniffy about them.  Basically, it appears as if JCR has pulled a fast one and is getting some money by selling something which is not its to sell, while having a little chuckle at the expense of the people who are cheeky enough to watch the racing for free.

And in respect of the third question (and to revisit a topic frequently touched upon in this column) the answer is that marketing men often aren't very bright.  While I accept the 'no such thing as bad publicity' school of thought and while I acknowledge that Poundland has already had plenty of publicity resultant from this seeming faux pas, the answer is that it clearly doesn't do Poundland any favours in having its name added to the Downs, but that's not going to deter the marketing men.  If Poundland wish to put money into the Derby Meeting to boost its (ie Poundland's, not Epsom's) profile, then sponsoring a race (or even part of the racecourse, rather than an adjacent piece of common land from which people who don't pay to get in to the enclosures can watch the racing for nothing) would have been a much better idea.

The Poundland Dash would have had a good ring to it.  Or how about the Poundland Bar, in which every half-pint (or even pint, if Poundland were really to push the boat out) of beer, lager or cider were to cost a pound?  But calling the cheap seats the Poundland Hill really isn't very clever.  But that won't deter these wise guys.  If Longines, a firm world-famous for subjective accuracy, is happy to have its name attached to the 'World Thoroughbred Rankings' (which stem from vague, objective guesswork by some of the very few people on earth who believe that Hartnell is a superior horse to Kitasan Black) and to the 'World's Best Jockey' (which is even sillier) then we can't be taken aback by any marketing man's brainwave, however off-the-wall it may seem.

1 comment:

David Winter said...

Twang.!..that was the very reaction that struck me when I heard that "The Hill" was being marketed by JCE ....what next.!!..the brass neck of it !!! All the years of it being populated by the "little" people, Prince Monolulu, the Fair and our Romany friends our older and supposedly betters now rape it for shekels. And its common ground and the JCE hardly ever even tipped their hat at it !!
What next, The Epsom Tesco car park, [ points redeemable] ...The Asda sponsored toilets [ turnstiles installed and 50p a shy or three for two] ?
I understand that sponsorship Is necessary but surely an element of elegance is required especially when its our Blue Riband meeting. I can't imagine that Santa Anita would have a section of the course named " The Walmart enclosure" or "The KFC paddock". Maybe I am wrong and that does occur, but I find these marketing themes distasteful and somewhat demeaning of the instigators. But as you say John, who cares to challenge them.