Friday, June 14, 2019

Shut up and race!

It's been a very wet week, Monday to Friday (today) inclusive but happily the rain petered out this morning and this evening the sun has come out.  Which is wonderful.  Hopefully the tally of lost meetings this week won't rise about the five at which I believe that it currently stands (ie Uttoxeter and Haydock yesterday, Newton Abbot and Chepstow today, Leicester tomorrow).  We had heavy ground and rain for our trip to Yarmouth on Wednesday with Loving Pearl, but I hope that it will be no wetter than good to soft at Bath tomorrow for Das Kapital.

I definitely don't want fast ground for Das Kapital, but I don't want very wet ground either as he floundered in the heavy at Catterick last autumn.  There's more rain forecast for Bath tomorrow, but it looks as if they're having a nice evening, so hopefully our being in the first race means that the current reading of good to soft will apply.  That should be fine, more helpful than our wide draw anyway.  But it looks a suitable race for him, and one would hope that if he can reproduce (or improve upon) his performance when third at Nottingham nine days ago, then he would be one of the main chances.

One could argue that Loving Pearl appreciated the heavy ground as she had finished eleventh of eleven on fast ground at Newmarket but 'improved' to finish eighth of twelve on the heavy at Yarmouth.  She was, admittedly, beaten ten lengths farther at Yarmouth, but the margins are always much lengthier on heavy than fast ground.  But I'm working on the assumption that she will prefer it less wet, and will try to find drier ground next time.  One would hope that finding drier ground won't be difficult, assuming that she runs at some point between now and Christmas!

I only hope that racing's finances won't be terminally harmed by the loss of the five meetings this week.  The Racing Post carried a feature on the new RCA Chairman David Armstrong the other day, in which he asserted that if the fixture list were reduced by one meeting per week, it would cost 'racing' (whatever that means) £3,000,000 per year.  Under the circumstances, how bad a week has it been with five gone in three days (although, admittedly, it is a rare week which sees five fixtures cancelled)?

When one gets into the realms of seven-(or more) figure sums, I find things hard to follow; but, even so, it is hard to work out where all the money goes if such a tiny contraction of the fixture list causes such a reduction in income.  (And I'm presuming that we're talking about £3,000,000 loss of net income, rather than gross income: if it costs, say, £90,000 to put on a fixture and it generates £100,000, one would say that its cancellation would lead to a £10,000 loss in income for racing, rather than a £100,000 reduction).  Unfortunately we won't find out, as the paradox of the article was that Mr Armstrong asserted that criticism of the RCA over an alleged lack of transparency is unfair, while maintaining that it is important that the facts and figures of the media-rights income should remain confidential.

It's always been hard to work out how the bumble-bee of racing can actually fly, but it's becoming even harder nowadays.  The Levy figures are public knowledge, but we're told that the Levy is an ever less significant factor as media-rights income becomes an ever more major factor.  The only trouble, of course, is that nobody seems to know what it is.  It seems to be the case that attempts by the NTF or other trade bodies to find out are met with a racing version of the unintentionally amusing instruction given to the Dixie Chicks and then turned by them into the title of an album: "Shut up and sing!".

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