If horse racing isn’t to die with its aging fans, two vital factors need to be added to its crash cart: namely marketing and availability.
Currently, racing is limping along without the assistance of either. The marketing team seems unable to attract a decent number of new sponsors while TV coverage of the sport ranges from terrible to non-existent.
It’s a chicken and egg scenario. Sponsors won’t come to a game that isn’t widely broadcast AND watched on TV because their products don’t get maximum exposure. Like justice, horseracing needs to rid itself of the illusion that it’s a cloistered virtue. Somewhere in the 1990s, the idiotic idea that live racing needed to be removed from TV/radio in order to restrict the impact of the illegal bookie gained undeserved traction. The thought still lingers today.
But the mission of eliminating or even significantly reducing illegal bookmaking’s share of the betting market is an impossible one, especially in current circumstances where tote bettors must travel miles to place bets while illegal bookies take bets (and huge risks) on credit by telephone and at friendly neighbourhood outlets.
The only successful strategy is to compete. Online betting and real telephone betting (not one that forces customers to travel miles to fund accounts) is essential. Live racing on TV is the only way to attract new customers and increase betting turnover. By “live racing on TV” I’m not talking about the disaster to which long-time fans are subjected daily by Sportsmax/PBC. I’m talking about a properly produced programme continuously on air from 30 minutes to the first race until 30 minutes after the last with interviews, features and interactive segments in order to keep the viewer entertained and intrigued.
On big race days (Classics; Superstakes) the live races programme should include specialized “gimmick” segments like fashion highlights and reviews and tips from unusual “non-expert” sources like celebrities. Make the sport intimate, friendly and widely attractive.
In the beginning, the racing promoter could meet with media and work out an initially affordable media rights deal on condition that a high quality programme is created and produced. In the beginning the promoter’s parent SVL could kick start matters by sponsoring the broadcast so its subsidiary, SVREL, can earn rights’ fees. Sooner rather than later, other sponsors are sure to come on board, especially if marketing teams learn how to tap into avid racing fans who also control large companies with good cash flows and marketing savvy.
When THAT chicken comes, not only will it be able to happily smoke a cigarette in bed but the egg (sponsors) won’t be turning her back on him in dis-satisfaction. Both chicken and egg will come together.
This regular review of local performances is based on REAL times.
Abbreviations: CT = “Corrected Time”; TV = “Track Variant” (a calculation of the effect of track conditions on official times to arrive at “real” or “corrected” times); TVs are in fifths of a second; “minus” means a fast track; “plus” a slow track (e.g. -2 means fast by 2/5ths of a second). Variants beside horse’s names represent the difference between its official time and the grade standard.
June 1, 2019 [TV-0.4 per 200m (Round)]
Universal Boss (-9) improved as expected stepped up in trip (Race 1; 3yonw2/Imported 3yo+ maidens; 1500m; TV-3) drawing clear final 200m and clocking 1:32.3 (CT 1:33.0). The CT is 1/5th second faster Overnight Allowance standard so this is a miler to follow.
God Of Love (-7) comprehensively beat Father Patrick (-4.5) (Race 7; 3yonw3; 1100m; TV-2) in 1:05.3! The winner’s CT (1:06.0) is 2/5th second faster than non-winners of 3 “other than” (nw3/OT) and 1/5th second faster than Overnight Allowance. He’s a sprinter to follow. The 2nd’s CT (1:06.2’) is a half second faster than nw3 standard so still has his name on one of these.
June 5, 2019 [TV-0.4 per 200m (Round)]
Blind Faith (-8) failed by a short head to make all (Race 4; 3yo maiden fillies condition; 1200m; TV-2). Her CT (1:14.3) is 2/5th second faster than maiden special weight and a second faster than maiden fillies so she’s nailed on for one of these especially over shorter.
The winner, Mamasharondarling (-8) got up last stride and their joint CT is 1/5th second slower than nw2 (but 2/5ths faster than nw2 restricted to fillies). She’s likely to need 1400m+ to win another restricted allowance.
Cryptocurrency (-5), a staying on second, and Casual Drink (-4.5), 3rd, (Race 7; 3yonw2; 1200m; TV-2) produced CTs of 1:13.4/1:13.4’ respectively which are 3/5ths and ½ second faster than the grade so both can gain compensation especially over further. The winner, King Tavari (-6), is on the upgrade so the fact that his CT is 1/5th second slower than the standard for nw3 shouldn’t mean he can’t win in that grade in time.
Overseas Betting Opportunities (OBOs)
Readers, already on a roll with English 2,000 Guineas winner, Magna Grecia, at 11/2, and Lockinge winner Mustashry at 9/1, got the run of a lifetime from Derby pick Japan (3rd at 20/1). Yum Yum.
Next week is Royal Ascot time. At this early stage, I can recommend the likes of Le Brevido (Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes; one mile straight; Tuesday, June 18; 1430GMT; 8.30 a.m. Jamaica time) as a Banker Bet to get punters off to a flying start.
Lightly raced after winning the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2017 at seven furlongs, he was transferred to Aidan O’Brien, on March 21, 2019 (a year after his last run). The master of Ballydoyle seems intent on turning him into a top class miler! Both runs this season seem geared toward this race and he was unlucky in running when 4 lengths 5th of 14 to Mustashry in the Lockinge. He’ll prefer this track and the likely faster ground (was good at Newbury) and is confidently expected to turn the tables.
I also like Seniority as my Royal Ascot NAP (i.e. best value bet) in the popular Royal Hunt Cup (Handicap) on Wednesday (one mile straight; 1700GMT; 11.00 a.m. Jamaica Time) especially as early fancy Ledham has been withdrawn. He was favourite to win this last year but the race came much too soon for him and he has obviously been targeted at it ever since. He’ll come to Ascot cherry ripe.
Sir Michael Stoute’s stable has been on fire from the start of this season and three of his strike me as likely Royal Ascot winners. He’s also an excellent candidate for Champion Trainer of the meeting. In assessing his entries always remember that he’s famous as a master trainer of late developing fillies. The three to look out for from the Stoute camp are Rawdda (Group 2 Duke of Cambridge Stakes; fillies; one mile straight; June 19; 1620GMT; 10.20 a.m. Jamaica Time); Jubiloso (Group 1 Coronation Stakes; fillies; one mile round; June 21; 1620GMT; 10.20a.m. Jamaica Time) and Crystal Ocean (Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes; 12f; June 22; 1540GMT; 9.40 a.m. Jamaica Time).
Royal Ascot is flat racing’s best spectacle. Hopefully, these early picks will help you to enjoy the show.
By the time this is published the first round of the US Open golf will already be completed but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my early fancy to win, Matt Kuchar, has made a good start and can finally earn a Major title. Nobody on tour more deserves to break through at the highest level and time is running out for Matty.
Alternatives must include the greatest golfer of all time (Guess who?) Tiger Woods and, playing on the west coast, another nearly-man who deserves success, Brandt Snedeker, a magician with the putter and California course specialist, is also highly respected.
We close with another notebook horse:
Lake Volta [4yo b.g. Raven’s Pass-Ghanaian (Shamardal)] Speedball Watchable turned a trappy-looking Epsom sprint inside out by scooting clear and breaking the 6f track record. Runner-up Lake Volta carried a 5lb penalty for a recent win and was slightly compromised by stumbling shortly after the off. He just couldn’t recover on this sharp track. He’s also a confirmed front-runner so might always be best on downhill tracks but he led for 6f when 3¾ lengths 6th of 15 to Ripp Orff in a 7f Heritage Handicap at Ascot on soft (October) so the Wokingham (June 22; 6f; 1700GMT; 11.00 a.m. Jamaica Time) could go his way on fast ground. He’s currently at a very attractive price of 33/1. But no matter where he goes next, he’s in the form of his life.