Another black mark for Ascot
Mike Deasy on another black mark for Ascot, the sport’s a winner in Sussex, missing a chance to sell tickets, jump jockeys silks poster is a winner, a final thoughts on the Racing League: a dud, and more
I’m in the middle of attending seven race meetings over nine days. So far that’s been two visits to Ascot and one day apiece to Brighton and Goodwood – personifying the variety which British racing offers.
For the two days at Ascot I was in the same enclosure. What most racecourses call the Premier Enclosure, but not Ascot.
But I’ve now got the hang of Ascot’s different options even though the choice can change from meeting-to-meeting.
What I hadn’t expected, and didn’t appreciate, was that on the second day, Saturday, a sizeable area of the enclosure on the fourth floor of Ascot’s towering grandstand was cordoned off. Racegoers were able to use the area on Friday.
It took out a bar, surrounding tables and chairs, and outside seating offering excellent views of the racecourse.
The area was now the exclusive preserve of a race-sponsor, a charity for the construction industry. Like a lot of professions and trades, the need for charitable support seems out of place, but its presence is clearly needed.
But, whether it’s a charity or a commercial enterprise, it took precedence over admission-paying racegoers.
It meant one less bar on the busier of the two days, fewer outside seats and a premium on indoor tables and chairs.
Ascot is vast. Quite why the 200 charity guests couldn’t be housed somewhere else was a mystery.
Regular Ascot racegoers, including annual badgeholders who have lost all their usual facilities, were not feeling too charitable.
The sport’s a winner in Sussex
Of the other two meetings, in Sussex, the sport was the winner and it was good so see the Class 6 Ian Carnaby Handicap, “the big one” as commentator Simon Holt called it, at Brighton.
The veteran broadcaster and writer has been a long-term sponsor at Brighton, taking pleasure in the bargain-basement sport on offer.
The finish was battled out by Hollie Doyle, Saffie Osborne and Hayley Turner. And, as ever, sticks of Brighton rock were part of the prizes on offer.
Hollie Doyle took the honours (pictured).
Goodwood saw Oisin Murphy ride four winners, including two for Mark Johnston who described him to me as “an incredible jockey” after he won on Outside World, his second winner (pictured).
Next up it’s Doncaster.
With a debate getting off the ground on how racing should promote itself, it seemed strange that Ascot’s programme didn’t advertise forthcoming fixtures.
An oversight or another example of the Berkshire track’s seemingly ambivalence to attracting customers?
Silks poster a winner
Newcastle’s clerk of the course, James Armstrong, has had the splendid idea of producing a print of the silks worn by Grade 1 winners in the 2021/21 jumps season.
And it’s a winner.
The posters are A2 in size (420mm x 594mm), printed on 200gms satin paper, and cost £40 (inc postage and packaging) and will be despatched in a sturdy tube.
You can order and pay by the following methods:
Go to Payments.
My email address:
If this option is available, select: Paying for an item or service.
Follow the steps.
If you don’t have a PayPal account you can send a cheque made payable to James Armstrong, Rose Cottage, Ogle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE20 0AU. Alternatively, James will provide his BACS details.
Please ensure you supply your preferred postal address (and that someone will be able to accept delivery of the tube).
As the dust settles on the inaugural year of the Racing League, a concept which has left these scribblings cold, the merits, or otherwise, of the team racing event are becoming clear.
Sky Sports Racing viewing figures saw a discernible uplift but did not take the sport to anywhere near the “millions” originally envisaged.
Racecourse turnstiles were not sent spinning.
Some headline jockeys did not turn up, and Frankie Dettori made only one appearance.
Bookmakers saw improved turnover but the layers’ analysis suggested the overall effect was to see a consequential dip in Saturday revenue.
Decent enough field sizes are also thought to have impacted on Saturday handicaps.
There are few positives to take away, but one element worth noting was the pull-out sections each day of the League in the Sun.
It’s just a shame that the column inches designed to promote the event were devoted to such a dud.
Nothing to report
There is the legend that in the very early days of the BBC, when it was sound only, there was a day when there was no news bulletin as nothing had happened.
Move on the the modern era and the racing pages on the BBC sport website reported the surprise win of Emeraaty Ana in Haydock’s Sprint Cup.
It was the first racing news item on the website for 12 days.