Ascot needs a change, the Stewards’ Cup doesn’t, and The Sun makes a regrettable one
Ascot needs a King George day rethink
In the same way as Goodwood’s five-day meeting has, shall we say, a few duff races, the supporting card on King George day at Ascot has the odd indifferent contest. And leading the way is the amateur ladies handicap.
It used to open the card back in the BBC days, when lady jockeys had limited opportunities to ride, were still something of a novelty, and there might be the occasional royal involvement. There was also a rather splendid bit of bling to be won courtesy of sponsors De Beers.
Now, with female jockeys riding as good as any of the male counterparts, an amateur riders contest seems out of place on a Saturday afternoon at such a prestigious fixture. What’s more, this year the race attracted only eight runners, which is not what a handicap should be about.
Time for it for find another home I think.
Betting’s landmark month
August is a landmark month for bookmaking. It began with the ending of betting advertising during live televised sports events before the 9.00 watershed, with racing and the dogs exempted.
It’s a pre-emptive move after the industry’s hapless defence of £100 maximum stake FOBT machines in shops. Also part of the campaign to fend off further restrictions are initiatives to promote responsible gambling as part of football club sponsorship.
It was typical of Paddy Power to do this by unveiling a new shirt design for Huddersfield Town, with the bookies’ name emblazoned on a sash across the shirt front. It got people spitting feathers on social media before it was revealed as a stunt, and gambling awareness would be the key message.
All very amusing, but maybe Paddy Power galvanized those against betting with their bit of whimsy rather than acknowledging the seriousness of problem gambling and missing out on appreciation for their stance.
August has also seen spread-betting operator Sporting Index and betting exchange Betdaq entering the online sports book fray and will see Ireland’s Boylesports open its first British betting shops.
There’s hope with such votes of confidence in such an embattled environment, but the chances are there’ll more players falling by the wayside before long.
Sponsorship is no guarantee of coverage
Many of Glorious Goodwood’s key races were sponsored by Unibet, including Saturday’s Stewards Cup. And calling it such has upset the sponsor. It would seem that many references to the race in the media failed to mention Unibet and the possibility, very tentatively raised, is for the race to be renamed the Unibet Cup.
It wouldn’t be the first time the Stewards have been evicted. 32Red, a sister company to Unibet, changed the name and the response was negative to say they least. Some, who didn’t deliberately overlook mentioning 32Red, subsequently made sure they reminded people that it used to be called the Stewards’ Cup.
Sponsorship is very much what you make of it. It does not work if you pay to have you name attached to the event and expect that to be sufficient for others to refer to it as a result.
We are not going to refer to Racing Breaks Frankie Dettori.
Investec sponsor the Derby and I doubt very much they expect everyone to always call it the Investec Derby. What they do is to advertise the race and their brand’s association to gain maximum awareness.
I suspect Unibet won’t make the change and Goodwood’s Managing Director, Adam Waterworth, said that as far as he was concerned, the race is the “Unibet Stewards’ Cup.”
Perhaps he could help matters if the front of the Goodwood racecard dropped its precious red and yellow design, and instead gave mention to the meeting’s major sponsors and their support of each day’s feature races.
Goodwood’s over-round racecard
Talking of Goodwood’s racecard, it cost racegoers £5. It’s not uncommon for the price to be cranked up on big race days, and Sandown did it for Eclipse day (sorry, Coral Eclipse day) without much by way of additional content.
For Goodwood’s £5 you got an 86-page booklet. It seemed substantial enough, but was substantial in things which didn’t justify £5.
These included four blank pages (a page with just the date on it qualifies as a blank page in my book), 10 pages promoting various Goodwood attractions and facilities, and 12 pages of advertising.
There were six pages which each contained a painting or black-and-white photograph from the archives, which were interesting but light on information, and were the same every day.
That left the remaining fifty-plus pages containing the pre-requisite race details, runners and riders and information of varying degrees of usefulness for the day’s proceedings.
All very nicely produced, but very over-round at £5.
The Sun sets on Templegate
Racing’s press corps has lost another of its members, with Steve Jones (Templegate) being let go by The Sun.
He’s been writing and tipping for the tabloid for 15 years and colleagues said goodbye to him last Friday when he left Goodwood’s press room for good.
The sport is seeing too many good people cast adrift by the media but it’s ironic that The Sun should reduce its number whilst trying to get its online presence through Sun Racing up and running. If its Twitter following of less than 7,000 is anything to go by, it seems an uphill task.
Well worth following
Tipping in public is like defecating in public, a prominent pundit mentioned to me the other day, everyone can see you do it.
The Racing Hub has around half-a-dozen contributors who post their selections on the website, and successes and failures are there for all to see.
So it is especially pleasing to point out that, at the end of July, the 50 Flat 3yo Horses to Follow list for 2019 from the estimable Doug Campbell has turned in a healthy profit.
Ninety-eight points staked, one for every time a horse on the list ran, resulted in a return of 150.88pts to level stakes at SP, a profit of 52.88pts.
The horse to follow 2019/20 list for the jumps is in preparation. We can’t wait.
See the full Horses to Follow feature at http://wp.me/P8e3Dl-1vU