Is the Shergar Cup really that awful?
Mike Deasy asks why do people have a problem with the Shergar Cup, and is there a viable alternative?
Few race meetings draw as hostile a reaction than the Shergar Cup. When The Racing Hub’s Twitter account posted the news that the 2020 running was cancelled, the ”likes” to the news and the negative comments came to the fore.
Fair enough, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But it’s disappointing that there are racing enthusiasts who cannot tolerate just one meeting out of hundreds which dares to be different.
Whether it’s the team competition element or, more likely, that it comprises a six-race card of 10-runner handicaps with disproportionately high prize-money, nobody really knows. But it’s more divisive than Marmite.
Yet it has merit. The team competition is something which non-racing followers can relate to. The participation of jockeys such as Haley Turner helps theirs and sport’s profile. And, all the races are usually shown on ITV. Being different appeals.
And, what would you have instead of the Shergar Cup? It comes at one of those awkward times in the racing calendar when surrounding weekends are taken up with Group races and big handicaps. The day’s other main meeting is at Newmarket, and that’s not exactly overflowing with must-watch races.
There’s not much room for manoeuvre to put on an alternative meeting that has any “wow” factor.
Whilst some “aficionados” might steer clear of Ascot on Shergar Cup day, there are plenty at the Berkshire track enjoying the day out. And don’t give me the “they’re only there for the beer” comeback – there isn’t a summer’s days sport that doesn’t have people in attendance where the action plays second fiddle to the social occasion.
Moreover, if the event didn’t take place, I’m not sure the support from sponsors Dubai Duty Free would necessarily find its way into racing through an alternative race or meeting.
And, with racing’s finance in a serious situation, anything which generates optimum revenue shouldn’t be shunned.
News of the Shergar Cup’s cancellation didn’t find its way into all corners of the racing media. The Guardian went big on it. The Daily Mirror had a brief mention. Others, including the Racing Post, were playing catch-up.
There are those who say that if the Racing Post is scooped on a news story, it goes into denial.
One method of playing catch-up is to get a reaction to the story, hopefully from someone who pooh-poohs it.
There was a nice example the other day of being beaten to a story and trying to find an angle so as not to appear to be bringing up the rear.
The Racing Post led with a story of a multi-million-euro rescue fund for Irish tracks from Horse Racing Ireland in a bid to secure the financial future of Irish racing’s 26 courses.
The scheme offers a €25,000 compensation payment for every fixture lost. Horse Racing Ireland’s chief executive, Brian Kavanagh, was quoted at length about the need for the compensation and its methodology.
Playing catch-up in this case was the weekly Irish Field newspaper, which was published the next day.
It had the classic seek a reaction response, this time from the Association of Irish Racecourses who welcomed the scheme. The item did not carry any quotes from Kavanagh.
The piece was written by the Irish Field’s editor, with an introduction that read “Leo Powell heard this week of a package to help Irish racecourses.” Yep, as did anyone who saw Friday’s Racing Post front page.
More Of Course
A bumper Royal Ascot 2020, and maybe beyond http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-3XK