More a wish-list than a plan
Mike Deasy on racing’s recovery plan, an owner’s raceday experience and Goodwood going cap in hand
This week saw the BHA publish its nine-point plan for the next phase of racing’s recovery after the hugely damaging impact of Covid10.
But it’s not a plan, it’s a wish-list.
Now there is nothing wrong with a wish-list – you need to have objectives. But the closest the BHA’s announcement came to being a plan was detailing the various working parties in place to pursue the stated aims.
We’ll have a plan when those involved, some probably pulling in different directions, manage to deliver agreement not on what needs to be done but how to do it.
One of the most contentious area is going to be the call for transparency in how media rights are distributed, particularly in racecourse executive contributions to prize-money.
It’s a call led by the Racehorse Owners Association, but the racecourses will be keen that commercial confidentiality is observed. Meanwhile, every senior racecourse executive has been stressing that media rights don’t touch the sides when it come to keeping a track profitable.
So, until we start to see the return of racegoers, the most important of all the objectives, most other issues will not see a speedy resolution.
Fortunately, racing is in a good place for a speedy response to the newly announced pilot scheme which starts on 9 September at Doncaster.
Let’s not forget that, for some weeks now, owners have been allowed at racecourses. And, whilst the numbers may not have been big, a lot can be learnt from ironing out the wrinkles with just a handful of people.
♦ Details of the BHA racing recovery plan Racing Hub News Update http://wp.me/P8e3Dl-3WN
♦ Dates and tracks announced for racegoer pilot schemes http://wp.me/P8e3Dl-3WN
Treated like VIPs
A lot of progress has been made in relation to owners’ experience at the racecourse.
From almost draconian measures, such as not being allowed access to the racecourse until 45 minutes before their horse ran to having to leave within an hour of the race being run.
The situation has now vastly improved judging by the report of an owner for The Racing Hub who was recently at Sandown.
Here’s how their day progressed:
“We were met on arrival and escorted to the owners’ area. Our escort was really informative and explained everything on our way to the bar, including which areas we were allowed to go into.
“We had our temperatures taken and ID checked on arrival, and it was really clear where we could go.
“There was always there someone from the racecourse on hand, including the chairman of Sandown Park who made everyone feel particularly welcome by making a point of chatting to every group that attended.
“We had an excellent complimentary meal and the bar was open, with drink orders were taken at our table.
“The area that we were in gave us access to the paddock, and the steppings and seats to view the racing
“It felt as if Sandown were treating us as VIP’s – it was a wonderful day and, in the circumstances, I don’t think that there was anything else that they could have added.”
Goodwood goes cap in hand
There is something incongruous in Goodwood asking its annual members to donate their 2020 membership fee in order to assist the West Sussex track in tackling their precarious financial situation as Covid19 continues to deny them racegoer revenue.
Like all racecourses, they now only have their media rights income to help keep them going. But there the comparison with almost all tracks ends.
Not many racecourses are situated in the middle of a vast estate with a country house and other parts of the land used for farming, a golf course, a motor racing circuit and airfield.
That doesn’t mean these enterprises are contributing to the upkeep of the Duke of Richmond’s overheads, but it’s more than some, smaller independent tracks can call upon.
And from what I hear from Goodwood annual members, they are not exactly enamoured with the suggestion that they should donate this year’s fee to help out.
It’s that incongruity that’s making them think twice about surrendering their 2020 membership fee of £364.
If it was one of the smaller tracks, reliant almost exclusively on racing to make ends meet, the response might be different. There is a degree of affection shown towards such racecourses and the people who run them.
But Goodwood doesn’t garner the affection of everyone. It is a course that never knowingly undercharges. Whilst annual members paid £364 this year, new members were asked to pay £564.
Why is an extra £200 charged for the privilege of joining Goodwood? What additional overheads are incurred to process a new membership? Who else charges more to get new customers on board for a repeat-business model with fees paid upfront?
Then there is the extra charge for reserved seating at the Glorious Goodwood meeting, much of which remains unoccupied.
Goodwood is not shy of charging premium prices and whilst the raceday experience is one of the best on offer, there are those who are resentful of paying top-whack prices.
That’s why a letter signed “Richmond” hasn’t appealed to everyone.
More Of Course
♦ Not the way to ask the questions http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-4IB
♦ Quit an eventful week as things go http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-4Fq
♦ Unfair burden of proof on trainers http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-4CK
♦ Stating the bleedin’ obvious http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-4Bp
♦ Problems mount up for Jockey Club http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-4v7