Owners Association continues to draw flak
Mike Deasy on more scrutiny for the Racehorse Owners Association, prize money should be just that, the Post’s deft signing and the Doncaster triangle
Not for the first time, the Racehorse Owners Association (ROA) has come under scrutiny for how it has spent money advanced to it by the Levy Board to progress projects to attract new owners to the sport.
Six months ago, after a long wait, the ROA published a strategy report for which they received funding to the tune of £1.66m.
Reaction was lukewarm to say the least.
These scribblings described the report as a “wish list”. There were calls to investigate how much money could have be spent to produce so little by way of concrete proposals, costings and target dates. A clear case of style over substance.
Most damning was the Racing Post’s Peter Scargill, who wrote that the report “lacks detail, lacks substance and lacks clear and unequivocal measurements and costings to drive British ownership out of its death spiral and on a prosperous trajectory.”
More recently, Scargill chronicled the failure to deliver several elements of the plan despite costs being incurred.
Now there’s another matter to come under scrutiny. The ROA received £90,000 to develop a new parallel brand to its own, the purpose of which was to establish an industry-wide identity for racehorse ownership.
But somewhere along the way it was decided that a new brand would create confusion alongside the ROA’s brand.
Nevertheless, a new brand was created which the ROA duly used to revamp its own corporate identity, which they’ve since been employing across their website, magazine and marketing, not least the huge banner placed across empty seats in the Cheltenham grandstand during last month’s Festival.
It all begs the question will any more funding come the way of the ROA without accountability for delivery against expectations and not seemingly being frittered away with little apparent benefit to the sport.
Prize money is for winning – not just turning up
The ROA got mixed reviews for its decision to redistribute prize money, below pattern race level, so that horses finishing lower down the field got a bigger proportion of the purse.
The Professional Jockeys Association was highly critical, stating the benefit to its members would be negligible.
And it’s not new money, it’s simply a dilution of what’s already on offer and to me it you might as well ditch the term “prize money” and call it “turning up on the day money”.
The Cook Report
Some months ago these scribblings flagged that The Guardian was reducing its staffing levels in the sports department and racing would be affected.
Last month Chris Cook, one of the turf’s very best journalists, announced on Twitter that he’d done his last shift.
But he didn’t have to wait long to be back in gainful employment. The Racing Post swooped and a week later he was writing for the sport’s daily.
And it quickly became clear what a deft signing it had been. In an exclusive this week, he broke the news that former jockey Freddy Tylicki, who suffered a fall at Kempton which left him paralysed, is suing former weighing-room colleague Graham Gibbons in a case which aims to see if Gibbons was liable for causing the injury.
The hearing will be in The Royal Courts of Justice in November and a value has been put on the case of £6m.
Expect more scoops appearing in the Post with the Cook by-line.
A big thank you to all those who sent their best wishes after my last column when I gave un update on my spell in hospital after kidney failure. I’m making progress and the time I next scribble an Of Course column it should be from home.
The Doncaster triangle
Racing on TV has been a godsend these past three months but one thing that has been unsatisfactory is the camera angles at Doncaster.
We all know the horses are going to disappear from view when watched from the stands, but it shouldn’t be the case on TV. But there’s a long rear view of the runners as they head up Rose Hill before they are picked up again, sometimes after disappearing, when they come back down the hill.
As they turned into the home straight, the horses were tracked by a mobile camera virtually all the way to the line, disappearing at times behind advertisement boards. Only within metres of the finish did a camera in the stands go to a close-up of the winner passing the post.
It’s a track where the camera positions need to be rethought.
Not for the first time I’ve come out of WHSmith to find that I’ve purchased yesterday’s Racing Post because it was still on sale. Is there anything which, as Private Eye used to call it, Smugs does well?