The BHA taking too long to deal with complaints
Mike Deasy on the BHA taking too long to deal with complaints, more facile remarks on improving racing, five years of ITV Racing, a much-needed boost for the Racing Leagure, and more
Five years and three months ago a five-man syndicate purchased a horse called George Gently for £130,000. The vendor was Dave Futter and the horse was trained by Dan Skelton (pictured below).
One year on and the new owners became aware that the horse has a serious tendon injury and subsequently sold it for £1,800.
Six months later and the syndicate claimed that Futter told them Skelton had a one-third share in the horse. Futter has denied he said this.
The syndicate also say that Skelton never disclosed his interest in the horse when he encouraged them to buy it. Skelton has denied he had an interest in George Gently.
He did, however, provide the syndicate with a copy of an invoice charging Futter £42,033 in lieu of training fees. The figure is, after commission, one third of the £130,000 purchase price.
The syndicate did not accept the amount was for training and lodged a formal complaint with the BHA. For three years they’ve been trying to get the BHA to look into the matter, without success.
But their perseverance has paid off not least because in late November David Walsh, the Sunday Times chief sports writer, detailed the complaints made by the syndicate, and it seems the BHA’s hand was forced.
Skelton has been charged with a code-of-conduct breach and a disciplinary hearing will ensue.
But why has it taken three years for the syndicate’s complaint to be actioned? And it’s not the first time the BHA has been accused of dragging its feet in responding to formal complaints.
Nobody should be put in a position where they have to continually seek a commitment from the BHA to look into complaints made against licensed people. Ask Bryony Frost.
♦ So, racing in 2022 is underway. Would someone please tell the BBC Sport website in order they can include this year’s fixture list.
It’s not the lack of excitement that’s racing’s problem
Save me, please, from facile remarks about broadening the appeal of racing. The latest uttering comes from the Racecourse Association’s chief executive David Armstrong (pictured).
Quoted by Lee Mottershead in the Racing Post, he said “We need to make things better and appeal to a new, younger audience. We have to make racing more exciting.”
Evidence so far to help achieve this seems to be an increase in the number of opportunities at racecourses to purchase alcohol – particularly premium beers and cocktails, at premium prices.
And that comes with risks, particularly with older, longer-established racegoers finding that being at the course is becoming a less pleasant experience.
One of The Racing Hub’s contributors has decided to give Ascot the swerve and I too will be a less frequent attendee.
And some racecourses where racing enthusiasts are more likely to attend need to invest in their facilities – the antiquated charm of certain racecourses is bordering on the dilapidated.
The underlying issue that impacts the excitement of racing is small fields, caused by too much racing. It’s not even an elephant in the room – it’s a whole damn herd.
But nothing’s going to happen. Not while racecourses receive media rights centred on the number of races they stage
The racing over Christmas and the New Year, certainly that shown on ITV, lacked nothing in excitement.
What would help if racing centralised its marketing and coordinated its brand values. But then these scribblings have already been there. See http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-7z8
Welsh National kept a secret
Chepstow is on the Welsh/English border. Indeed, parts of the town are in Gloucestershire but not the racecourse so the Welsh Grand National meeting was unfortunately held behind closed doors in accordance with Welsh Government Covid restrictions.
It also suffered by being virtually ignored by the Western Mail which describes itself as “The National Newspaper of Wales”.
Come the day of the Principality’s biggest race of the year and the paper’s readers would have been hard-pressed to realise the race, worth £85,000 to the winner, was taking place.
There was an uncredited preview of the three-mile seven-furlong contest but otherwise the race was treated no differently than, say, that day’s Grade 5 EBF Novices Stakes at Wolverhampton.
In fact, there was a form-guide for the all-weather race, worth less than £4,000 to the winner, as there were for nine other races, but none of them at Chepstow.
And why no colours for the main event? Surely, with coverage on ITV4 and Sky Sports Racing, it merited a bit of a splash.
The Western Mail’s Chepstow racecard had the 2.50 down as a “Handicap Chase (Grade 3)”. Coral were credited as sponsoring three other Chepstow races, but not the Welsh Grand National.
The paper’s coverage was woeful.
Game-changer for the Racing League?
The Racing League received a much-needed shot in the arm with the news that this year’s eight evening fixtures are to be shown on ITV4.
These scribblings were less than enthusiastic about the introduction of the League last season, mostly in respect of the commercial decisions surrounding the series.
A major tie-up with The Sun meant other print titles mostly ignored the fixtures. The sponsors who were signed up were underwhelming. Other teams, not least the one from Newmarket, failed to attract sponsors.
The timing meant some days were overshadowed by bigger meetings, such as Goodwood, and “team” racing is an entirely artificial concept.
But coverage on ITV4 could be a game-changer.
A TV audience will increase from an average of 62,000 achieved by Sky Sports Racing to well into six figures, meaning it’s less easy for other media outlets to cold-shoulder the fixtures.
The Racing League aldo becomes more attractive to sponsors. And, judging by the well-received Sky Bet Sunday Series, the style of coverage should be appealing to non-racing enthusiasts, especially if interval times between races are cut to a minimum.
What does need to be addressed is the feeling amongst some trainers that the League wasn’t very inclusive. But then the problem is how do you create coherent teams?
Racing so very nearly blew it with ITV
ITV Racing, celebrating five years of covering the sport, posted some healthy ratings for the Christmas racing. Whilst audience figures in 2020 were never going to be matched due to the lockdown throughout Britain, the numbers were well up on 2019.
The King George VI at Kempton peaked at 1.1m, a near 9% share, compared to 781,000 in 2019; and the Welsh National achieved a high of 758,000, a 6% share, more than 100,000 up on 2019.
And to think that racing’s negotiations for the renewal of the contract with ITV dragged on two years ago through brinkmanship and the sport very nearly blew it.
ITV Racing is one of the best things to happen to the sport in many a year.