Is racing going broke?

Racing is going bankrupt and the business model it is based on is seriously flawed, was the statement that the new sponsor of the Cheltenham Gold Cup came out with this week.

Radford, the CEO of Timico said: “We all know the prize-money is pathetic at the lower levels. To be critical of racing, it should have started a long time ago to attract non-bookmaker sponsorship, to develop relationships outside the sport, luxury brands, that sort of thing. For too long the authorities have relied on the same relationships.

“The funding model needs to be made anew, and racing needs to be run by professionals who can promote racing properly and bring more money into the game.”

Radford certainly highlights some fundamental flaws in the current structure between British Racing and sponsors. For far too long there has been almost complacency by the UK racecourses that they will always fill up their cards with sponsorship from the bookmaking industry if private industry fails to come to the fore. However, private industry in the main wants to sponsor the flagship meetings in the British racing calendar and is less than enthused by the commercial advantages of sponsoring the likes of a wet Wednesday afternoon at Plumpton during the depths of winter. Unfortunately the “crown jewels” can only be divided up by a limited number of players.

Whilst the bookmakers and the BHA continue their dangerous game of cat and mouse as we move into 2016, especially around the thorny ABP issue, the commercial managers at low profile racecourses continue to try and fish a pond that is beginning to become rather depleted of fish. Even the tiddlers are in short supply.

With news coming last week that the top tier of racing, Royal Ascot is to receive a prize money injection boost of 18%, the racing at the bottom of the pile can only fear for its survival and future unless the whole business model is overhauled.

It is fair to say that racing is teetering on the edge of a dangerous funding precipice.

***

The whip rule is a debate that ebbs and flows over the seasons and this week it came to the forefront once again.

Both the BHA and Professional Jockeys Association on Thursday welcomed the release of statistical data that confirmed that there had been a further decrease in the number of whip offenses in 2015.

However, because there had been an increase in the number of whip suspensions in the Grade One/Group race sphere it was muted by the BHA that they might have the need to start introducing stronger measures such as lengthier bans or even disqualifications.

A PJA statement prepared by their chief executive, Paul Struthers said: “It is my view that those who advocate disqualification or some other form of draconian deterrent on the basis that it is a panacea and will cease breaches overnight are not thinking it through”.

No doubt we will hear much more on this topic throughout 2016.

***

The star of the “Wocket Woy” Youtube channel, Mattie Batchelor was hit with an eight day suspension by the Lingfield stewards this week after being found in breach of the rule regarding horse welfare.

Stewards deemed that Batchelor should have had pulled up his horse far sooner in the race as it had suffered a tendon injury on its left-fore leg.

***

Exactly one week after landing the Welsh Grand National with Mountainous everything was “all white” on the afternoon for trainer Kerry Lee as her runner, Russe Blanc took the Classic Chase at Warwick at odds of 20/1.

Her horse, the only horse in racing officially described as white, outbattled Midnight Prayer up the home straight in the three mile, five furlong event.

Russe Blanc’s jockey Charlie Poste had a saddle slipping issue along the way but he was able to maintain his balance and keep the partnership intact.

Kerry Lee said afterwards: “He won off 127 today, I doubt he’d get in the Grand National, but we might have a look”.

***

Kieren Fallon confirmed this week that he intends to base himself permanently in the US this year as his relationship with owner Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O’Neill goes from strength to strength.

Speaking to the Thoroughbred Daily News, he said “This is where racing is, where it’s all about. There’s great racing here and good people. I love it here.”

Fallon, a six-time champion jockey in Britain, missed a number of intended rides at the latter end of the season here in the UK, citing missed ferries and illness but returned to the US in early November.

The fifty-year-old has been hailed by O’Neill “Kieren has been very helpful in the mornings and is obviously a world-class Hall of Fame rider from Europe,” the trainer said.

Anyone care to price up a Fallon ridden winner at the Breeders’ Cup 2016?

***

“He’ll never recover from that!!!” screamed the racecourse commentator at Leopardstown on Sunday afternoon as Killultagh Vic went down on all his haunches after jumping the final fence well clear in the Novices’ Chase.

With the race now seemingly in the bag for the pursuing Blair Perrone and the second place booked for Lord Scoundrel, Ruby Walsh scooped his mount off the turf and galvanised him to power past the pair and win by a nigh-on-impossible three parts of a length. Amazingly Walsh did all this with just one foot in the irons after performing the most instinctive piece of balancing and race riding you will ever witness in a long time.

Exchange layers were left cursing their bad luck as Killultagh Vic was matched at the maximum price of 999/1 for £835.

***

Top Jump Jockeys (last 14 days): D.Mullins (3/7), B.Cooper (5/13), W.Hutchinson (5/15), B.Geraghty (4/15).

Top Jump Trainers (last 14 days): N.Henderson (3/6), K.Lee (3/7), W.Mullins (7/18), P.Nicholls (4/12).

You can read my weekly column every Monday on the following link:

https://betting.888sport.com/user/732

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