Over-hyped Racing, "Noisy Punters" & Sanitised Channel Four

Apparently there has been some race meeting taking place in California for the past couple of days and judging by my Twitter timeline many, including people who I would normally describe as sensible racing journalists, seem to have fallen hook, line and sinker for the organisers hyperbole that the meeting is the “Worlds Championships” of racing.

It needs to be remembered that Americans have a strange view of the world – everything outside their borders is considered alien. Think that’s an exaggeration, have a look at US immigration, the queues are quite clearly labelled “US Citizens” and “Aliens”.

To them the USA is the world, ergo anything which happens in the United States is, by default, a World Championship.

Even in sports like rounders, sorry baseball, they call their domestic championships the World Series.

I recall watching the main TV news bulletin when I was in the States and after 25 minutes of frankly irrelevant “local” news there was a summary of world news led by a major earthquake in China which had killed tens of thousands. It barely warranted 20 seconds of coverage but the caption over the VT said it all, it read “CHINA (The World)” – I suppose that was for the benefit of any viewers who though China was part of the US.    

Get real, the Breeders Cup isn’t the Worlds Championship of racing, it’s a jumped up artificial surface meeting with a couple of races on wholly unsuitable turf going thrown in for good measure.

You can call a turd anything you like but at the end of the day it is still a turd.

Ah, it’s supporters will argue, if it is an overhyped meeting then why do the top European trainers keep sending their horses over there?

The simple answer to that is greed. Make the prize money high enough and, like vultures round a carcase, the owners and trainers will send their horses to the races. Even if they are held on dirt or unsuitable turf conditions. More so when the meeting is held in California, where the Europeans don’t usually fare particularly well.

It’s the same greed that attracts owners and trainers to the racing in Dubai …. again the lure of big money but in the case of Dubai it’s worse than the Breeders Cup.

Owners, trainers, journalists, broadcasters all kowtow to the Dubai racing elite, happy to accept the lavish entertainment and vast prize money, conveniently forgetting these self-same people pay lip service to  human rights.

They are proud to show off their gleaming tower blocks, six star hotels, tax free shopping centres but are not so keen to show the shanty towns and slum conditions the labourers who build these great buildings live in. The foreign workers whose passports are held so they cannot return home until their employers / Dubai Government decide they can. Whose wages are frequently withheld and who, if they dare to protest, are imprisoned.

UK journalists are more than happy to go Dubai and extol the virtues of their generous hosts, yet turn a blind eye to the conditions local journalists have to work under. It’s true that journalists can no longer be jailed for publishing anything the government disapproves of but they can be excluded and banned from publishing anything in the country, which still amounts to state censorship.

None of that matters though because Sheikh Mo, his family and cronies are all good eggs, they give a huge amount of money to UK racing, so we can ignore their little foibles. Plus, of course, our Government don’t want to upset these chappies because we need their oil.

It’s all so nauseating.

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One recurrent theme on the Twitter timeline these past two days is how much of a punters graveyard the Breeders Cup has been this year. It often is, especially when it’s at Santa Anita. If it is such a graveyard then why bet?

If you want to watch the racing why does it have to be with a financial investment?  

I actually do wonder how many people follow racing because of the sport and competition or just because it is a betting medium.

How many “followers” of the sport are able to enjoy or watch a race in which they have no financial interest? I have a feeling it may be a minority.

Yes I do bet but not in every race I watch, I may even go weeks without having a bet, yet I still generally enjoy watching the racing, even without having a financial investment.

Yes there are some races that are so bad it is impossible to enjoy, with or without an investment, the opening maiden at Newmarket on Friday being a recent prime example.

Of course betting also clouds the judgement of those watching the races, isn’t it amazing how many times a horse loses because the jockey is bad / useless / bent or the trainer has told the jockey not to try today etc. etc..

In other words I really hate the pocket talking whingers who will look for every excuse under the sun as to why their selected horse failed to win – of course they rarely ever come up with the correct answer, namely they just backed the wrong donkey.

Even more irritating though, are those who shout from the rooftops when they have backed a winner. Perhaps it is because it’s such a rare occurrence they feel the need to tell the world. Perhaps it is a form of narcissism. Who knows?

The majority of my betting is just for fun with a few “serious” bets each year. However if you were standing next to me watching a race in which I have had a “serious” bet you would be absolutely none the wiser as to whether I had won or lost. I also take a view that a bet is going to be a loser and if it wins it’s a bonus.

For me punting is a very private matter, I’m surprised the number of people who ask me how much I bet, it’s a question I never answer, not even my close family or friends know how much I bet, how much I win (or lose).  The only person who knows how much I bet with my serious betting is my commissioning agent.

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Finally I hope Channel Four Racing yesterday isn’t an example of how things will be when they have all terrestrial racing from January.

Yesterday was meant to be Michael Hills final day as a jockey yet they announced he would not be riding at Newmarket because he was “feeling unwell.”

The truth was he had failed a pre-racing breath test and was suspended from racing by the Stewards.

Why did Channel Four decide to mislead their viewers in not revealing the true reason for Hills not riding?


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