Leadership In Racing and Ethical Sponsorship?

Yesterday saw the “Leaders In Racing” conference, basically a big jolly for those who think they are ….erm  …… leaders in racing!

The trouble is, and it’s the sports biggest problem, there are no leaders in racing.

There are plenty who think they are leaders but thinking something does not make it so. Racing is beset by the “too many chiefs, not enough Indians” syndrome.  

I’ve said this before and I will keep saying it, racing is too fractured, too disorganised, to survive in its current format yet those supposedly charged with running the sport cannot, or more accurately, do not want to see it.

The leaders like their little fiefdoms and they want to hold on to their little power bases, even if it is to the detriment of the sport as a whole.

Paul Bittar joined the BHA as the big hope for the sport. He has certainly shown Prime Ministerial qualities in his “leadership”. It is just unfortunate the Prime Minister he has chosen as his role model is the great appeaser Neville Chamberlain. Instead of kow-towing and appeasing the Nazis, Bittar has chosen to kow-tow to and appease the bookmakers.

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One of the speakers at the conference was Channel Four’s Sports Editor Jamie Aitchison, who gave a depressing speech, including the classic lines.

"Racing is now with a broadcaster which can challenge perceptions and knows how to market to an audience," said Aitchison.

"We have carried out major market research which says you can't target the horse, it's got to be about the public and human heroes. To bring more people into racing, it has to be about the jockeys, the trainers and the stories."

Excuse me the sport is called HORSE racing . personally I couldn't give two hoots about the backgrounds, personality (or otherwise) of jockeys and trainers. All I want from my TV coverage is to see the runners in the parade ring and decent coverage of the race without any fancy, arty shots - if we must have the arty shots then save them for the replays.

So is Aitchison seriously suggesting it's pointless concentrating on Frankel and that Queally and Cecil are really the story the public are interested in.

Just who was “market researched” – where is the evidence, or was it some New Labour style forum of trendy lefties?

It looks as though Aitchison is looking to seriously dumb down the coverage.

Equally as worrying Aitchison led the production of Channel Four's Paralympic coverage - well if that is going to be the template for the racing coverage it looks like terrestrial viewers will be subjected to irrelevant "talking heads" and minimal coverage of the actual action and probably heavily delayed.

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A fortnight ago Newmarket staged The Sun Chariot Stakes, or to give it its full name The Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes.

The very same Kingdom Of Bahrain, which murders those protesting peacefully for basic democratic rights.

The very same Kingdom Of Bahrain which throws doctors and nurses in prison for between 5 and 15 years because they treated protestors who were beaten up by the state. Not forgetting raping and sexually assaulting some of the women doctors and nurses during interrogation.

The very same Kingdom Of Bahrain whose minority, but ruling, Sunni Muslims  operates a system of apartheid against Shia Musims, who form two-thirds of the population.

The very same Kingdom Of Bahrain who denies many migrant workers basic human rights.

I could go on.

Yet it seems Newmarket and, by association, racing seemingly has no qualms in accepting such tainted money!!!

Are there any ethics when it comes to sponsorship or is it a case of give us the money, we don’t care where it comes from.

What next the Jimmy Savile Nursery? 


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