Arriving Last Friday at Newcastle and pulling into the O/T car park with gritted teeth ready to take on the car parking challenge to find a patch of safe terrain on which to travel, I need not have worried. It seems the blog must have some secret admirers as it had definitely been given, if not a complete re- tarmac job, and fairly decent comb-over. My optimism was short lived however as my travelling companion notified me that it was indeed Student Night at our much loved local track.
Most racecourses acknowledge that they need to reach out to try and get more people and yes probably more young people involved in going racing. With this in mind a big “well done “ to David Williamson and the team at Newcastle Racecourse on successfully staging there first ever Student Race night on Friday 1 st March. This brought together students from across the north – east for an evening of racing, entertainment and live music, which aimed to introduce racing to a new generation of potential racing fans. I was advised that an estimated 4000 additional customers had been attracted. Given the state of many by the last race, the minimum spend per person could conservatively be estimated at £20; do the maths yourself on benefit to the racecourse and of course ARC. 80K on beer and wine alone you can see why some within the industry really want younger people involved. Franny Norton gave certain members of the Sky sports racing panel a ribbing , Mr Lynch took it well and returned to the bustling beer pong sector. I feel the only thing missing was a set from the Red Hot Chilli Pipers , a Celtic tribute band to really get those feet shuffling.
To be fair the course, up to our point of speedy departure after the last race, did a magnificent job in maintaining the integrity of the racing for those regular racegoers visiting tonight. The owners lounge was calm and unaffected by the revelry elsewhere. Going to the loos down the staircase could be likened to an episode of the generation game , dodge the broken high heel, untangle left leg from abandoned handbag, we got there in the end. However all in all the staff at the course had planned things really well and deserve recognition for successfully managing the evening.
I was delighted that Rolo(Lukoutoldmakezebak) finished in 3 rd position in what was undoubtedly a very weak class 7 race on the face of it, although the time the winner won in was interesting, and has bolted in since. We were delighted that he travelled so well and at the furlong pole my heart was literally racing as I could envisage him staying on to win. He clearly ran out of gas in the final part of the race, which was not unexpected after 7 months off and lost second narrowly.
Jamie was pleased with how he travelled and he gave him a super ride. There is a race back at Newcastle Friday 8thMarch which we take our chance in as he appears to have come out of his race in fine fettle so here is to hope! Although Rolo is not registered to run as an NE1 Racing Club horse, members of the club will be welcome to attend meetings and enjoy all of the benefits of ownership. I was bemused that there appeared to be a lot of market support for him which did not come from me or anyone connected with the horse. It is genuinely baffling.
The older I get the less I take notice of the price of a horse.Racing post comments are getting more and more generic such as “market will be a guide “ in maidens where we all know that for shrewd yards the market will not be a guide at all. On the wider issue of prize money I respect those owners and trainers that have made a stand against courses which have chosen to reduce prize money (especially those ARC courses.) For me the difficulty is that if you are a single owner or small time operator you pay your training fees, your only chance of recouping any money is by running in races. So if you have a fit horse yet opt not to enter him (for all the right reasons) it makes the whole thing a bit pointless. If someone asked me to swerve a particular race in order for it to have no runners in it, I think I would listen and probably would do it, in order to support the principle of us working together. Boycotting maidens and novice races probably make more sense as owners/ trainers have far greater opportunities to find racing openings away from Arc courses.
John Dance interestingly noted that 45.6% of flat horses in training are operating at Class six or lower. The authorities really do need to be doing more to encourage owners to stick around at this level. Indications from the BHA would indicate that many owners have already indicated that they will not be keeping as many horses in training moving forward which ultimately is likely to lead to a downsizing of the industry, which suits who?? The ARC position on this reminds me of turkeys voting for Christmas.
I must end this blog with a huge thanks to those members already signed up to NE1 , we have some good people involved and we know the club will continue to expand nicely. Please come and say hello if you see us at the course, we are firm believers that racing as with any sport , is better and stronger with a core community.
The NE1 Racing Club