Your browser is out-of-date!

Newer is always better! Why not update your browser to experience the web how it was meant to be? Update my browser now



ITV should take note of Olympics coverage

Sally Duckett - Sunday, August 21, 2016

It has been a fantastic Olympics: medals, efforts, tears, fun, absorbing and successful.

I have also been impressed by the BBC coverage.  Clare Balding is in her perfect role, and one that she clearly enjoys and her enthusiasm is infectious.  She is brilliant at linking the sports, understands just enough of each sport to ask sensible questions.  Yet, as she is not too in-house, she is not too knowing, wants to learn and seems genuinely interested in the individuals and their own outlets. (Of course, always easier when GB is enjoying success...)

The further coverage has also been excellent. Again each sport, activities that most of us only watch once every four years and then only if there are British or Irish chances, has been explained sensibly and clearly, while the on-going conversations between presenters has been fun, chatty and informal yet conducted on an intelligent level and with sensible, but enthused, passion.  It has been a little like watch old-fashioned cricket coverage - or the great multi-sports programme that was Grandstand.

I hope ITV, the new racing broadcasters, have been watching - racing, often viewed as a complicated sport, needs explaining on a frequent basis. The ins and outs of the sport need outlining, so that new viewers can understand just what is going on, yet without dumbing down the coverage.  

When, for instance, was the handicapping system last explained to the TV audience?

Viewers want to understand what they are watching - they don't need to be sidetracked in the mistaken belief by producers that the whole is too complicated for them to get to grips with.



BHA Update on Racing

Sally Duckett - Tuesday, March 01, 2016


Sally went to the BHA’s Update on Racing held at Newbury racecourse today. She reported a very useful meeting, was impressed with Nick Rust and the work that is being planned and carried out by the various teams – in particular his approach with Authorised Betting Partners and an attempt to ensure that predicted drastic fall in Levy for 2017 does not materialise. It will be a hugely worrying situation for the grassroots of this industry if the short fall is not plugged.

Rust’s stance taken with the bookmakers has to be applauded and supported – as he mentioned the claims by the firms that horserace betting has declined can not be verified.

Betting is actually in rude health – the change the bookmakers have seen is the decline in betting shop trade as customers have moved to online betting, which now makes up 50 per cent of the betting take – and is outside of Levy regime.

What the bookmakers want is to be part of the “racing pub” and buying a pint, but only paying for the price of a half!

One area that Sally felt was slightly sidestepped was ownership. While it was acknowledged that the middle tier of ownership has continued to fall, and that Britain only sits in 38th place in a global table showing returns on investment for owners, an actual framework giving ways to improve the situation was not discussed, apart from the fact that in order to do so the finances need to be improved.

Another aspect of the industry relying on a stronger financial situation is staffing. Racing is in a crisis with staffing provisions – a reflection of how poorly resourced this has been in racing for years. While the migration rules have changed, really relying on temporary staff from abroad merely plugged gaps and allowed a poor situation to be ignored.

The racing schools are limited by numbers and new approaches need to be made such as establishing racehorse care apprenticeships, while a greater level self-help by trainers (visiting schools and local communities) and employer training schemes was advocated. This is fine, and really is how racing once educated its staff, but a strong form of financial and logistical help needs to be in place.

There is also a need for a stronger message to be communicated to children and parents detailing what a great, well-regulated and interesting job working in horseracing is.

Rather than writers and commentators concentrating on how hard the job is, how people are working in all weathers and having to get up early – why don’t we sing the praises of working in racing, and explain just what it can teach youngsters?

I have always felt that working in a racing yard should be a first base for all those starting out in the working world. Teenagers learn many aspects of life such as working successfully in a team, that a job is not done until every horse is feed, the need to work through adversity, the lows and when you are just not feeling 'that great', to enjoy the highs of victory and to just enjoy the simple pleasures of work, finding your feet in life after school without too many other external pressures. Working in racing allows youngsters to start out and achieve goals in the generally safe and protected environment of a racing yard.



Louise Ruffell - Tuesday, February 16, 2016