Thursday, 25 February 2016

Controversial Statements

Our friend Lindsay, from Rowleys Catering, was in the racecourse office the other day. 'A colleague of mine,' he said 'asked whether you actually wrote your own blog.' 

I was flattered of course, thinking that Lindsay’s colleague imagined that we employed an expensive ghost writer. 'No.' he said 'She just thought it was full of the usual promotional claptrap that you’d expect from an underpaid PR executive.'
Well that hurt. Because I used to be an underpaid PR executive; it was fun and I’d always laboured under the impression that I’d fooled everyone. I even used to script quotes on behalf of racecourse executives. Only now do I realise that no one believed a word I wrote – and they still don’t. Everything’s too positive, too perfect. And life isn’t really like that. Except for the tips - which win with a rarity that lends a smattering of authenticity to each post (this time it's the turn of Grumeti at Fontwell Park on Sunday).

So this week there will be no promotions, no glossy pictures painted. This week it’s just horseracing: the plain unvarnished truth. Controversial statements all the way...

Let’s start with girls: they’re just not as good as boys. They're slower, weaker and prone to mood swings caused by hormonal fluctuation – after all, that’s why mares are entitled to a weight allowance when running in conditions races isn’t it? Because let’s be clear, I’m talking about horses here and not humans. 

In fact, in case my daughter reads this, let’s just clarify that statement: girls are miles better than boys. Obviously. They’re more intelligent, funnier, prettier and better at performing more than one task at the same time. It’s just a shame that the boys don’t have to carry a 7lb backpack when it comes to the school cross-country event. 

Excitingly, the favourite for this year’s Champion Hurdle is a mare. And such is the spell cast by Annie Power (men are popular; girls always cast a spell) that some people believe that she could win the race with or without a weight allowance. If she wins convincingly, it could help to change attitudes – because we are guilty of discrimination. Male horses, including geldings and entire horses, account for more than 80% of all horses racing over jumps. 

There were fewer horses bred during the recession and, while numbers are recovering, there are still less horses in training now than there were in 2011. In an effort to encourage more racehorse owners to give mares a chance, the industry has come up with a scheme to enhance prize money when a mare wins – by as much as £10,000 for appropriately registered horses. Much better to have them racing than sat in the field.

And what about female jockeys? I’m not going to recommend that they should sit in a field. Tony McCoy suggested that they should receive a weight allowance when riding against male jockeys - a bit like mares. But that’s far too controversial a topic for me; after all, I’m just an ex-PR guy.

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