An Al Duncan musing

17th October 2010 : Al contemplates the dilemma that racecourses face today.

I just happened to be passing the office of a racecourse executive not so long ago, and overheard the following conversation between the General Manager and Commercial Manager (Trevor). Allegedly.

General Manager : These BHA funding cuts are a bit of bad news aren’t they Trevor? Just what can one do?

Trevor : Well, sir, to boost the attendance, I’ve just lined up some after-race entertainment for our evening meetings. You know the sort of stuff, tribute artists, ageing boy bands and even more ageing rock bands who’ll do anything to get exposure at a cheap price.

GM : That’s just the stuff to pull in the crowds on those summer evenings, and bolster the gate money.
That’s good?

T : No sir, that’s bad.
Our normal loyal racing fans wont stay on for the music. The new young set we've attracted will be whooping and hollering all evening, annoying the hell out of the regulars as the strain to view the horses.

GM : That’s bad?

T : No sir, that’s good.
This young set have probably decanted from the office, out to enjoy themselves to the max, and are just the sort we need to boost our bar sales. We’ll please that Racing For Change lot into the bargain, and be held up as a shining example of the new initiative. Plus, I’ve quadrupled the normal food and drinks order, and extra staff have been employed for each evening.

GM : That’s good?

T : No sir, that’s bad.
The place does take some tidying up afterwards. We’ll have to spend more money to employ extra security, as there is increased danger to horses, owners, trainers, stable staff, jockeys and, er, our regular racegoers. These new racegoers are not interested in racing at all, and tend to drink to excess, behave boisterously and frolic all over our lawns. Therefore, they treat each race as frivolous entertainment, to be accompanied by howls of child-like screams.

GM : That’s bad?

T: No sir, that’s good.
Our industry, led by Racing For Change, wants to get rid of the ‘old cloth cap’ stigma that is so unattractive to our youth and middle classes. This new crowd will annoy these old racegoers, you know the sort, middle aged men and older who don’t really attract the sort of ‘new’ racing fans that our industry now prefers. There’s nothing like crowds of twenty and thirty somethings to attract the opposite sex. Get rid of the old stagers, and hey presto! we’ve invented the new rock ‘n’ roll. Next thing we’ll overtake football as the sexiest game, and Sky TV will be encamped on our course for days on end.

GM : That’s good?

T :No sir, that’s bad.
Our research tells us that our new found customers won’t turn up for our normal racedays, making these meetings into losses for us. We’ll lose our current racing patronage, as more likely they’ll stay at home and play on the exchanges.
Pretty soon, economics will take over, the horses, jockeys and betting will be reduced to bit players in terms of all the other attractions – live music, beauty parades, best dressed transsexual, slot machines, Derek Thomson.... the list and opportunities are endless. With the lack of money coming from the Levy, racecourses need to generate their own income – and this will be the way forward. We'll just hold races on days where we know we can make a profit.
Pity about the sport of horse racing though.

GM : That’s bad?

T ...Well......yes sir, I suppose it is.

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