One of BoJo’s mates, Heracles, suggested that “There is nothing permanent except change”, and perhaps this site has been a bit slow in keeping up and worse, even slower in fixing its lack of forward motion.
Luckily, via the website Fiverr, where you can find freelancers standing twenty deep to help fix, design, create, and instruct saps like me on almost anything, I found Mark[*], who has fixed pretty well everything. He has sorted out my email issues and suggested and installed a small, donation pop-up.
In the old Casino days, this donation concept was known as Luck Money. If you had three boxes open on the Blackjack table, and you were playing a second shoe like a demon, drawing brilliantly, doubling down like a computer with RAM to spare, counting cards without realising that you were doing so; you would often get the tap from one of the team, who’d been taking a beating on the wheel, or at Backgammon. You gave them a wedge from your “profits” because only that way could you improve the odds of someone having the wherewithal to pay for dinner at Chelsea Rendezvous or at San Lorenzo, with Mara. Yes, we had some tick – but there’s a finite amount of patience restaurateurs have for bums – even charming ones.
So the emails are back, and some small design changes, plus my words will be seen on Facebook and Twitter. The risk of course is that I shall be flamed, cancelled, and cast aside, hunted down like the rabid unrestructured dog some younger relatives might already see me as. However, my resolve to stand and rail against this pernicious “truth” war, has been strengthened by watching The Killing Fields again over Christmas. My fear is that unless we collectively say this far and no further to these amateur PolPots, our entire ability to have any kind of independent thought will have been removed.
But of course, while I… sorry Mark… have tinkered away trying to restore comms and to build a better mouse trap, I have no idea what has been going on. Did you get the email re moving back in? I fear not.
I was going to tell you that the 2014 Boyd-Cantenac second label (La Croix) had leapt off The New Year’s Eve table screaming “Drink Me.” Who knew that Arbo’s wife could make an outstanding trifle and an even more delicious Prawn cocktail? What’s not to love about Cutter’s duck casserole? It was good, it was fun and we were tucked up by 2:00 am and not a hint of bagpipes or Big Ben or Jools.
With the New Year comes a rebirth of hope and expectancy…. except possibly here at The Chateau D’If. Come the cold light of a Cheltenham New year’s day drizzle, I feared the worse. I suspect we will have many more Harry Dunlops. I fear we will be assailed by people who know better than Greatest Jockey and Chocolate and Scu and the late Hanmer and the still-going Nicky Richards and the entire Easterby clan about animal welfare and animal rights. I might also suggest that in the racecourses’ fight to see who can charge the most amount of money for a Day Out in a collapsing economy, we will all prove the losers. The signs of serious disease in the racing vine are all there:
- Reported attendances for 2022 to date are down almost 15% on 2019 levels.
- Ascot’s British Champions Day was its smallest ever for the meeting
- The average field size has fallen below 8½ for the first time (11½+ in 2001)
- Great Britain stages just six of the world’s hundred richest races.
- Australia 27, Japan 25 and Hong Kong 15.
- The average prize money for Group One races is £1.5 million in the UAE, just above £1 million in Hong Kong and £438,000 in Australia.
- In Britain, it is £302,000
We have spoken about this since April of last year – and still, nothing concrete has been agreed upon. Oh yes, racing has a new structure within the BHA that will be in absolute charge on Wednesdays, unless the RCA says No. Or maybe it’s Thursday if The Owners agree. We have no new ideas and if we do have them, they are thrown into the Bin at the end of the Silver Ring with all the old hamburger wrappings and dropped ice creams. If you think I’m exaggerating, point to one Tote or bookmaker marketing campaign that has gone head-to-head with The National Lottery. Ever. For Heaven’s sake, it’s easier to pick six horses and you can watch them and you can have a guaranteed pool and – and – and… No, let’s go back to the same marketing team we have used for the last twenty years because they’re safe and they call the right people Sir, and have aspirations to be elected to The Jockey Club. For the little people in the boiler room, that is an admirable direction of travel. Huzzah!
My sad guess is that we are probably in the last twenty years of the competitive horseracing model as we know it in the UK. The fact that we allowed the bookmakers to plunder it for 50 years and to build huge commercial enterprises on the back of our money, was simply down to the racing industry’s ongoing and unflagging inability to work together. The meetings are slightly more civilised, and some manners and courtesies are diplomatically maintained, but for racing to change and to survive over the next 24 months, the people on various boards need to throw out the unchangeable and unswerving and start to create synthesis out of the massive self-interest of those involved. As Sergeant Major Lejaune told the Geste brothers; “You either March or Die.”
[*] I cannot recommend Mark enough. Contact him if you have any website issues. His address is: https://www.fiverr.com/developinwp