REALITY bites, and sometimes it brings with it unpleasant or annoying truths.
The cost of living is spiralling upwards, and we are seeing prices rise for almost everything in our daily lives. Many people are having to tighten their belts. Discretionary spending will likely come under more and more pressure, and this is already starting to have repercussions.
The effects are being felt more acutely across the water at present, and one of the areas feeling the pain is that of racecourse attendances. The steep fall-off in numbers is compounded by far too much racing, mostly of a mediocre standard. Yet, the demand at the sales for the raw material is strong, as the most recent auctions testify.
I have written about positivity recently, though I sometimes see precious little of it in evidence. Are you a glass half-full or half-empty type of person? I try to be the former, but I don’t wear rose-tinted glasses, even if some would accuse me of that. Being rational, analysing a situation, and then making a reasoned judgement is far healthier.
In the run up to last weekend’s Curragh race meeting, the keyboard naysayers had the knives out for the team at the racecourse, with lots of criticism of their entry fee for Saturday. The eight-race card featured the Group 1 Irish Derby, two other group races, a pair of listed races and two premier handicaps. An attractive package that had an average field size on the day of 10, and the competitive programme saw eight different trainers with winners.
The crowd that did turn up enjoyed the day, and yes I did some random surveying. We saw a good classic winner, and I believe time will show that he is well above average. While we may wish for events to be cheaper, the entrance cost on Saturday was less than the price of a decent seat for a musical theatre performance in Dublin on the same night.
I know this is comparing apples and oranges, but the cost of putting on events is not cheap, and the price to attend is not either. Value for money is what matters, and last weekend’s racing offering was great. Three days in total saw 23 races, 285 actual runners, 16 different trainers successful and some very smart winners.
We need to extol the virtues of our sport, encourage people to attend, and desist from petty negativity. If you are going to be critical, or feel a desire to knock, do so with hard evidence. We need more fans, not fewer, and those who rely on the racing product need to understand their role too in pushing it forward, and not holding it back.