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Racing for Change - solution one

The image of racing.

Look at racing in the media and what do you get? A lot of old faces with little appeal to the younger generation or non-racing followers.

Case in point - John McCririck. Failed bookmaker, failed punter, know-it-all, sexist bigot and regularly tarnishing the image of the sport with his 'They knew' comments. All that does is add to the negative connotations of the industry from people that barely follow it. That racing is for old people. That racing is corrupt. That racing is an old boys club. How many people have a clue what he is doing when waving his arms about? How many under the age of 45? How many under the age of 30? What other industry would allow one of its frontmen to be so politically incorrect at a time where racing is desperate for a higher profile?

I'm not a fan of Matt Chapman but a lot of people are. He does have an opinion, he does come across well on camera and he is not on the wrong side of 50.

Hayley Turner looked good on camera during her time out of the saddle, perhaps there is another woman out there capable of fronting the coverage, rather than just looking at hats and frocks.

Racing needs a positive image and good role models out there. Luke Harvey mentioned the abruptness of Mick Kinane recently in refusing an interview after a race. Make it like football and other big sports - give media training to all jockeys and trainers, and require them to give interviews at certain times, punishable with a fine. It is in their best interest to grow the sport - the more people that follow it, the more money ends up in the prize fund. Focus on the positives, the rest of the media will make it their business to find the negatives. Talk up Barney Curley's charitable efforts in Africa (I know there are several others, I just can't think of any more off the top of my head), the emergence of new stars, what has happened to some retired horses - showjumping, working for the police force etc to show they don't all go to the glue factory.

Emphasise quality over quantity. Not every horse ever bred deserves a race to run in. If they are too darn slow, they do not belong on a race track. Too much of a good thing puts everyone off. One day off occasionally is not necessarily a bad thing, or just rotate the balance - flat (all-weather) racing during the winter should be limited, just as National Hunt racing during the summer should slow down. It does not help the grand scheme of things when horses running out of season are bottom-class. Thin it out, punters only have so much money to spend.

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