Saturday, 31 October 2009

Why Racing for Change has work to do

Today at Wetherby, leading jockey Barry Geraghty took the wrong course on 9-4 favourite My Petra when leading and was instantly out of the race. His negligent actions cost punters hundreds of thousands of pounds. Nothing against the guy, he is a class act and threw his hands up to admit his guilt, but for the stewards to only give him a 12-day suspension shows just how little respect the industry has for itself and its patrons.

Booed as he returned the paddock, Geraghty said: "I walked the track earlier on and I was well aware of it..."

It wasn't as if he was riding on the track for the first time. It is a jockey's responsibility to know where he is supposed to go. Actions which cause punters to do their dough cold deserve harsh penalties. Remember Roger Loughran on Central House? Similarly the judge Jane Stickels and anyone like her should be either banned from the sport or forced to perform cross-checks every time (like people in most jobs) before declaring results which cost punters and bookies plenty. And lastly, the track staff at Wetherby? What were they doing? How hard is it to set up cones across the track to help jockeys concentrate on what they are supposed to do? It's not rocket science and any other profession have every possible incidence of ambiguity ruled out as a matter of occupational health & safety.

Racing is effectively a medium for investment from individuals. If Geraghty was the CEO of a company who robbed its shareholders blind, he would expect to face criminal charges. That might be a bit harsh in this case but racing is a billion-pound industry and needs to treat itself as one. People invest vast sums in the stock market because it is heavily regulated. Punters invest millions every day on horses, only for amateur decisions to add to the natural randomness of results. Punting is not taken seriously as a profession, this doesn't help their case in trying to change that.

Blunders caused by negligence are avoidable, maybe not every single one but the majority can be prevented. But it will only happen when the industry gets serious about stamping it out, and it applies to everyone in the industry.

Want respect? Do it properly!

2 comments:

  1. Firstly let me say the jockey was wrong and made an error - I personally think the length of the ban is enough. Consider how much that ban is going to cost him for one thing - he is paying a much heavier penalty then many of our MP's currently are.

    However I point the vast majority of the blame at the race track. They should have put in place a 'spur' that would have lead him on the correct course rather than having nothing in place and him following the bend. It would have been a very simple and quick to install measure that could quickly be removed again in time for the next race if needs be.

    The best outcome of this incident is that the course and all other courses learn from it and look at their own tracks and see where they need to make changes to avoid something similar happening again - will they? NO!

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  2. agree with the sentiment but the hope of 'they should learn from it' has been shown over and over that they don't. Racing is full of stubborn people who refuse to change. Until the industry as a whole gets serious about it, I can't see it changing. There needs to be a culture change, particularly if racing wants to become even more reliant on funding from punters.

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