Leicester walkover ‘success’ for Horsemen another self-inflicted blow for racing’s image

No such thing as bad publicity?  Not in my book.

From the Press Association:

The Bet totepool At totesport.com Handicap at Leicester on Saturday will be a walkover after just one horse was declared in protest over the race tariff.

According to the tariff set by the Horsemen’s Group, the Class Three contest should hold a total prize-money fund of £13,000, but this race is worth just £6,000.

Having attracted three entries at the six-day stage, just Saint Helena will line up, but trainer Harry Dunlop insists he is not condoning the level of prize-money on offer.

“We all have our views regarding the tariffs and I very much support them,” said Dunlop.

“I discussed it with some of the other trainers and we thought the best way to do it would be to run one horse so Leicester would have to put up some prize-money.

“It’s a very difficult situation as there are actually five races on the card that are under tariff, but there were just three entries in our race and that changed the situation.

“My owners were very keen to run and they are very important, so that’s why we’re running.

“Obviously it doesn’t look very good for Leicester that they’ve got one runner in a race and I’m afraid prize-money needs to come up.

“I’ve never seen a walkover in Flat racing before and I think Leicester need to wake up and smell the coffee.

“They can see there is just one runner there and they will not want it to happen again in the future.”

Saint Helena will pick up the full prize-money fund if not declared a non-runner.

Leicester’s clerk of the course Jimmy Stevenson was left saddened by the situation.

“It’s disappointing, but it was sort of inevitable after we got the entries,” said Stevenson.

“The horse just have to go down to the furlong marker and come back in front of the judge.

“It’a unfortunate, but there’s not a lot we can do.”

The last walkover to take place under Rules in Britain was over jumps at Exeter in 2007, when Ballyfoy claimed victory after the two other runners were declared non-runners.

Many seem to count this Leicester walkover as a ‘success’ for the Horsemen. (The irony of the boycott affecting a sponsor who is racing’s biggest contributor by far seems to have escaped them)

It’s not a success for racing’s image, that’s for sure. It’s not even a walkover caused by men standing by their principles.  It’s a walkover by conspiracy “So that Leicester would have to put up some prize money” I think you’ll find that the non-racing media will see it as a kidnapping story where the ransom was paid but the hostage wasn’t returned by the ‘fat cats who can afford to own racehorses’

Graham Cunningham told me it was ‘an industrial dispute’ in his eyes. Industrial disputes, in the eyes of the public, are the preserve of low-paid workers and black-faced miners with hungry kids.

I’m not saying prize money should or shouldn’t be increased, but we should all look after racing’s image, as the fallout from the Grand National showed.

Horsemen (could they have come up with a more anachronistic name?) crowing ‘success!’ about a walkover which deprives Leicester racegoers of value, the industry of Levy, and racing of respect, is shameful and embarrassing and another incision in racing’s death by a thousand self-inflicted cuts.

Response from the Tote

“The Tote has maintained its sponsorship contribution at all racecourses this year, so it is obviously disappointing to see a walkover in one of our races,” said Jason Brautigam, totepool Managing Director.

“It is not in anyone’s interest to have a race on the highest profile day of the week that will not generate any betting turnover. While we appreciate the Horsemen’’s position, we also understand the commercial pressures that racing is under and remain fully supportive of our racecourse partners. We hope that these issues can be resolved amicably sooner rather than later for the benefit of all.”

Joe McNally

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