3 Results Found For: July 2016

13th July 2016

I can’t be held responsible for people disagreeing with what I didn’t say.

Nor should I lose any sleep about being ‘drowned out by a cacophony of dissenting voices’ especially if, as the Racing Post says, much of it was on social media. Most of those people, by definition, don’t read or write more than 140 characters.

Hopefully, there are some thinkers in all three industries – racing, betting and media – who might just take a minute to consider what I did actually say about the TV coverage of racing and look at the potential benefits to all of bringing a wider audience to our sport and, above all, educating them about it and cultivating their interest to a point where they might have their own opinions.

That doesn’t simply mean that we should have TV coverage dominated by behind-the-scenes features – although they are clearly popular and do reach out to a wider audience. We must promote a greater understanding of the sport.

Our media coverage screams out that, ‘if you don’t bet, this is not for you’ and, from what I can see, that cacophony of voices that the Racing Post are referring to is saying exactly the same thing. How clever is that?

12th July 2016

Touché Mr. Carr. Yesterday, at the Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival Press Day, I told David Carr that the front page of the Racing Post usually looks like a bookmaker’s advert and today he has managed to persuade them to put me on it under the controversial heading ‘Johnston’s message for ITV: drop all betting talk’. What’s more, apart from a small banner advert for Coral, the front page has no mention of betting at all and headlines draw attention to six interesting articles inside. Have I been doing the Racing Post an injustice? Judged on today’s content, I have.

When you have a press day like that and you are fielding questions from a dozen journalists on topics ranging from Brexit to the price of eggs, it is difficult to cover every topic in detail and the opportunities to be misquoted are numerous. David Carr’s coverage of what I said was, however, very fair although he did, perhaps, put too much emphasis on my plea for the media to give less coverage to betting and nowhere near enough on my assertion that they should concentrate on promoting understanding of, and interest in, the sport. If people have an opinion they are much more likely to bet as is evident from sports like football.

The issue drew comment from the editor, Bruce Millington, and he is of course right to say that ‘betting is far more fundamental to racing’s funding model than it is to other sports’. But I am not for a moment suggesting that people should not be allowed to bet and his suggestion that we should look to showjumping for an indication of how racing might be without betting is a ridiculous one. Far more important to look to greyhound racing for what can happen to a sport that becomes nothing more than a betting medium and is reduced to a game of numbers and colours. Let’s not allow racing to go any further down that path.

6th July 2016

We are mid season and there should be more for me to blether about now than at any other time of the year but I am, quite simply, too busy and/or just not disciplined enough.
It has taken my old friends at York racecourse to move me to write something. If you live in the North of England I think you will be as astounded as I am to hear that they are watering again. It has hardly stopped raining all year and they put 2mm of water on last night.

To my mind – and I am sure they will say that my mind is of no consequence as I am neither a gardener nor a groundsman – 2mm does nothing but damage. What is their aim in constantly trickling water on to the track? It is inconceivable to me that a racetrack should need watering in this wettest of years and I find it hard to understand that the Knavesmire, which still had standing water in the middle at the last meeting, should seem to need water more often than any other track.

I am clearly in a minority, as I don’t hear too many others complaining about it, but being in a minority has never bothered me too much. I’ve learned that it is no indication of whether I am right or wrong.