November 19, 2010 at 15:01 #16803
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Following on from a fantastic contribution from our last Q&A guest Simon Holt, we have the [b:3h1yos2h]Racing Post’s top Northern correspondent, David Carr[/b:3h1yos2h].
Producer of one of the best racing blogs on the net (http://tinyurl.com/24qwx4p), David has been with the Racing Post since 2002 after working for Timeform for 5 years, Rapid Raceline for 2 years and the Press Association for 9. He also has the distinction of being the only racing reporter in active service (..but probably ever) of graduating from TV show Blockbusters.
David has expressed great interest in answering all of your questions so feel free to fire away…November 24, 2010 at 23:22 #329723
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I’m a Southwell regular and a conscientious reader of your blog – which I enjoy, in an expanded, soapy, Peyton Place stylee. One or two questions coming up.
a) Do you like Southwell? I always think you look well p***ed off when I see you by the paddock; as if you’d rather be anywhere else. I’ve read many of your pieces and your Southwell dispatches lack the passion you so obviously feel for eclectic outposts like Hexham and Sedgefield.
b) Slightly related. Do you prefer NH or Flat?
c) Which of the above disciplines has the greater potential for literary intervention?
d) How did you get into horse racing in the years before Sleepy Hollow?
I got into racing as a punter after being inspired by the Irish tipster Colin Turner on LBC radio in the late 1970s/early 1980s. His wild enthusiasm for the sport was infectious and encouraged me to see how his tips got on, watching them on television or seeking out the results in the paper. I started reading the rest of the racing pages, one thing followed another and soon I was hooked – I went racing for the first time at Fontwell in 1982.
As for working in racing, I answered a Sporting Life advert for a job at Timeform back in 1986 and spent five years in Halifax before moving to Rapid Raceline, the Press Association and then the Racing Post.
e) Are you planning a book? Your fellow blogger Steve Palmer is apparently scribbling away on a sports betting tome which would interest, er, sports bettors, but what about racing, something elevated to a higher plane. I’d buy a copy, sah – and boy, does racing need some more books.
MaxNovember 25, 2010 at 22:27 #329916
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Thanks for this David.
Firstly – did you pick a ‘P’ on Blockbusters?
What first sparked your interest in racing?
Finally, if there was one thing you could change about racing, above all else, what one thing would you change?
I think your second query was covered in my answer to the first question – I got into racing as a punter after being inspired by the Irish tipster Colin Turner on LBC radio in the late 1970s/early 1980s. His wild enthusiasm for the sport was infectious and encouraged me to see how his tips got on, watching them on television or seeking out the results in the paper. I started reading the rest of the racing pages, one thing followed another and soon I was hooked – I went racing for the first time at Fontwell in 1982.
There are many things that I’d love to change. Making racing a high-profile sport that stops the nation every week rather than just on Grand National day; dispersing the ownership of the best horses so that they run against each other more, making the top races more competitive and meaning somebody new might win the Derby or the Arc; getting everyone employed in racing to realise that they work in a branch of the entertainment industry and that engaging with the public is part of the job – if we turn people off so that nobody is interested in us then pretty soon we won’t have a job.
But those are probably pipe dreams. More realistically, I’d like to see more two and three-day meetings – even at the lowest level of racing. This is not just special pleading – though it is easier to drive to Fakenham, say, for two day’s racing then drive back, rather than making the return journey twice. But it does help everybody logistically, it can allow a track to make a feature of the lowliest cards and will quickly get a town involved in promoting its track if it realises people will be staying overnight and spending money.November 29, 2010 at 08:26 #330370
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Trainers and Jockeys seem to get the kid gloves treatment from the Racing press, can you foresee a time when this won’t be the case?
Racing personalities have a different relationship with the press largely because of the betting aspect. There are still trainers who are reluctant to speak openly about their horses as they want to keep information to themselves and their owners for betting purposes.
More significantly, the betting angle colours perceptions. If a footballer skies a penalty over the bar or a politician makes a mess of something, they are considered incompetent fools. Whereas if a jockey fouls up it is more of a moral issue and there will be people questioning their honesty, which makes things much more fraught and makes riders in particular very wary of criticism (The AP McCoy/Lydia Hislop ‘spat’ would have been much less likely to occur in football as a commentator would have been most unlikely to make a comment which even hinted at doubts over a player’s honesty).
When an apparent ‘non-trier’ rears its head, the libel law kicks in to make everything tricky – newspapers pay large sums to lawyers to ensure that they don’t have to pay huge sums to those ‘damaged’ by their publications and they will always err on the side of caution.
And conventional wisdom seems to be that the way to cover the sport is to keep everyone happy so that they will give you quotes when you want them, making for a generally easier life.
I think that in general the overall trend for all of the above is heading in the right direction but it is an inordinately slow process.November 29, 2010 at 18:09 #330420
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Thanks for subjecting yourself to trial by TRF! From memory I think we actually worked together on a meeting at Haydock about 18 months ago (I was doing the post-race stuff for Raceform from home that day) on an evening that One Way Or Another went in – did you ever manage to get a pint out of Prufrock later on as you said you’d hoped?
Bit of a horrible, loaded question, this. The apparent failure of certain details emanating from races to be disseminated to the public quicker than they are (if at all) is a regular bone of contention on this forum – and by which I’m thinking of anything from Instruction H14s ("Reports on Performances by Trainers") to confirmation of equine injuries / fatalities. What barriers do you tend to encounter in being able to get hold of such information? Are they surmountable? Are there any courses that are more unhelpful in furnishing you with the details you’d like than others?
Many thanks in advance,
Yes I remember working together at Haydock – and I would not have dreamed have getting a pint out of Prufrock while I was working! (I also have an extremely strong suspicion that if I sat down and tallied the accounts from every time we have been out for a drink in the past 25 years I would probably be ahead of the game).
The H14s are really interesting as they are information provided after each race that would mean an awful lot to those who backed the horse and should really be made public as soon as possible. Ideally,once they have been collected by stewards secretaries they should be read over the public address and posted on notice boards as the results of stewards inquiries are.
Some tracks do endeavour to keep punters up to date with them and I will always post them on ‘Live Reporter’ as soon as I get them. I can honestly say that stewards secretaries are always helpful in providing information but they need to get them confirmed (if, say, a jockey reports that a horse was unsuited by the ground, the trainer’s representative needs to be consulted before it is made official) and they have an awful lot of things to do, as do I, and we can generally only catch up with each other two or three times through the afternoon. A formal, quick procedure would be ideal but is unlikely to be introduced in these days of cuts to integrity spending.
Information on equine injuries/fatalities comes either from connections – who can be understandably difficult to track down when their horse is at death’s door – or from clerks of the course, who are usually helpful and will not withhold information even if it is bad news.
The patron saint of lower-grade fare. A gently critical friend of point-to-pointing. Kindness is a political act.November 30, 2010 at 07:54 #330484
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I dont know if you wrote the Racing Post analysis on the Casela Park race back at Newcastle in August. It contained words such "appeared a horribly tricky ride", "hung all over the place when put under little pressure", "head carriage was most awkward", "gone very close to winning had he been able to keep a true line".
Analysis of any sporting performance is an opinion no more no less, the Racing Post’s opinion seemingly avoided an objective analysis of Casela Park’s performance at all costs. You defended the analysis (whether your’s or a colleague) on your blog by stating the words used "painted a true picture" and "sums things up nicely" using libel laws as a justification for the analysis paralysis.
Timeform in their Perspective entry shortly after the race stated…
"CASELA PARK (IRE) drew unfavourable attention like few other horses have for many a year (trainer and jockey referred to the BHA for further investigation), his running needing to be seen to be believed, no explaining the ride other than in improper terms, Casela Park clearly unable to give all he could, the fact that he was set so much to do largely an irrelevance compared to what went on in the last 2f while he made side-to-side headway with the jockey never taking his hands off the reins to go for the whip;"
Has anyone from Timform been contacted by the courts? Aside from the petulant ranting of a few jockeys and trainers, isn’t the sport better served by the likes of in this instance Timeform, or when necessary the objective opinions and questions of Steve Mellish, Lydia Hislop and Jonathan Neesom rather than by yourself stating, "My own private opinions remained just that. M’lud."
Dont you think the sport would be better served without the candy floss, cowardly "journalism" of the Racing Post in this instance, David.
Thanks for taking the time,
I should just say that in my blog I actually wrote about the close-up on Casela Park, which was written by Richard Young who was sitting next to me in the Newcastle press room, not the analysis which I had not read at the time.
The Timeform perspective was an excellent example of what you can print in such circumstances but I know full well from my own experience at Timeform that the writer would have been well aware of exactly how far they could go (rather than saying the horse was stopped they just said there was ‘no explaining the ride other than in improper terms,’ which is not quite the same thing) – and their piece would have been very carefully checked before publication.
Editorial preferences have to come second to legal considerations in this area. I was obviously 300 miles away from the office on the day in question and was not privy to discussions over what the paper felt it could print and what it couldn’t.
Many years ago, Mark Coton came up with an idea which would put an end to this whole sorry mess at a stroke. He suggested scrapping all the ‘non-trier’ rules, so that horses need not be run on their merits, but also scrapping trainers’ and jockeys’ rights to sue for libel, so that we could write exactly what we saw. There are a thousand reasons why it wouldn’t work and it would turn outsiders right off – but it might be fun to try for a day!December 1, 2010 at 13:58 #330691
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Cheers for these guys.
Anymore for anymore before I forward them to David?January 6, 2011 at 12:22 #334878
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Thanks for those responses David – great stuff, much appreciated
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