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The Start of the Flat – a Saturday?

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  • #10716
    Maxilon 5
    Member
    • Total Posts 2432

    After reading the thread in Big Race Discussions about the Brocklesby, I popped on to the Sporting Life to take a look for myself.

    Always enjoyed that race. I like to see where they end up over time. (Remember The Lord?). Imagine my consternation when I couldn’t find the race.

    In fact I couldn’t find Doncaster at all!

    This was strange. Where was it? Then a eureka moment. I realised that I was looking at Thursday’s card and had temporarily forgotten that those wise men at the BHA have decreed that the flat season wil start on a Saturday. OMG, as they say on Messenger. Lets shift everything to a Saturday!

    Let’s even shift WEEKDAYS to a Saturday, shall we?

    Privileged gin swiggers. Take another wobbly circuit round the matchoxes in the Upper Class Twit of the Year competition. With your Blackberries.

    Well I’m going to football. So are X million other fellows. Then there is rugby, the driving range, badminton, IKEA, Meadowhall, Bluewater, all dayers in the Dog and Duck, the bookies, the car to wash, the lawn to mow, the kitchen to paint, the tiddlywink championships in Mablethorpe to attend, or a rampant afternoon with that naughty piece you’ve been chatting up for weeks whose husband is off to watch the Ice Hockey, or maybe even a chlll out on the leather sofa with the missus to watch Jeff Stelling and that moron Phil Thompson compare loud grunting noises. Eighty odd footie matches – not much competition there is there?

    Nothing much going down on Thurday, is there? Except the opportunity to sneak away from work and enjoy life.

    When are the BHA going to realise that for two, three million people, two Thursdays after Cheltenham is Brocklesby day?

    A unique opportunity to start the flat season. No competition, no distractions. They’re off! Proper racing is back. The flat season. Every single paper used to run a feature. Those massive RP cards with dashes after the numbers. The first Postdata. Henry Rix with a twenty-to-one nap. The centrepiece of the day, a nice, funky, unique little race which goes back to Georgian times. I’ll bet Atty Perse had one set up for it every year and filled his top hat with shiny guineas and golden doubloons. Same as Bill Turner (except with pound coins).

    Then there’s that 3-yo maiden which Forest Tiger once won sending McCirick into orbit and the bookies running for cover. And that handicap which Daring Times won at 7/1 after the feared Ramsden yard got stuck in at double carpet in the days when the morning market was fun and by far the best guide. Boy, did the whingeing bookies cry after that. They were genuinely hurting and I loved it. Then there’s that ladies handicap which Mick Easterby won every year. Wages for the rope-belted Yorkshire comic. Wages.

    The Doncaster Mile on the Friday. The Spring Mile. The Sceptre stakes (I think). A leisurely introduction to the flat on windswept Town Moor. A day off work and time to think. Wouldn’t miss it and never missed it.

    The one advantage horse racing has over other sports is the fusion of tradition and lifestyle within an indelible pattern, existing in a rythym all of its own. If it’s the last week in July, it’s Goodwood. You didn’t need a calendar to plot the flat season – you just needed a bit of experience and plenty of annual leave.

    The BHA will ruin everything eventually with their gruesome tinkering. Queen Anne must be bursting her bodice. Charles II must be shaking his head. Somewhere up there on the Heath in the Sky.

    It’s not the bookmakers who will kill horse racing. Sorry to disappoint you all. They’ve had forty four years to do it and while they’ve hurt us, we’re still the sixth biggest industry in the country and the third biggest spectator sport.

    Its the BHA. They’ll kill racing eventually. By not valuing the traditions and the patterns. There is only one race that matters this Saturday coming and it isn’t the Brocklesby. That’s Thursday’s highlight.

    The winter takes two more days longer to finish now and the Brocklesby (like the Beeswing, the Virginia Water, the Predominate), has become just another gambling opportunity, a forgotten footnote in history.

    Thanks for that, BHA.

    #218238
    davidbrady
    Member
    • Total Posts 3901

    I want MORE big races on Saturdays so that I can get to watch them and not have to use up my annual leave to do so.

    In fact I think I’ll start a facebook campaign to have Oaks day moved to the Sunday!

    Are you with me Max.

    #218242
    Drone
    Participant
    • Total Posts 5141

    Although empathising on a personal level with your sadness at the loss of a race for unraced 2yos on a quiet windblown Thursday in late March being the esoteric herald of the Flat – an esoterism that could only possibly have been dreamt up by the 18th century leisured sporting gentleman for his private entertainment – I’ve actually long been an advocate of a weekend-only Lincoln meeting…but as part of a week-long ‘happy new year’ festival comprising Lincoln, Craven and Greenham meets, beginning the Saturday after the National.

    Marketing is all :( and it’s worth remembering that removal of the Friday negates the similarly esoteric ‘Good Friday problem’

    The Flash Harrys and Wilfrid Hyde Whites alighting from the 10.00 ex-King’s Cross and congregating on Town Moor armed with a notebook of winter whispers is not part of this brave monochromatic new world we find ourselves lumbered with Max

    The Sceptre Stakes is run at the Leger meeting btw :)

    #218249
    ricky lake
    Participant
    • Total Posts 2358

    Max is on the money , its not a question of taking holidays to see good racing , we have all been there , its the crucial element of our minority sport competing for the leisure spend / time / even passing interest versus football and a million other distractions that folks get involved with on saturdays

    If we want to widen the net we need to make it more exclusive , and if that harps back to days of yore and the chinless wonder brigade then so be it , at least it will make racing distinctive again , not just a small pawn in a bloody big chess game

    lets look at the big picture , the BHA cant and wont , they are too much engrossed in playing levy /power chess with the trilaterals and at the same time losing more potential customers and afficionados than they will ever know or care about

    #218251
    Glenn
    Participant
    • Total Posts 1981

    lets look at the big picture , the BHA cant

    Many a truth revealed with a missed apostrophe Ricky :wink:

    The BHA will ruin everything eventually with their gruesome tinkering.

    We’re all with you Max.

    I see bookmakers’ spokesman Paul Struthers was arguing with the other bookmakers’ spokesmen

    again

    yesterday about proposing to have four blank Sundays next year. Wonder how that charade will turn out?

    #218252
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    • Total Posts 17718

    Marketing is all :( and it’s worth remembering that removal of the Friday negates the similarly esoteric ‘Good Friday problem’

    What sort of "marketing" is it that sticks on the Lincoln, the Rosebery, the Spring Mile, Queen’s Prize and the Magnolia Stakes – never mind the poor old Brocklesby – within a few minutes of each other? And that’s without adding the Group 1’s et. al. over in Dubai!

    No time to think, no time to build tension, no time – crucially, given that this is why we’re supposedly subjected to this sort of constipated clotted cream – to bet.

    Self-defeating, sad – and very, very stupid.

    But then, I never met a marketing department which wasn’t the company joke. Those who can, do: those who can’t, do marketing.

    #218256
    seabird
    Participant
    • Total Posts 2924

    Another excellent post, Max.

    Colin

    #218260
    Cav
    Participant
    • Total Posts 4812

    What sort of "marketing" is it that sticks on the Lincoln, the Rosebery, the Spring Mile, Queen’s Prize and the Magnolia Stakes – never mind the poor old Brocklesby – within a few minutes of each other? And that’s without adding the Group 1’s et. al. over in Dubai!

    Beyond belief that they couldnt have spread this over 2 days. Including the Guineas trials at Leopardstown the sport could have had excellent exposure Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

    #218262
    Colin Little
    Member
    • Total Posts 338

    I’m very much in agreement with Pinza & Cav on this one. There’s three very different types of flat meeting on Saturday, but they are all top class in their own special way, & probably deserve far more coverage than they are going to get.

    The AW meeting at Kempton on Saturday, with it’s variety, is imo the best AW race day of the season. (although the Lingfield WInter Derby meeting was very good). This meeting will probably end up with the least coverage, which for an AW fan is a shame. Although I suppose it could be turned into a positive if punters & the media are focusing their efforts elsewhere.

    I see that Doncaster are racing on Saturday and Sunday, although the Sunday card is not that great. Given time, I could see that working very well, but they will need to build up the quality of the cards. The Sunday could prove to be very popular,

    #218265
    guskennedy
    Member
    • Total Posts 759

    I realised that I was looking at Thursday’s card and had temporarily forgotten that those wise men at the BHA have decreed that the flat season wil start on a Saturday…..Every single paper used to run a feature…..Then there’s that 3-yo maiden which Forest Tiger once won sending McCirick into orbit and the bookies running for cover….. The Sceptre stakes (I think)

    I’m not sure how much say the BHA has in this. Their control of the fixture list was severely weakened by an OFT ruling some time ago now.

    A number of papers – not all – did indeed at one time run a feature but in recent times it amounted to nothing more than a "they’re off!" headline with the usual copy thereafter.

    The maiden won by Forest Tiger was run on the Saturday.

    The Sceptre is run at the Leger meeting.

    I love the start of the Flat and always enjoyed the three-day Lincoln Meeting but for everyone who liked it there were several others who annually complained about the "damp squib" start it provided. The Saturday card this year looks pretty good but, as Colin says, the Sunday card doesn’t look as good but with a bit of tweaking a two-day Saturday/ Sunday start to the Flat might be a success in the long term.

    #218266
    guskennedy
    Member
    • Total Posts 759

    Apologies to Drone who had already pointed out the Sceptre stakes error.

    #218268
    davidbrady
    Member
    • Total Posts 3901

    How do people propose racing wins the competition for the leisure pound by kicking the season off on a Thursday (or any other day for that matter)

    There are no Premiership fixtures this Saturday either

    #218269
    Cav
    Participant
    • Total Posts 4812

    Why couldnt they have ran the excellent Kempton card under the lights on Friday night? Would have been a big draw for Londoners starting their weekend and leisure punters like these Friday evening all weather cards. That would have left a really good card at Doncaster to get the full coverage it deserves on Saturday.

    #218270
    Drone
    Participant
    • Total Posts 5141

    Didn’t realise Kempton are racing on Saturday

    The breaking-up of their Easter meeting is daft, and the decision to run half of it in opposition to Doncaster dafter still.

    Pray tell me race planners, what is wrong with running this traditional two-dayer on Easter Saturday and Bank Holiday Monday as was the case since time immemorial?

    You’re right Pinza: marketing may be all, but it’s commonly regressive

    #218274
    Maxilon 5
    Member
    • Total Posts 2432

    Drone, Gus, if either of you fancy a job as an editor, I can be found on a soapbox near you. :D My memory is clearly not what it was. Apologies.

    Every now and again I get really annoyed about something. The BBC, the Tragedy of the Commons, but the factor which gets me most hot under the collar is the tinkering with the Pattern. Not the Stud Pattern, but the pattern of the summer.

    It’s a treasure, a national treasure where each race can be viewed in context within a wider season and in relation to another race down the line. It’s beautifully interconnected, an eco-system where each meeting feeds into another, incorporating age old cultural traditions, enduring social systems, the changing of the seasons and the passage of time. It’s not just sport – the flat is life itself. A wonderful evolved narrative, a story that young people, new racegoers and anyone with a brain can follow, engage with.

    I mean, we all engaged, didn’t we?

    I’m not going to attempt it (as I’m still embarrassed about last night’s factual errors), but I used to be able to list, in order, all the significant flat meetings from April to October. And I don’t know a quarter of that which some members on TRF know about horse racing. I’ll bet most of you contributing to this thread can do this too, with 90% accuracy. It’s like cultural memory or motor memory, like riding a bike or driving a car. Once it’s embedded, you never forget it. The summer pattern is one of he first things a fledgling punter learns – and the race names.

    (The Beeswing. 7f. Group 3. Newcastle. The Monday after Glorious Goodwood)

    Who on earth would want to change that? Who would want to? And Gus, if the BHA have nothing to do with aggregating meetings from three days to one (Doncaster, Champions Day), then I’m a monkeys uncle. If they genuinely don’t, then what is exactly the point of the BHA?

    The circus travels from town to town, one big travelling circus. What greater marketing can there be when people don’t even need to refer to a calendar to know when the circus is coming to town!

    (DB, any opportunity to twag work and I’m off. That’s the thinly veiled hidden agenda. :D :D )

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