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Tony Smurthwaite Answers your Questions

Home Forums Archive Topics Celebrity Q&A’s Tony Smurthwaite Answers your Questions

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    — Posted by Gearoid VI on 1:51 am on Mar. 15, 2001

    What is it that attracted you to , that enabled it to<br>be  published in the Racing Post ?

    A: We covered the demise of the Channel 4 chatroom in some detail because<br>of the unusual and unnecessary circumstances of its closure. We were on the<br>lookout for new outlets for racing gossip and were alerted to<br>theracingforum.

    <br>— Posted by dario on 2:20 am on Mar. 15, 2001

    Is the racing post website going to start charging for the service in the<br>near future?

    Do you think that 1on1 betting on the internet will take  off big-time and<br>become a firmly established alternative to conventional  bookmakers or do<br>you think it will just be a fad?

    A: I don’t know about the Post site but in general the trend will be more<br>and more towards charging, once sites are happy that they have built up a<br>loyal customer base who appreciate the information they can pick up from a<br>site.<br>Flutter say they are close their millionth bet and betfair have talked of<br>matched bets of £1m a week so its fair to say one-to-one betting is here to<br>stay. One of the issues is whether the successful one-to-one sites will<br>become targets for the giant offline bookmakers, principally Ladbroke and<br>William Hill. There has been speculation, if nothing more so far, of<br>betfair in talks with a potential purchaser. In some ways the internet was<br>made for one-to-one bets. Taking out the agent and allowing buyer and<br>seller to get to grips with one another is bound to be popular in any<br>sector as long as the proper safeguards are in place, and as more punters<br>learn how to make a book rather than simply be backers then the popularity<br>will probably increase further.<br>One dark cloud is the imposition of gross profits tax on one-to-one sites.<br>Add this to the need to charge commission rates and they will have to watch<br>out they don’t become uncompetitive alongside traditional bookmakers who<br>will shortly be laying tax free.

    <br>— Posted by Scoot on 8:10 am on Mar. 15, 2001

    What do you think of Goddolphin stables in general, and do you think that<br>this will be the year they win the Kentucky Derby with Street Cry?

    A: I can hardly roll out the line, ‘When I was talking to Sheikh<br>Mohammed….’, but I did take a [package] holiday in Dubai in February and<br>was lucky enough to have a flying tour of Al Quoz. The regard in which<br>Street Cry was held then was palpable and I think they probably still think<br>of him as their best ever contender, even after he was beaten on World Cup<br>day. Simon Crisford’s comment that day at Al Quoz that ‘this is the one’,<br>stuck in the memory. I haven’t backed it, but it has a fair chance.<br>In general, I reserve much admiration for Godolphin, though on a<br>professional rather than a personal footing. Of course they have cherry<br>picked their horses, but then trained them on to a degree that leaves no<br>room for doubt that Godolphin as a team has a high level of skill in<br>training, preparation and placement.<br>I do think they could all smile a bit more at the races, and why not bring<br>their wives along? Also, renaming the historic Stanley House Stables as<br>Godolphin Stables gets my goat.

    <br>— Posted by SIR TRISTRAM on 2:32 am on Mar. 16, 2001

    Paper tipsters? Are they really trying to compete in the naps table? Its<br>their full time job yet most seasons 2/3’s of them are in the red to a £1<br>stake.  Or do they just take turns at the head of the race like a bunch of<br>5f.  handicappers on the all weather!

    A: Try it, its not easy to select a winner a day from a single selection.<br>Give yourself two weeks as a ghost addition to the naps table and see how<br>you fare. As to the all-weather sprinter analogy, I’d say the cream<br>generally rises.

    <br>— Posted by duncanlynch on 1:17 pm on Mar. 16, 2001

    Why doesn`t the Racing Post use the old Sporting Life trainer-course<br>tables,i.e. dividing handicap from non-handicap wins?I`ve e-mailed the RP<br>on  this subject several times,but with no response.


    — Posted by Attila on 1:31 pm on Mar. 16, 2001

    Which racing web sites do you visit on a daily basis?

    A: To check on overseas news lines I look at and<br> in the States and and<br> in Australia. I like as well. I<br>used to regularly check some of the newer content sites such as<br>thehorsesmouth, racing-network, racetips365 and (at one time) kickon but a<br>lot of their news is not self-generated.<br>I keep a lookout on for market movers and surf around others<br>bookmakers for early prices. I find the odds comparison sites of limited<br>use as not too many bookmakers offer early prices on all races. I also like<br>to catch a flavour of the gossip in chat rooms at and<br>theracingforum.<br>I keep off tipping sites like the plague.

    <br>— Posted by Ted on 1:42 pm on Mar. 16, 2001

    What do you think of the bookies persisting in showing us garbage racing<br>from  all around the globe even when we have 2 British meetings on?

    A: For some reason the bookmakers believe that punters like to punt on<br>horseracing every ten minutes. With two meetings its every 30 minutes so<br>obviously they can’t stick it and rollout another one or two meetings,<br>usually from a corner of a foreign field that is never England. Some of the<br>racing from South Africa has been laughable. One day the track looked like<br>Laytown in a sandstorm with horses plucked direct from Swindon horse sale.<br>Why people punt it is a mystery.

    <br>— Posted by pengamon on 3:47 pm on Mar. 16, 2001

    Tony you were always a great supporter of the National Association for the<br>Protection of Punters before it folded.

    Is there a pressing need for a  funded body to protect the interests of<br>punters and do you think gambling debts  – whether they be owed to or by<br>bookmakers-should be recoverable in law?

    A: NAPP had many critics and even as a former council member I’d say they<br>were not far off the mark. It had no cash and no support and regardless of<br>the calibre of the people running it deserved a better fate than ridicule.<br>A lot of the ideas abroad at that time are coming home to roost now. All<br>the major industry bodies who submitted papers to the government’s Gambling<br>Review Group always felt they soared over NAPP intellectually but to read<br>their ideas it is clear that either they shared them at the time and did<br>nothing about them or have now simply copied them for a modern,<br>punter-friendly agenda when required.<br>I see the same moral superiority surrounding the funding of IBAS, whose<br>request for £29,000 in funding from the Levy Board was rejected in the<br>first instance at the time the Board was considering whether to give a<br>£7.75m loan to York for a member’s grandstand. The Levy Board should be<br>ashamed.<br>I do still believe there is a need for a body to speak for punters. The<br>laughable idea that the Racegoers Club represents punters’ interests in the<br>Industry Committee is a constant source of amusement.<br>On the whole, I would say gambling debts should be recoverable at law. It<br>very few cases anyway would a case probably ever make it to court, but the<br>structure would be a sound buttress for punters against bookmakers who<br>decline to pay or simply abscond. The collapse of firststake offers<br>reminders of how far down the food chain are unsecured creditors such as<br>punters.

    <br>— Posted by Katy on 11:04 pm on Mar. 16, 2001

    Ok just a few questions! *lol*

    What makes a good racing website?

    A: Up to date news, strong but simple presentation, easy and clear routes<br>to information, unimpeachable, independent-minded columnists, strong stats,<br>a lack of spelling mistakes and factual errors.

    What is your favourite website?

    A: Six verses of ‘The<br>Lambtown Worm’, what could be better.

    What are the best/worst things about being a racing journolist?

    A: The best would be the proximity to a sport I love, hearing the inside<br>track, digging out the other sides to stories, unearthing the foibles and<br>talents of famous men and horses, exposing the contradictions of those who<br>play at leading the sport, and finding that a hunch based on the evidence<br>of our own sources exposes the party line of those hiding the true story.<br>Stable whispers are regular as well.<br>The worst would be irritation at people’s refusal to speak their views, the<br>conceit of some of those in positions of responsibility, bad weather,<br>ante-post bets based on stable whispers, summer Sunday racing.

    Who is/was your favourite racehorse?

    A: My first hero was Robellino, second was Nashwan, then Desert Orchid,<br>whose Gold Cup win (almost) had me in tears, and most recent One Man. Nayef<br>will be the next based on what I could see last season.

    Who is the most interesting person you have interviewed?

    A: Bruce Forsyth. He suffered a day at Redcar races for charity in the<br>early days of Sunday racing and gave me five minutes to take down an<br>endless stream of anecdotes and prehistoric one-liners. I’m sure he knew<br>very little about horseracing, but was he fun.

    Thanks Katy

    <br>— Posted by ALI on 11:38 pm on Mar. 16, 2001

    Do you own any racehorses or have you owned any in the past. If yes, have<br>you  had any sucsess.

    A: I’ve not owned a racehorse but once, with some mates, bred a Contract<br>Law foal to sell as a yearling. It was a filly, which was a bad enough<br>start, but also as small as a fig leaf and she refused to grow. The lasting<br>impression of the episode is of one thing, vet’s bills.

    <br>— Posted by Daylight on 7:47 pm on Mar. 17, 2001

    How did you arrive in to racing jornalism?

    A: I grew to like horseracing through going to the races with my uncle<br>around the tracks in the north east from the age of 15. He is an annual<br>member at Newcastle, Hexham, Catterick and a regular at Sedgefield. I<br>started in journalism as a freelance in London, answering an ad in The<br>Sporting Life and spent six years with a freelance agency, Racenews, before<br>finding a job with the Life about a year before it ‘merged’ with the Racing<br>Post.

    What is an average working  day for you?

    A: I start a 9.30-10am, reading the national papers, the racing pages and<br>scanning the business pages, as well as reading the news agency wires for<br>overnight news. I might look at some of the overseas racing websites for<br>news and then draw up a news list for the day based on speaking to<br>reporters and collating tip-offs, ideas, hunches, diary events, breaking<br>stories, big race features previews, and anything else that might make a<br>story.<br>The Racing Post editorial team (news, sub-editors and picture desk) will<br>hold a morning conference with the editor at about 11.30 then the reporting<br>team will set about seeking out and compiling news stories for the day.<br>>From then on the day runs very quickly, racing starts and the phone calls<br>become incessant. Stories crop up, other ideas die, and the news list takes<br>shape. An afternoon news conference at about 3.30pm will try to refine the<br>final news list, page by page for the following day’s paper. As stories<br>arrive the news editor will check content and tone before sending it to be<br>subbed and prepared for the page. With as many as 10 reporters filing<br>stories and as many sub-editors waiting to sub them, the vital issue for<br>the news editor, who has to check and be happy with each one as it arrives,<br>from creating a bottleneck. ‘Copy flow’ is the cry you hear every day.<br>Final copy deadlines, always missed, loom at around 6pm. Thereafter the<br>final stories will be chased up and sent for subbing. By 7pm everything<br>should be done. The next day’s news list will be drafted as much as is<br>possible and by then, thankfully, the pressure will be off and the phones<br>will have stopped ringing. By 7.30pm its about time to slink off.

    <br>— Posted by paul101 on 8:03 pm on Mar. 17, 2001

    Hi Tony, do you think the majority of racing people would be in favour of<br>an  Allweather track for the north of England.

    A: The majority of trainers in the north may be in favour. Most all-weather<br>racing is poor fare and a track in the north, catering for Flat horses in<br>the north and Scotland, would only continue the trend. If it was created to<br>cater for the horse population, as is suggested, perhaps its time for a<br>cull.

    <br>— Posted by Jay Torbitt on 1:13 pm on Mar. 18, 2001

    What do you think to recent plans put in to construct a racecourse in<br>Manchester? Would it be a success?

    A: I like the idea of a Manchester racecourse having read about the one<br>that used to exist. I doubt it would be outside Manchester anyway, but it’s<br>not a bad idea.

    <br>— Posted by Nev on 8:39 pm on Mar. 18, 2001

    Tony,<br>Now we finally have 0% betting tax deductions do you think our  bookmaking<br>industry and consequently our horse racing industry will be major  players<br>globally, if they are marketed correctly.

    A: They are already global players. However much people might sneer at or<br>be cynical of the integrity of British racing, its strong reputation for<br>being beyond reproach is a priceless asset. The bookmakers are great at<br>marketing, racing less so. I’ll be fascinated to see what the £10m budget<br>set aside by the Levy Board for marketing racing leads to in policy. Taking<br>away the problems of time differences there is a potential market for<br>betting on British racing, just as there is for betting with British<br>bookmakers on football, that makes current levels look tiny.

    <br>— Posted by griff11 on 9:02 pm on Mar. 18, 2001

    Do you think that overall, racing would benefit from a Tote off-course,<br>Tote/Boards betting system on-course.


    A: Sorry, no way. Racing might benefit financially, from raking off a fat<br>percentage of profits from a Tote in which it will soon have a vested<br>interest. Away from finance the idea is a non-starter. The element of<br>choice is fundamental to the demands of punters; not knowing what price you<br>might get when you back a horse if completely alien to many and would be an<br>automatic turn off, especially in the betting shops and with<br>telephone/internet punters.<br>The way the Tote has been run, making some profit but smaller than many<br>have imagined with the use of a monopoly licence, would be another worry.

    <br>— Posted by SIR TRISTRAM on 2:54 am on Mar. 19, 2001

    When are you going to hire barry dennis to give bismarks daily?

    Are the rp. doing their own study into sectional times and if so are we<br>going  to see them in the paper anytime soon.

    A: Barry Dennis can keep his Bismarcks. A winner a day would be a better<br>idea. I haven’t heard of plans to print sectional times other than the ones<br>produced by courses. I’d think it would be a mountainous task to compile<br>them for every race meeting every day.

    <br>— Posted by Escorial on 5:46 pm on Mar. 19, 2001

    Three questions if I may Tony.

    1….what made you choose this line of  journalism ?. Was your main<br>interest journalism or sports ?

    2….which  area of sport do you specialise in ?.

    3….I have a love of writing and  a passion for racing. How easy/difficult<br>would it be for someone in my position,  to enter the field of racing<br>journalism and what qualifications etc would a  trade paper be looking for<br>?

    many thanks Tony

    A1:  It was an interest in racing combined with an interest in writing, but<br>more the former than the latter to begin with.

    A2: I work on the racing desk for the Post, specialising in horseracing and<br>therein principally daily news and the weekly ‘net prophet’ column.

    A3: It is open for anyone to become a racing journalist. The qualification I<br>had was a sound knowledge of racing; I learnt the journalism skills the<br>hard way, on the hoof. If you are eager to have a crack at racing<br>journalism you should compile a few articles and send them in to racing<br>editors asking for their views. They will soon tell you where you could<br>improve. A route into the industry might be to ask some of the many racing<br>websites and magazines for a trial run, or send in an article you think may<br>suit their style and ask if they would consider printing it.

    <br>— Posted by steffen on 11:26 pm on Mar. 19, 2001

    Hello Tony a question if I may ,I buy the Racing Post mainly for the sports<br>betting although I do follow National Hunt racing do you think the paper<br>would  benefit from some opposition as the Sporting Chronicle [ or was it<br>Life ] was a  few years ago I feel the paper has perphaps gone downhill<br>lately and to be  honest some days I can read it in 5 mins I think a few<br>more articles would help  as at over £300 a year it is not cheap.


    A: There are two types of punter, which one are you? There are those who<br>select their horse in 30 seconds from scanning the racecard, or those who<br>could take 30 minutes by closer study of the form and reading around the<br>subject. Which will bring most reward in the long run?<br>There is no doubt that competition is a driving force, but it is not up to<br>the Racing Post to go out and find it. In any case, the daily papers have<br>roundly taken up the mantle of competition after the shoddy closure of The<br>Sporting Life, appointing highly-paid tipsters, hiring big-name writers,<br>improving their racecard form and page design and working harder at<br>exclusive news stories.<br>Looking at the paper today we have seven pages of news and features on the<br>Grand National meeting, including a very rare interview with Darren Mercer,<br>five other pages of news and three more pages of features including the<br>tipping package. That is only the horseracing coverage

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    Thanks (yet again:laugh:) to everyone involved especially Tony Smurthwaite on this, another top piece of work :buddy: you lot never cease to amaze me!

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    <br>TOP STUFF

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    This time special thanks to Escorial who approached Tony and Tony himself for taking the time to answer the questions so in-depth.

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    Exellent, big thanks to Escorial, Daylight and to Tony Smurthwaite.

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    Thanks to all involved, it was very interesting!  

    Thanks again Katy  :wave:

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    Well done people, very interesting

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    yeah..thanks to all..keep em coming 🙂

    Jay Torbitt
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    Another excellent feature, and well done to all concerned!

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    That was really good, Thank’s Escorial.<br>I know how you got Tonys Attention,<br>you approached him and started talking<br>like a Texas Cowboy!!

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