Monday, 15 August 2011

Horse Time

I've recently been looking into the Horse Racing Industry and what a fascinating sport it is. Behind football it's the second most popular sport in the U.K but how utterly different they are. I went to visit Seamus Mullins at his stables in Wiltshire to find out just what a horse trainer does.

It was a real insight into the rigorous training the horses go through. You see a jockey ride a horse at the races, but it's the stable lads and lasses that go out everyday with the horses keeping them in good shape. It takes dedication, care and passion to work at a stables.

At the races there is such importance placed on betting. When you to watch football you support a team and you go for the match. Yet in horse racing it seems to be you only like the winner as they will win you money. And of course it's the prize money that keeps the trainers, jockeys and stable staff going.

There are many contentious issues in horse racing at the moment. The rise of online gambling means there is less money going into the Horse Racing levy pot. Some sites register off shore so the money they make doesn't come back into the U.K or indeed the industry.

Another factor is cost. Prize money has fallen by about 10% yet the cost of feed, insurance and just day to day costs have risen. It seems increasingly hard to make the books balance. Even though racing is popular, the industry need to work hard to bring new audiences in if the sport is to have a prosperous future.

Some might say the industry needs an image change. It's widely known the use of the whip puts a lot of people off from going to the races. The BHA are mid way through a review of how the whip is used. Currently there are strict regulations for jockeys and the whip they do use has been partly designed by the RSPCA. But there are still jockeys, including well known names like Frankie Detorri , that over use the whip and get suspended. The charity Animal Aid still lobby's for the whip to be banned and the BHA still say the whip is not cruel and used for safety purposes only. We'll have to see what the result is of the BHA report which comes out in autumn.