Anyone who has taken the trouble to browse through my ‘outpourings’ since the creation of this website might credit me with coming up with some interesting if not downright brilliant ideas. Doubtless I have also committed to public viewing as many ideas that are less well-thought-out. I have ‘solved’ the problem of whip abuse, for instance, and my idea for returning the Lincoln Handicap to fame and glory I thought to be particularly brilliant – a 40 runner race started from a barrier, as it used to be in its heyday. I have also proposed a better fixture list for summer jumping that involve festivals and the promotion of local commerce as they do so successfully in Ireland.
But no matter your poor opinion of my ideas nothing I have come up with is as stupid as ‘street racing’; the prospect chills my marrow and curdles my spleen.
My main objection is that horses are neither bicycles nor are they are motor cars. And the other thing that flat horses are not is point-to-pointers. They are not as placid; they have little notion of the world beyond the racing environment. Pointers you could take to a park in central London without boiling their brains. Three-year-old flat horses you cannot. The concept has a greater potential for disaster and P.R. humiliation than a free bar at a school disco.
I realise the necessity for taking horse racing to a whole new audience as cycling has memorably achieved, has had both athletics and motor racing. But street racing is most definitely not the way to boost racing’s appeal. There are too many ways for the P.R. exercise to misfire – loose horses running amok, either loose or careering into spectators. Horses being injured during a race, perhaps fatally so. The problem of adhering to the rules of racing, especially when it comes to patrol cameras etc. It’s madness to even consider taking the racecourse experience to the streets of London or elsewhere. So I point you in the direction of Europe:
La Laredo, Spain. Duhner-Wattrennen, Germany. Loredo, Spain. Plestin-Les-Greves, Brittany, France. Ploucat, Brittany. Sanluca de Barrameda, Spain.
And especially Laytown. Laytown may be unique in Britain and Ireland, though Tramore started as a beach racecourse and of course many trainers already exercise their horses at the beach, so that suggests there must be somewhere in Britain that has suitable sand and tides to make a British version of Laytown a viable prospect. And the above list of European resorts comprises next year’s beach racing fixture list. What’s missing, of course, is a British contribution to this where surf meets turf development.
Here is a tourist attraction for any beachside resort to develop. Whereas with street racing there is the expense of laying down a track, Southport or Blackpool or whatever venue is the first to give it a try already has a surface in situ, with only harrowing required to produce a strip suitable for horses to race on. The P.R. potential would be as favourable at the seaside as it would in central London, with much greater space for horse and spectator. Disaster may occur, this is still horse racing after all but at least the idea is tried and tested, with the good people of Laytown to go to for advice.
So kick street racing into touch and commit to beach racing. Fun for all the family, as it seems to be at Laytown.
On an unrelated matter, and nothing whatsoever to do with racing. I have relaunched a novel I wrote many years ago – Linda Versus God. It is to be found on the shelves of all good e-book retailers, priced £1.99
It is not brilliant, ‘unputdownable’. Nor will it change your life. But it is worth a read. Honest.
Keith Knight is a workaday writer of fiction, worker in the real world but foremost a horse racing fanatic. The joy of the sport is the horse - all horses.