I do not understand the ruses and wiles of the marketing industry. Perhaps I was put off the touting of commerce by an over-loud town crier who never took a stern look as the censure it was meant to be. And big corporate events held at swanky high prestige sites, such as the V & A, as was the case for the announcing of the weights for the Grand National recently, which though good, perhaps vital, for the new sponsor, Randox Health, equally requires censure.
A new product, such as gentleman’s underwear impregnated with a cooling gel or a trek to the North Pole by scantily-clad missionaries in want of highlighting the need for scratching posts for polar bears would need to be announced to an unknowing public. But the Grand National is an annual event and everyone with an ounce of racing knowledge already knew, within a pound or two, the weights to be allotted to the majority of horses. Randox Health, God preserve them, possibly needed the grandiose environment of the V & A. to gain the attention of the public. The Grand National did not.
Surely the place to herald the beginning of the build-up to the Grand National would be somewhere synonymous with horse racing. Aintree comes to mind. Or a top racing yard. But not a museum. And not late in the evening. Did no one tell the organisers that racehorse trainers like to be in bed early as their day begins before dawn? A time of day, I suspect, London marketing people have little concept of.
Given that I.T.V. are to broadcast the race for the next five years to an audience, we hope, of ten-million or more, wouldn’t the sensible place to announce the weights be an extended ‘Morning Show’? Start the build-up where it will end. Perhaps on the morning of the Grand National Trial at Haydock. If they only have an hour to get the job done it might concentrate the mind, and with coffee and tea on offer and not alcohol those attending might listen and not converse with one another. I am confident Ed Chamberlain and Ollie Bell can be trusted to do justice to the event.
So there we have it. Problem solved. Next year the Grand National weights to be announced live on television at Haydock where in the afternoon there will be a Grand National trial. If Randox Health sponsored the race the circle will be completed.
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.