The world of finance is as much a mystery to me as the things scientists study using an electron microscope, and I am not really sure what one of those does or even looks like. Money, too, is a dark and slippery commodity to me. As are numbers. In fact if there is such a condition as number dyslexic then I have it. Bye the bye, you would have thought the word describing the condition of having difficulty with words would be short and without y’s or x’s and easy to say, or remember. Though in this perverse world that we live in I dare say dyslexics have no trouble reading the world dyslexic. Less trouble, perhaps, than I have spelling the word!
Square roots, algorithms or even Roman numerals pass me by in a similar manner to which high or fast flying birds do when I am trying to identify them.
So my next great idea may be easily torn to shreds by those of you with a university education. Or indeed any education that afforded you half-decent grades in mathematics or applied physics.
When I read the report in the Racing Post on the 4-million guinea yearling filly bought by Godolphin something that at the time I could not put into words irked me. On the way in to work today that idea manifested. What does racing financially get out of the auction price of the 4-million guinea baby? It doesn’t even get good publicity as anyone outside of the sport reading about a 4-million guinea horse will assume that racing must be awash with money and the combined envy of the masses will stretch from here to Saturn and back, with mainstream media more interested in the rumours of back-handers and the laundering of crooked money. We must accept that racing is not understood by the outside community. Not even by other sports fans.
It seems unfair on the much criticised betting industry that it is expected to put money into racing’s finances when the breeding industry, or at least I believe, operates in splendid isolation. The vendors of million dollar babies get their profit; Tatts, Goffs etc get their commission, which I should imagine is substantial and owners of half-brothers and sisters to the 4-million and other million dollar yearlings reap the reward of association. Yet racing, seemingly, gets not a sou.
Stallions are made commercial and profitable largely through winning races and prize money. The value of mares is enhanced in a similar manner. In fact the breeding industry, at least at the top end, is fuelled by horse racing. One could not survive without the other. It is on the racecourse that reputations and investments are won and lost. Is it asking too much to expect the breeding industry to give a little back? A strong, vibrant racing scene must be good news for all sectors of the sport, and prize money that challenges the purses of races abroad is central to securing racing’s long-term well-being.
So why not impose a 1% or 2% levy on the purchase price of yearlings and mares to help fund horse racing. By my very sketchy workings-out, using Google, obviously, the sale of the 4-million guinea baby, if 2% went to fund horse racing, would net £84,000. Hardly the value of one of the bids in the battle between Coolmore and Godolphin to buy the filly.
I leave more intelligent people to figure out how much additional revenue would fall into racing’s coffers if my idea could be turned into a runner. I have no doubt that if my idea was, in any shape or form, put up for debate the wailing and gnashing of teeth from breeders would be heard the length and breadth of the land. As it was when bear-baiting, cock-fighting and no doubt hanging, drawing and quartering, were banned. All activities that were once, long long ago, associated with a good day out at the races.
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.