Page 82

kempton park and King George success. So is the Sandown dream achieveable? Can the course accommodate more racing? Will a ground report and an investment analysis be produced to show what is going to be done or needs to be to improve the drainage so that it will be suitable? What implications to the rest of Sandown programme will the proposal have? Can Sandown actually become what is being envisaged? Have plans been put together? 9. What is happening to NH racing and what is the long term goal / strategy for the peoplefriendly sport? Is NH racing going to revolve solely around the big meetings at Cheltenham and Ascot? 10. Has the JC really been doing enough to ensure the survival of its all of tracks, and has the organisation been run sucessfully, has it been marketing Kempton enough to the locality, planning “special” race days and the like? Why has the track got such a poor image – whose fault is that and can it be reversed aka the Grand National in the 1980s? Is the JC on a sound base to move into the future? 11. What other options are there (Newburylike) and should they be examined by a thirdparty to offer further advice? How has the JC been handling its dealings with the locality – why is there such negativity between the two groups? Or, as Marcus has suggested overleaf, is all of this in fact nothing more than a planning game?

Is anyone in charge of a strategic plan?

Essentially this discussion really begs the above question. Someone or an organisation in racing, with the power to exert and influence, needs to discover if the sale of Kempton and the ongoing plans really are going to be a positive for racing. (And, what is more, does racing really need a lengthy and probably quite nasty planning permission fight on its hands?) What we need is a report into the Kempton proposal, with a strategic view into the future that will take into account where and how racing under both codes should develop under a 10-year, 20-year strategic plan. We need answers to the questions and to

82

www.internationalthoroughbred.net

The oldest photo we found of Kempton. It was taken in 1943 and is of horses Mange Tout and Snake Lightning leading the field. We have taken an industry / economic view in our discussions on these pages, but is it actually right that our racing heritage is discarded without more consideration?

know whether, if handled correctly, the gain that the JC claims it will produce, could ever really happen? And will that claim really be enough to warrant the loss of Kempton with all its facilities, it location near to London, its young grandstand, its ready-made infrastructure. While the Jockey Club claims to be the protector of racing, that position was removed when it lost its governance and power. It is now an owner of racecourses with all the business and economic and profit-making decisions that come with ownership, albeit that it directs all profits back to racing. Perhaps the wider question that needs posing, is who is directing these wider, strategic decisions? As the BHA does not own anything, does it actually have any powers to strategically plan the future of racing? As mentioned before you can’t reclaim the site once it is sold, and the implications of the loss of such a logistically important AW track (in fact claimed to be “vital” by Roger Charlton) and a superb NH track, needs further examination than has been produced so far. It is profitable, and although the antiKempton view claims the no one goes racing and there is no atmosphere, what are the change by moving a course to Newmarket? Why will it be any different and not worse

based at the difficult-to-get-to town? Perhaps we should be having an even wider discussion as to where racing fits into the digital-based, shopping-heavy, time poor, screen-obsessed leisure age? The big Saturday summer racing days are fun and well attended, NH is popular, but what needs to be done to market less glamorous affairs? To round up, Kempton is a profitable enterprise that should not be discarded without due consideration. The AW is a strategically important course for all trainers and their owners – is well-used by all Flat trainers, whatever their location; its surface is good, the track is fair, it is easy to access for the vast proportion of owners. The NH course provides unique opportunities for good ground in winter and hosts one of the key races of the jumping season; turf courses can not be duplicated. From our examination the numbers just don’t seem to stack up to back the plan put forward by the JC, but still we are prepared to accept that the proposal could indeed be the most wonderful opportunity for racing. But, we really believe that the proposal is too big a punt for British racing to move forward with without an eye on the future and so much more analytical work being done to understand all the implications.

Profile for Thoroughbred Publishing

ITB_March_April 2017  

We speak to champion UAE trainer Doug Watson ahead of the Dubai World Cup, we put some data behind the Jockey Club's Kempton Park proposals,...

ITB_March_April 2017  

We speak to champion UAE trainer Doug Watson ahead of the Dubai World Cup, we put some data behind the Jockey Club's Kempton Park proposals,...