Saturday, 22 December 2018

Dick Francis made racing

popular again I suppose. I think there was a bit of decline before the number of race-goers picked up again after his books received some attention. (You may correct me if I am wrong.)
Perhaps that is what is needed here, someone to write about racing in the same way.
The racing "industry" is apparently in shock because the new state government is, it is said, not going to pour in millions like so many governments before them. 
Industry? Isn't racing supposed to be a "sport"? Either way shouldn't it be paying for itself?
I know racing employs a lot of people but is this reason to subsidise it? Why should those wealthy enough to own (or even just part-own) a  race horse or two be given money for what should rightly be seen as their entertainment?
Now I admit I have never been to "a day at the races". I suspect I would be bored silly. I don't like the idea of horse racing so I have no doubt I will be accused of a considerable degree of bias against the whole business.
In my teens I used to go to a camp each summer. It was run by the Girl Guides Association. It was held on the grounds of a race course in the hills behind the city I live in. There were sixty children with disabilities, sixty Guides and assorted adult leaders camped around the outskirts of the race track. The children who could get themselves out of bed were often to  be found (still in their pyjamas) watching the horses go round and round the track very early in the morning.  
We never let the children get too near those horses. They were skittish, nervy over bred creatures. They were quite different from the big police "greys" who would come to visit at some point. All the children were given an opportunity to ride on one of  those. They were docile creatures who seemed to sense the needs of the children for whom we were responsible.  I was grateful for that because one child would not get on unless I sat behind him and held him - my first and last experience on the back of a horse.
You would not have got me on the back of a race horse. Those poor creatures frightened me. They still do. People say some horses like to race. I doubt it. They may like to run but I doubt they want to race. It is humans who want to race. 
The Senior Cat has been to the races just once. It was in his first year of teaching in a very tiny and remote outback community. The school inspector was due on race day and the Senior Cat told the "race committee" he couldn't attend (a) because it was a school day and (b) the inspector would  be there. This was met with smiles and nods and nothing was said. No child appeared at school and, after he had inspected the work the Senior Cat had laid out, the inspector said calmly, "Isn't it time we headed for the race track?"
Apparently the inspector, who could legitimately give a "half-holiday", always timed his visit so he could go to the outback race meeting. The Senior Cat closed the door on the one room classroom and they went to the race track where the Senior Cat spent the rest of the day being a steward of some sort. ("I was hopeless. They had to keep telling me what to do.")  There were apparently races of another sort for the children at the same event.
The horses of course were local horses, horses which were used to muster the local livestock. It was all just a bit of local fun. There was, according to the Senior Cat, some sort of obstacle race. Nobody took it seriously.  A few bets of a "case of beer" or "meal at the pub" type were laid, a few had too much to drink - and that was it.
It wasn't a huge multi-billion dollar industry (and yes, billion not million). People didn't invest millions. People didn't gamble more than they could afford on the outcome because the bets were limited.  Women didn't dress in silly hats and outrageous clothes and shoes.
Racing doesn't seem to me to be a productive industry. It only benefits a very few people and perhaps entertains a few more. It  should pay for itself, not expect a government handout. 


jeanfromcornwall said...

Isn't horse racing just a hangover from when the horse was the means of transport and traction.
Of course the "sport" will never die while it remains an opportunity for bookies to part hopefuls from their money - and I don't think the urge to gamble can ever be completely eradicated from the human race.

Jodiebodie said...

How much tax does the govt reap from gambling?