Sporting Life Racing Podcast: Prize-money row

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Cornelius Lysaght feels the row over prize-money and the delayed publication of the fixture list from September onwards is proof the “honeymoon period” since racing resumed is over.

As we stand no fixtures have been published beyond the end of August and the Racehorse Owners Association and Racecourse Association are finding little common ground.

Speaking on this week’s Sporting Life Racing Podcast Lysaght said: “It’s potentially a huge headache and uncertainty is worse than almost everything else. For no-one, the media through to racecourses and trainers making plans, to have any fixtures beyond August 31 is a problem.

"The honeymoon period feels over and the shine is coming off the happiness somewhat. There’s a feeling now that maybe some of the powers that be who pulled off that resumption on June 1 and then staging the likes of the Guineas, the Derby and Oaks, Royal Ascot in it’s usual place... well, they won that war – now they’ve got to win the peace.

"There’s the slight feeling that things aren’t quite going as well. If the powers that be are working really hard and feel they’re nearly there, well then they’re not giving that impression. It’s all about perception among the wider public but internally as well, the racing constituency needs a boost.

“The Hexham chief executive the other day said some heads need knocking together which sounded like some good Northumberland sense to me. If we have the racecourses on one side and the horseperson’s group, as I’d like to call them, on the other and they can’t come to an agreement, well for goodness sake.

“They must know we’re in extraordinary times and the owners are really important and ultimately if they get miffed now because prize money is bad and they feel they’re not being treated particularly well when they get to the races, well that’s going to have an effect in the future. It’s a big, big, issue.”

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Timeform Flat Editor David Johnson isn’t surprised to see some trainers targeting the money on offer in France at the moment – but doesn’t feel there’s a chance of the big names being moved away from these shores.

“I don’t think we’re in danger of losing the star horses, for so long it’s never really been the prize money that’s attracted the very best horses to racing in the UK, it’s the prestige.

“When you talk about a race like the St Leger you’re going back to the 1700s so you’ve got that advantage but at the mid-tier level you’re often seeing trainers talk about going to France to places like Cagnes-sur-Mer.

“You look at the prize money they’re picking up for running in claimers there and it’s very hard for them to justify saying ‘you know what, we’ll come back and race for a third or a half of that in the UK’.

“There’s a straw that’s going to break the camel’s back soon if we're not careful and it’s something we need to be aware of.”

Ben Linfoot is wondering what affect the issue will have at the major yearling sales which get under way next month.

“You’re relying on the sporting element at the minute in the whole of horseracing with prize money slashed across the board because of the situation and you wonder just how long that sort of sentiment will last?" he asked.

“We’ll see going into sales season just how much it effects the bloodstock world as well.”


Download the podcast here...

David Ord is joined by Cornelius Lysaght, Timeform Flat Editor David Johnson and Ben Linfoot to look ahead to Saturday's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes as well as the Sky Bet York Stakes.

They also take a wander down memory lane for their favourite Ascot memories and address other issues such as the prize-money row and a lack of fixtures from September onwards.

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