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18 Apr 18 12:30
Date Joined: 05 Jun 08
| Topic/replies: 1,364 | Blogger: RoyalAcademy's blog
From the Irish Field

There are two more HRI roadshows this week offering all interested parties in racing a chance to talk directly to all the main HRI directors

THE first two HRI Roadshows on what the future holds for Irish racing took place this week in Athenry and Dundalk.

Similar to our racecourses, the attendance was a bit disappointing at the one I attended in Dundalk but it was still a good exchanges of questions and views on the night.

We heard from CEO of HRI, Brian Kavanagh, and members of the HRI senior management team, on numerous topics ranging from the devastating implications of the Brexit “nightmare” for racing and breeding in Ireland, staffing issues within racing, the vital economic role played by racing and breeding in rural Ireland, and the importance of a solid funding structure to grow the industry and provide opportunities for those at every level.

In Dundalk, Kavanagh noted that the current issues causing concerns were staff shortage, ensuring staff could make a good living, and sharing the success in the National Hunt sector across the board. Another on-going challenge was to make going racing still relevant in the digital era.

Kavanagh defended the new media rights from criticism - the deal was good, “vital” was the word. It meant aligning Irish racing with strong partners in the big UK tracks – if the UK shops (all bar 70 out of 10,000 do) want the pictures from the bigger tracks UK meetings, they also must take Irish racing as well. Going forward, there is also the possibility that each Irish race meeting could be available to watch without interruption from parade ring, to start to finish on a type of ‘red button’ or ‘extra’ channel. ATR may not stay free-to-air when it becomes part of Sky.

Jason Morris, Director of Racing at HRI, spoke in depth about race programming and the patterns that have emerged in Irish racing in recent years. Allocation of fixtures were also discussed.

At the Dundalk assembly, trainer Anthony McCann expressed his annoyance at not being able to find a race for a 35-rated horse, fit and ready to run from last September. Horses at the bottom of the lower band were impossible to place, especially after the November drop in ratings. “We have to cater for the whole industry, the lower ones are going to struggle,” he added.

Morris was not comfortable about reducing the minimum value of races, however. Which tier of racing was most deserving of more prize money was part of the debate, in light of the Curragh classics being boosted this year. Was that the best place for it? It was noted that the French classics had increased in value this year and, to keep Ireland competitive on the world racing stage, more prize money for our classics was needed. “Looking to balance the equation” is the intention.

Data-rich racing with sectional timings was also suggested as racing is lacking in comparison with so many other sports.

The use of Dundalk and concerns over the track were addressed by track manager Jim Martin who said Dundalk, with 38 fixtures, is “still the least used all-weather track in the world” and they were working with the experts to maintain the surface.

The ongoing improvements in the owner racecourse experience at many tracks were praised by Rita Shah.

HRI’s Commercial and Marketing Director Paul Dermody spoke about the challenges of attracting people to go racing. Research found racing in Ireland has one of the biggest core audiences in sport and also employs almost 29,000 directly and indirectly. Over 900,000 people had an interest in racing though it was pointed out that, when asked, many were unaware of what Champions Weekend actually was.

Dermody identified his intentions to (1) grow the profile, (2) enhance the racecourse experience, and (3) build attendances. This all fell under three concepts: Understand, Communicate, Reward.

John Osborne of HRI Racecourses also took to the top chair and, while still ‘learning on the job’, his opinion was that “the core is the love that people have for the horse” and it gave a “thrill like the gadget never will.” He too was aware of the need for more information to “make data part of people’s enjoyment.”

The march of technology has given us reason not to go racing. People were more interested in sports with a global relevance.

Overall, it was an excellent opportunity to meet first-hand, or in a group, all the key people making the decisions, along with racecourse representatives. There may not be any easy answers but at least you can pose the questions to the relevant persons.

The remaining two roadshow dates are next Wednesday, April 18th at 7pm in the Horse and Jockey, Tipperary and Lawlor’s Hotel, Naas next Thursday.
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Report kavvie April 18, 2018 6:01 PM BST
what rubbish   
Dermody identified his intentions to (1) grow the profile, (2) enhance the racecourse experience, and (3) build attendances. This all fell under three concepts: Understand, Communicate, Reward.

1 grow the profile? by putting the product on a subscription channel eh?? brains there for sure

  2the racecourse experience  would be enhanced by better quality and value food drink and communications while at the track.a lot of tracks have small fuzzy screened tvs with no pictures ?  you would want to be a brave person to eat even a sandwich at some of them too.
3 wont happen unless 1 and 2 are adressed
Report RoyalAcademy April 19, 2018 5:12 PM BST
do you think you could achieve those two almost separate aims kavvie that appear possibly successful contradictory: promotion on TV and adding to attendances on track?

Is there too much attention paid to the punter? Lets face it, most lads all think they're geniuses and never lose-all they want is a laptop and/or a TV (and I don't buy the "we are funding the game" business).

Good attendances would show the sport in a far better light?

I do agree with what you say about improving the product alright. I'd love to use this thread to canvas people on their raceday experiences up and down the country. Wildman used to love Thurles, most would say its a kip, for example. Do some of the provincial tracks serve any purpose or are they mostly forward-thinking?

(There's at least a few hundred reading these threads that have some interest in Irish racing?)
Report foxy April 19, 2018 6:58 PM BST
From a uk visitor I really enjoy racing in Ireland in fact I find it a breath of fresh air like wild man I particularly enjoy thurles and think fairyhouse is vastly underrated,the only 2 I was not that keen on were limerick and cork,the cost of racing over there is sensible unlike the absurd prices in the uk,you have just introduced a magnificent two day festival at Leopardstown given luck with the weather in the years ahead will just grow and grow regarding the food over there my only complaint is they over face you be honest you don’t know how lucky you are with your national hunt racing.
Report kavvie April 19, 2018 7:10 PM BST
i think moving from atr to ruk is a huge mistake.out of sight out of mind etc?we wwre a big fish in a small pond on atr. we hardly will be with the stuffy ultra british ruk crew? the thing about attendances is its a chicken and egg.if the attendances increase the experience will get better. i attended a meeting recently and we wanted to see a race in england that was was almost impossible to see it,no sound etc ? and my friend had a bowl of soup and a roll. he had to abandon it to put it kindly. the experience of going racing has to improve and not be a negative thing.
Report pa lapsy April 19, 2018 7:29 PM BST
I had to laugh with A McC and the 35 rated horse,surely he was laughing himself,if not a career change for the horse is in order.

Bit surprised with your comment concerning Mallow Foxy,sheetty enough to get to unless a car(walk and railway/bus from city doable but awkward,i accept the results are odd at times but the whole course viewable.

Quite a bit of head in the sand from our hri buds as an awful percentage of the population were flaaed by big electric bills to now and their hands are firmly in their pockets,accept again it isn't an extragant day out if you didn't want it but people put priorities in order and for a lot it is better going elsewhere.
Report foxy April 19, 2018 7:42 PM BST
In fairness to mallow pa lapsy it was the day it bounced down all day when they finished after shattered love had won hilly way day.
Report pa lapsy April 19, 2018 7:50 PM BST
Fair enough,bad weather can get to anyone,just a place where the amount of rainfall is above normal and until they did up the track a few years ago it was more often then not be abandoned.
Rotten hard track to find winners though the course is very fair,never been to Thurles but a terrific servant to Irish racing.
Report foxy April 19, 2018 8:15 PM BST
Thurles is very different a bit like kelso ,they have spoilt it a little by opening a new **** betting shop which infringes on the bar cafe area I am very fond of the place.
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