SOMETIMES you cannot win. Emails in the past few weeks have seen me criticised for being praiseworthy of a weekend of racing, while the views of a reader, expressed through the letters page of the paper, were the subject of a firm, and very valid rebuttal.
In each case, regrettably, the email writers did not want their views published. I have huge regard for both of the email authors, and I fully accept their excellent comments, and they express points that deserve a wider airing. The importance of being able to express a counter view is one that I hold dear – I most certainly do not expect all readers to agree with everything I pen.
If there are times that I am upbeat about the racing product, or am a glass half-full guy rather than a pessimist, I make no apology for that. Those who constantly, and they are a vocal minority, seek to voice negativity about the sport are entitled to do so. However, they must be aware that in so doing they run down a sport, industry and business that we earn our living from.
No racing means no breeding, no jobs and no requirement for ancillary businesses. Yes, we need to right the wrongs, to do better at times, and we must be adaptable to change. The world itself is ever changing, and how we measure success must readjust to the new reality.
Take that of racecourse attendances, the subject of no end of comment following Galway this year. The overall figure was down 9.6% on 2019, the last year before the pandemic. While a like for like comparison is one measure, does that also mean that interest in racing has declined by so much?
The answer is no, if you bring into the mix streaming figures and the interest shown in racing for the televised coverage. There are many other factors to consider – weather, economic pressures and changed habits now that people have the freedom to travel again after a few of years of restrictions.
Many people I know, who would have gone racing to Galway for two or three days, instead went once as they were not prepared to pay the prices looked for by hotels in the area. This, as with other factors, was beyond the control of the racecourse. In light of this, I think we should laud Galway and its team for a job well done.
That said, I am also certain there are those who have a different view.