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Why do racing people view punters with contempt? It’s time the betting public were shown a little respect

, Why do racing people view punters with contempt? It’s time the betting public were shown a little respect

WHY do so many in racing view punters with contempt?

If the sport is to thrive in the future, it has to shake off its stuffy image and make everyone feel welcome.

Racegoers in trainers were turned away at Sandown racecourse

From the overall racegoer experience to the reluctance to communicate openly with fans, racing needs to move with the times.

There have been several moments over the past week that have made me want to bang my head against a wall.

I’m sure by now most of you have heard about ‘trainers gate’ at Sandown’s jumps season finale last weekend.

Two well-dressed women were denied entry into the ‘premier’ enclosure because they were wearing white trainers.

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Firstly, to describe Sandown’s more expensive enclosure as ‘premier’ is pretty laughable.

I have been a regular at the track over the past 15 years and the only thing premier about that section is the size of the queues at the bar.

You do have access to a very nice champagne bar and terrace, but as tipster Tony Calvin pointed out this week, racegoers are forbidden from drinking beer in that area.

So if you wanted to sit with friends in the sun and enjoy a pint rather than fork out for champers, the fun police (aka the racecourse staff) will be all over you like a rash.

On the subject of racecourse staff, when did they become so difficult?

“You can’t do this. You can’t do that. Where do you think you’re going in those shoes?”

One year at York races, I committed the cardinal sin of leaving the press room without my suit jacket on.

By the reaction of the stewards, you’d have thought they’d just caught me dealing Class A substances in the family fun section.

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I mean really, who gives a toss what you wear to a racecourse?

It’s not just Sandown, which is actually one of my favourite tracks, there are plenty of racecourses who can do a better job at improving the racegoer experience.

Bar the hospitality areas, and traditional events like Royal Ascot and the Derby, there shouldn’t even be a dress code on racecourses. 

There isn’t one at the football or the rugby or at theatres in the West End, nor is there at racecourses in Ireland or France.

Then there is the cost. For a run-of-the-mill midweek meeting, you’re looking at £20-30 to get in, £7 for a pint, £12 for fish and chips and a fiver for your racecard.

General admission into Longchamp for the French 2000 Guineas meeting is barely £5, while it was £25 on the door to get into the Punchestown Festival this week.

It’ll cost you the same amount just to gain access to the parade ring at Windsor on a bog-standard Monday night.

No wonder midweek crowds are so poor in this country, the racecourses are trying to take punters for a ride.

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Let’s move on, because the whole saga surrounding the John and Thady Gosden-trained Inspiral irked me as well.

It was proper cloak and dagger stuff when the Gosden’s were asked for updates on the long-time 1000 Guineas favourite.

Long-time 1000 Guineas favourite Inspiral was scratched from the race

Just a week ago, they claimed she was “where we want her to be” and had been “showing the right signs” at home.

But when the owner’s representative gave off a distinctly different vibe on TV, she immediately started drifting on the exchanges and two days later she was scratched.

I despair at the lack of openness in this game. Punters shouldn’t have to log on to Betfair to find out if their fancy is going to turn up.

In Australia, where the racing industry is booming, the public are constantly kept in the loop, even by the biggest yards.

In this country? Unless you’re on the Newmarket gallops at 6am getting a wink and a nod, you’re totally in the dark.

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Punters keep the show on the road through betting turnover, tickets, merchandise and TV subscriptions. I think they deserve a little more respect.



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