The day started unusually, as well as being a very personable on-course bookmaker’s assistant and...
Professional Punter but now ex-owner replies.
I had quite a bit of reaction to my latest blog for Star Sports Someone Has To Pay.
Most of it was positive about the main crux of the piece regarding increasing prize money for the lowest class racing. I received an email on the subject that I thought I'd share in its entirety. It covers ground that I hadn't thought about in my blog. This highlights how much harder things have got for owners at the lower but I suspect most profitable level of racing for bookmakers. Midweek meetings. It's from professional punter Alan Potts who has given me permission to reproduce it here.
Couldn't agree more - I've completely given up on ownership now, given away my last horse, cancelled all my registrations with Weatherbys and no intention of getting involved again.
Why - well the Premierisation thing finally convinced me that the people in charge have absolutely no interest in one horse owners from small stables like me. The ratio of costs to prize money has got steadily worse and it's plain as day that there won't be any more money for
horses like mine that run midweek at places like Bath and Salisbury.
If I told you I owned a horse that won a low grade staying handicap on a Saturday evening in June, beating 17 rivals in front of a big crowd and only got £2,820 in prize money, you'd probably think that sounds about right (apart from the number of runners!). Well I did own such a horse, trained by David Elsworth, he did win a 2M 3F race at Warwick - but it wasn't last year, that was in June 1981!
There are races at Southwell tomorrow evening that are only paying a hundred quid more than what I got 40+ years ago. My training fees then were £9 per day and the jockeys got about £30 per ride. Both those figures have multiplied by at least five, but prize money has only matched that in the big races. The ones that an owner like me can no longer get anywhere near.
The horse who won that race for me went on to run third in the Goodwood Stakes (on the day Charlie and Di got married) and unplaced in the Cesarewitch, but he was rated 60 by Timeform. About a stone below the bottom weight in those races in 2023. The Goodwood race winner got £4,600 in 1981, £38k in 2023. The Ces winner got £28k in 1981, £103k in 2023.
How many others are going to make the same decision as Alan? Racing really does need to fund from the bottom up. At least that's my humble opinion. Comments for or against most welcomed.