Monday Musings: Teething Problems

Re-branding done wrong...

Re-branding done wrong…

This last week has seen some teething problems. From Newbury to geegeez to a more literal interpretation, this post is dedicated to those teething issues.

Let’s start at Newbury, where the sport played support to a logistical miscalculation of some magnitude. In case you didn’t know, last year Newbury Racecourse re-branded itself as The Racecourse, Newbury. At the time it was the subject of much merriment among media commentators and fans of racing alike.

How pompous, they chortled.

But what most failed to foresee was that the renaming was part of a much larger re-branding exercise, built around an aura of exclusivity. That ‘aura’ extended for the first time last week to a revised dress code which is as extensive and confusing as it is unnecessary (in my opinion).

Plenty have launched into The Racecourse, Newbury about their latest literal style makeover, notably Greg Wood in the Guardian. And I tend to agree with him – and the majority of others – that contend it is a heavy-handed and overbearing sartorial ruleset, without much of a rationale.

In this day and age, the commentators argue, surely racing should be embracing racegoers of all shapes and sizes, formally dressed or otherwise. To employ ‘fashion police’ at the gates, checking for collared shirts and inspecting the length of skirts and dresses, is bad enough. To insist on removal of coats to ensure collars fit the bill is worse. But to insist those paying for Premier entry must drop down a ‘class’ in the Newbury accommodation for failing a dress test is arguably worse than orangestickergate.

How pompous, they growled.

The issue here is less the revised dress code which, while I don’t agree with it, I can see that it is actually not that big a deal either way. No, the problem was the unthinking, patronising mismanagement of the situation.

Newbury referred to this opening weekend of the new code as a ‘soft launch’. That means that they were finding their feet with it. Surely it then stands to reason that their customers were also finding their feet, no? Many will have been unaware of the revisions, some will have been unprepared to dress in a set manner according to a leisure facility’s diktat.

Whatever the reason, it makes – and made – far more sense to give people a flyer with their ticket/racecard/on the gate, explaining that new rules were in place and please note them for future reference when failure to adhere will result in less complete access to facilities.

In other words, don’t employ the bouncer in a nightclub approach of ‘sorry sir, not tonight’, whilst scouting a punter’s shoes.

Careless, avoidable, and another own goal for a sport with a generally expanding footprint in terms of live track attendance. It will be interesting to see how much further down the ‘exclusive’ route Newbury believes it can travel, and what – if any – impact on future ticket sales this gaff has.

One final point regarding the dress code is that it seems to be something of a red herring in terms of the real issue with which Newbury has struggled in recent years: that of excessive drinking and ensuing violence. It should be noted that the notorious brawl between Swansea and Cardiff fans at the track was a well-heeled affair.

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So perhaps closer control on bar sales might assist, rather than insisting on a collared shirt or a knee length skirt.


More teething troubles, this time closer to home. As regular readers will know, geegeez was due to go to a ‘registered user’ model from last Thursday. Unfortunately, we still have one or two gremlins in the works with the new system, and I’m loathe to switch over until they are understood and resolved. That should be this week.

I certainly hope it will be, and of course will keep you fully in the loop on that.

In the meantime, we’re working on a couple of new reports which will be part of the (very affordable) premium access level. As well as the pace report – a really useful tool which pointed to such as As I Am, 11/2 sole front runner and winner of the first at Newbury on Saturday – there will soon be a full ‘horses for courses’ report, highlighting the track record of all horses running that day to have previously run at their intended course engagement.

It’s dead simple and will show you at a glance the best win and place records. That’s the first of a set of new reports, all designed to make form study more accessible, and less labour intensive. I’m looking forward to testing it out this week! 🙂


Leon all set for Newbury, or Chetenham..

Leon all set for Newbury, or Chetenham..

On the subject of literal teething problems, poor young Leonardo has been going through the inevitable agonies of being a toddler and sprouting pearly-whites. He’s over the worst of it, thankfully, with pretty much a full set of gnashers already, aged fourteen months.

And he’s now charging around the place and showing a pleasing – to daddy, at least – aptitude for kicking a ball!

He’s already taken note of Newbury’s dress code, as you can see from this picture, and will be looking forward to donning his clobber at a racecourse very soon. (He made his first appearance on the track, aged seven weeks, at the now defunct Folkestone).

Good lad!


And finally, news of a couple of competitions.

Firstly, well done to reillysmiley who came closest to the correct answer in our Seanie Mac competition on Saturday.

With nobody nominating 20/1 scorer, Triolo d’Alene, those who chose second placed Rocky Creek were entered into the tie breaker round. The actual winning distances at The Racecourse, Newbury, on Saturday were 66.25 lengths. Closest to that whopping margin was reillysmiley, who guessed 39 lengths.

Well done that man – funds will be credited to your Seanie Mac account shortly.

Meanwhile, in the Tipping League competition for November, winner of the £100 first prize – cash this month, as I’m ‘between sponsors’ for that competition – is tipking141.

His profit of 767.15 units also earns him the 2013 Breeders Cup programmes from Friday and Saturday, as a bonus.

Although kipper was second in the profit stakes, he failed to make the requisite minimum of twenty bets, so second prize – £60 – goes to zappman, with a commendable 427.78 units.

Third prize – £40 in readies – will wing its way to fifth placed alfieboy, as the fourth-placed player, tclee2, had also failed to make the requisite number of wagers.

Well done to all, especially tipking141, aka Mr Finnie. I’ll be in touch tomorrow to sort out prizes.

And that’s because today, I’m off on a jolly with Mrs Matt. We’re headed to the swanky Lancaster Gate Hotel in central London for the Derby Awards, which are the racing writer and broadcaster awards.

No, I’m most certainly not up for any gongs. Instead, I won two tickets in the HWPA tipping competition. Even then, it wasn’t for stellar performance in that contest, but rather that my name was pulled from a hat from all the tip comp entries. Who was it that said, ‘better to be lucky than good’?

Have a great Monday!


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