I love horse racing. Honestly, I do. I have a snappy hat and even a new suit and I plan to parade both on Derby Day.
But I do have one awkward question for the racing industry – or, more to the point, for the Seven Network, which happens to be broadcasting the major race days. What I want to know is why the finish of every race has to include a cutaway to the owners of the horse?
For a start, it’s crap TV. All we ever see are a group of men in suits and women in hats clenching their fists, yelling “Yes!” and maybe hugging one another. It’s exactly the same scene every time – like the endless speeches that start with: “What a wonderful day!”
My other issue with this now-standard edit in the replay of a race finish is that I really don’t care one blade of Flemington grass about the owners. I know, I know … maybe I’m just jealous that I don’t have the kind of spare readies to run a few horses around the cups. That could be it.
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But sport is usually about the participants, not the financial backers. These people only have their wallets on the line, not their lives, as the jockeys and horses do. In racing, the owners get to accept a trophy and a large cheque a few minutes later and I think that’s enough.
The way I see it, when Fields of Omagh nosed to a second Cox Plate last weekend, it was a beautiful moment for the jockey, the trainer and the horse (making the large assumption that the horse could care less, which is a matter of some debate depending on where you stand in racing).
Damian Oliver winning the Melbourne Cup so soon after his brother’s death? Huge moment and I cried with him. The day Gai Waterhouse finally lands a Melbourne Cup or a Cox Plate? That will be a watershed moment in her career, and I’ll be oh so happy for her. Makybe Diva winning her third straight Cup and strutting into retirement. She deserves nothing but the very best hay a drought can offer.
But the faceless moneybags in the stands? Yelling and hugging because their fabulous wealth just got wealthier on the back of a straining, whipped horse and a half-starved jockey? Thanks but I’d rather stay in the mounting yard with the people who have been up pre-dawn for months to make the win happen.