Crockford calls on the industry to improve the quality of racing for what could be bumper Bank Holiday crowds
Surely it is about time that the racing industry takes a look at the quality of racing on offer on Bank Holiday Mondays? Today the cards at Cartmel, Carlisle, Redcar, Leicester and Windsor could not muster a listed or graded race between them with only Redcar providing a race (the Zetland Cup) with prize money over £15,000.
There should be nothing said against the courses or the cards as they all have their place, but more investment is needed in prize money for Bank Holidays to improve the quality.
Unlike Easter Monday there is no excuse for the racing calendar not to be planned to include feature events on the May, Spring and August Bank Holidays. One might argue that the May Bank Holiday weekend benefits from the Guineas Meeting at Newmarket and that itself suffices for lesser cards to take place on the monday. However, there is no such excuse for the other two dates.
The Spring Bank Holiday would almost appear to be perfectly timed for feature races to be held. In years gone by Sandown had a good card, highlighted by the Group Two Temple Stakes and Group Three Henry II Stakes. With the Temple Stakes now moved to Haydock on the Saturday of the weekend and the Henry II Stakes moved to the Thursday evening of the week the Bank Holiday has been deprived of quality.
The cure could be simple; move the Thursday night card replete with two Group Three and two Listed contests to the monday afternoon. Logically more punters would bet and more spectators would attend. The card could be further enhanced by the addition of a valuable handicap.
There is even an argument that perhaps this could be a two day fixture with the Sunday utilised as well, especially if the Temple Stakes were to be repatriated to the London course. In return perhaps Haydock could be rewarded with a valuable sprint handicap of the ilk of the Wokingham, Stewards Cup or Portland, as there appears to be a gap in the early season sprint schedule for such a race.
Similar considerations should be made for the August Bank Holiday with perhaps concentration being placed on enhancing the traditional Epsom card.
Good Friday at Lingfield Park shows what can be done, and proves that if you promote it and provide excellent prize money bumper crowds will attend including many new to racing.
The racing industry needs to have faith and invest in Bank Holiday weekends and especially Mondays – there could be new audiences and future fans out there.
(Featured Photograph – Bumper Bank Holiday Crowds on Good Friday at Lingfield Park by Stuart Rice)