This week’s column – begins with two media notices, but no change of slogan or advice. So whatever you do, stay safe!
Congratulations to: The amazing team at HuffPost UK, deserved winners of the Vest Site For News-led Journalism in The Drum’s Online Media Awards. Jess Brammar (and congratulations on the new arrival!) has done a tremendous job leading a team that was able to find the all too rare balance between headline news and the stories that are too often missed. Huge congratulations to to Aasma Day, Becky Barnes, Nadine White, Emma Youle, Rachel Moss, Rachel Warmouth, Arj Singh and Brogan Driscoll.
Commiserations to: The brilliant team at BuzzFeed News UK, who produced some of the most engaging and important journalism of the past decade in a setting which was far more accessible than many of their rivals. The gutting of BuzzFeed News’s UK operation is a huge blow for many causes, and all credit should go to the tremendous editors and reporters who have done such great work over the past few years. A big hand to editors Alan White & Stuart Millar, and ace reporters Hannah Al-Othman, Emily Ashton, Emily Dugan, Alex Wickham, Alex Spence, Patrick Strudwick, Biz Pears, and Ade Onibaba who will surely be back at work soon.
What I’m Listening To: Fiasco, Season 1. An enthralling journey through one of the most consequential moments in history – that of the famous 2000 US Election – it hooks you right from the very start and you can listen to the first season for free. Episode 2 – Real Numbers – looks at the famous/infamous election night from the view of the broadcasters that gave the state to Al Gore and George Bush in the same evening. Make sure you have an hour spare to give this the time it deserves.
This is perhaps a more personal recommendation, but The Next Episode’s reporting during Coronavirus has been thoughtful and insightful, and their latest episode on the effects of loneliness – where Linda Adey talks to the Minister for Loneliness (Baroness Barran) about why the UK does not have a “clear plan” to tackle lockdown loneliness for 18-25s. Something that’ll really make you think.
What I’m Reading: My first book arrival of the lockdown – I’ve made a contribution to a crowd-funder for another book – is Charlotte Henry’s Not Buying It. In an age where Nothing Is Real, this is an underrated guide to how exactly it came to this, and useful for either a mega reading session or to try and whittle away a few minutes.
And on a racing note, I’m reading a 60 horse to follow list, sent by the good people at Picks From The Paddock. Do consider buying the guide to support the NHS as well as supporting your form.
What I’m Watching: Copious amounts of French Racing, and god, it is good, but also deep dives from the BBC’s Documentary Archive. Do yourself a favour and head to their A-Z listing.
And this excellent guide to Socially Distancing at the BBC, from ace camera-operator Emma Bentley:
It’s currently going ‘viral’ on TikTok, so here is how we’re staying safe 🎥🦠 pic.twitter.com/pepC8Xrbeh
— Emma Bentley (@EmmaLBentley) May 13, 2020
Word Of The Week: Forensic (adjective) ‘relating to or denoting the application of scientific methods and techniques to the investigation of crime.’ Follow the money.
It’s As Simple As…
Brain surgery. After more awful Government communications, the early part of this week was dominated by confusion as millions of people made their return to work whilst millions more weren’t sure about what to do, thus leading to viral videos of packed buses and tubes, electing outrage from people who forget how impossible London is to navigate with a car. You couldn’t make
Alllez France… and then Ireland?
A huge thanks to all involved with bringing back French racing this week, and – along with more than a few racing jurisdictions in the world – setting a roadmap for how the sport can operate for the foreseeable future. One can only hope that the Government allows the BHA to return as soon as possible with a bumper set of pattern races all lined up.
There have also been some significant interventions in Ireland, where racing has a provisional return date of June 29 – phase three of the Irish Government roadmap, which outlines the staggered reopening of businesses and social activities. That would be a major blow to the industry, so it’s understandable that plenty want an earlier return – and there’s a pretty strong case for it. See this letter from Arthur Moore:
Nail on the head from the wise Arthur Moore pic.twitter.com/4fiNgLbIqs
— Joe Foley (@JoeFoleyBally) May 13, 2020
That was followed by Martin Heydon’s powerful address in the Dail on Wednesday, which again made a very coherent case for bringing forward the date.
Public health has to be the first concern in no uncertain terms, but Ireland has managed the pandemic as well as almost any Western European nation (at the time of writing, there are 2,434 cases) and Horse Racing Ireland already has experience with Socially Distanced racing behind closed doors too. A return at the same time as Britain would also help the pattern greatly, especially with British races open to Irish runners.
Moving the Crown Jewels
Following on from the UK’s plan for a flat season, this was an interesting note from James Knight on Twitter regarding juvenile races:
If Royal Ascot is planning to stage 2yo races from 16th-20th June , then assuming there must be *loads* of 2yo races scheduled for Week 1 of resumption. Otherwise they will be featuring a lot of unraced (and presumably randomly balloted?) horses.
— James (@jamesaknight) May 14, 2020
And from James Millman yesterday:
Also slightly surprised to see that BHA are keen to have 2yo races at Royal Ascot and will try to put on enough 2yo races to give horses relevant experience.
Going to need around 50 of those in week 1 to try and give you a 10-14 day turnaround!
— James Millman (@jrmillman) May 13, 2020
Having any sort of Royal Meeting is better than none, but there will be some pretty unprecedented situations, especially regarding juvenile events. James’s suggestion of having valuable maidens a la Glorious Goodwood – and perhaps a conditions race or two – seems a sensible measure, although one option that could be open is shifting the titled group races to later in the season. Newmarket created a juvenile Champions Weekend – would a midsummer festival of sorts for juveniles be possible?
Question: As someone who has bet on the horses one (1) time in my life, how the hell do you even get into that world? Like, there’s so many terms and lingo that I have no idea what I’m doing. I wouldn’t even know how to make a bet in person. How do you get into that world?
Jacob (@JacobDyer), Twitter
Answer: This is a tremendous question! Most people who get into betting as a whole tend to do so through either family or friends by my experience – I got into this through racing specifically, which is a common route but not as common as it used to be.
The majority of people who are into racing would have a family connection (I imagine), but plenty get into it through friends – especially with racing’s heavy promotion of student racedays, especially in Europe. I got into racing through being a heavy visual learner – I was channel switching at a young age and was enthralled by a bog standard race on the all-weather, I think – and I got the bug from there.
Question: Why don’t you have a cleaner?
Martin, (@quevega), Twitter
Answer: Owen Jones shamed me into it. You happy?
A Shining Example
And last but not least, this lovely email from Rosemarie which isn’t a question – but something worth sharing too.
I have one! Not to with being able to afford one. Since having Sept 2018 I have had a condition called labyrinthine defective visual vertigo. I al so have had 2 back operations. So I can’t bend down or ‘put my back into it’.
As isolating due to immune system I have plenty of time but my physical restrictions have not gone away. I will not have my cleaner in my house but am still paying her – via direct debit.
Be more like Rosemarie.
Thanks to everyone for their questions – and as ever, if you want to get in touch about anything, do just email firstname.lastname@example.org, and a remember – Stay Alert out there.
Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.