Archives for March 2013


It’s less than a week until England’s Aintree Racecourse, near Liverpool, opens for three days of competitive racing. Saturday’s main event is the John Smith’s Grand National steeplechase. In a steeplechase, the horses or “chasers” jump over sundry obstacles–fences, water, and open ditches.

The Grand National has a long and storied history, beginning with Lottery’s victory in the inaugural running in 1839 up through Neptune Collonges’ come-from-behind charge to win at the wire in 2012. Red Rum in the 1970s was the only three-time winner of the race.

Today, the Grand National is the world’s preeminent race for chasers. It is run on a 2 1/4 mile flat left-handed course. Normally, 40 horses compete over a 4 ½ mile journey encompassing 30 jumps, and some of the jumps have their own names.

Opening Day of the 2013 Aintree meet is Thursday, April 4, with seven races on the card. The features are the Bowl Chase, the Aintree Hurdle, and the Fox Hunters’ Chase.

Friday is Ladies’ Day with seven more races, including the Melling Chase, the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle, and the Topham Chase.

Grand National Day on Saturday has an exceptional undercard of six races, plus the featured John Smith’s Grand National, with post-time at 4:15 PM. in Liverpool.

Over 150,000 spectators will be attracted to the Aintree meet. Many come time and again for both the racing and the associated social events. The Grand National itself is viewed on television by hundreds of millions of people in about 140 nations. Racing UK carries all of the races, and can be accessed on the Aintree website.

With 40 entries, the odds cover a wide range. For example, for the 2013 race, On His Own is the favorite at about 6/1, whereas Mortimers Cross is at 200/1. The large number of entries in the field, the length of the race, difficult jumps that can be the bane of favorites, and the wide disparity of odds, create plenty of potential for unexpected results.

A legendary example of “anything can happen” occurred in 1967 in a 44-horse field.  In that race, a loose horse impeded almost the entire field at the 23rd jump.  As horses fell and havoc ensued, a 100-1 outsider by the name of Foinavon and his jockey John Buckingham were somehow able to navigate their way through. Though 17 jockeys were able to regroup and pursue Foinavon, he held on to win. The fence where the trouble took place was dubbed, appropriately, the Foinavon Fence.

The Racing Post, a widely read daily digital newspaper, offers a Guide to the Grand National that provides a wealth of information about the race. The online resource covers a potpourri of subjects, such as a history of famous winners and losers of the Grand National and details about the course and famous jumps, as well as podcasts with expert handicappers.

Copyright © 2013 Horse Racing Business


The American economy has been sluggish for approximately the past five years and pari-mutuel wagering has been under increasing pressure from gaming competition for decades. Under these foreboding conditions, racetracks, farms, auction houses, and other equine businesses are tempted to curtail marketing budgets. But the wiser action is often to boost outlays for revenue-enhancing activities once sales begin to stagnate.

A business’s revenue levels are to varying degrees a function of the amount of money it allocates to marketing. Yet when sales begin to decline, executives are tempted to cut back in such areas as advertising and personal selling in order to trim expenses. However, doing so may be counterproductive because the reduced spending will likely exacerbate the deterioration in revenues.

Curtailing marketing in the face of economic adversity is usually explained by the reasoning “we can’t afford the expense right now.” This implies that a firm’s marketing expenditures are ineffective, meaning that a dollar spent does not lead to more than a dollar in additional revenue.

In some cases, decreasing marketing expenditures is justified—for example, when the economic headwinds are so severe that no amount of demand stimulation will produce much revenue. However, this is the exception rather than the rule. If marketing and advertising expenditures do not more than pay for themselves, then something is wrong with the underlying strategy or tactics to begin with.

The pioneering marketing and advertising merchant John Wanamaker famously commented: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” What Wanamaker lamented has crossed the mind of anyone attempting to determine how much to spend on revenue-enhancing activities, particularly advertising, as well as where to allocate the dollars.

But today’s techniques for measuring and enhancing results are much better than in Wanamaker’s day and are dramatically improved over even a decade ago. For instance, free tools like Google Analytics are available to the smallest of businesses, search engine optimization is not an expensive undertaking, and simple experiments can be conducted for non-Internet types of promotion.

An organization that cuts promotional expenses in reaction to a decline in sales is reversing the normal cause and effect relationship between marketing and revenues.

Copyright © 2013 the Blood-Horse. Used with permission.


The following narrative is from the Dubai World Cup website:

“The Dubai World Cup, to be held on March 30, 2013, is the ‘world’s richest day in racing’ with total prize money of US $27,250 million for the showcase of nine races. The DWC race-day features three of the most valuable contests in the world of racing: the US $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic, sponsored by Longines; the US $5 million Dubai Duty Free, sponsored by Dubai Duty Free; and the famed US $10 million Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates Airlines. Those events are all Group One status.”

Once again this year, the advertising agency for the 2013 Dubai World Cup has crafted a riveting video about the world’s richest race. In an approximately 90-second frenetic journey, the viewer is vicariously transported from mostly iconic but cold and forbidding sites in Kentucky, London, Paris, and Japan to the warmth and sunny streets of Dubai. Even if one were not a fan of horse racing, this video would be hard to resist.

Click here to watch.

The many initiatives of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, continue to hugely benefit Thoroughbred horse racing, around the globe.