Owners Rep Blog

Owners rep Blog - Rock and a hard place

We had our second Innovation Panel meeting last week at the GBGB offices in London. Rachel Corden, on behalf of the Racing Committee, had asked us to consider ways to improve the Owners Bonus Series so this was one of the main focuses of the day.

We started with a wider debate focused on the idea that graded racing is sort of broken from an entertainment perspective, particularly for owners. Owners experience great excitement when their new dog arrives and when they don’t quite know what they’ve got. Then eventually most dogs find their grade and frankly the excitement is much lower from that point onwards. They are stuck there forever, same races, same competitors, same prize money in the same grade.

We think there is an opportunity and a necessity to inject a whole new energy into graded racing by creating a more impactful version of the Owners Bonus Series….

  • Re-branded event / series name

  • Bigger prize pools

  • More hyped events

  • Public trap draws

  • Better trophies and jackets

  • Live compere at the track on finals night

  • Hall of fame wall at the track to showcase the winners

  • Split equally between grades

The exact scale and format of such a new series will obviously depend on budget, and here is where it gets tricky – we are caught between a rock and a hard place.

Here is the dilemma. The right thing to do for the greater good of the sport and the majority of owners would be to re-invest all of the existing £5 per runner money, and the current OBS money, into one large prize money pot (£2m+) which would allow us to create a new Mega Series with 2 graded competitions at each track each month with £7k prize money available for these 2 competitions, as well as a budget for the ‘hype’. This would truly bring back the buzz into graded racing for many, many owners.

However, we are acutely aware that some owners, particularly trainers who own many dogs themselves, would see this as a disaster financially. Re-distributing the £5 could cost some trainers with many owned dogs £5k plus. The big question is how do we deal with this dilemma – protecting a few could mean we don’t make the right decision which could be beneficial to many thousands of individual owners.

Our recommendation is to try and create this huge prize pool, providing we are able to persuade the tracks to contribute the additional £5 run money, on the basis that a new Mega Series would have many benefits to them in terms of increased interest and participation at their track.

If we cannot secure such an agreement, then we recommend a simple re-vamp of the existing OBS, using the existing budget (and therefore NOT tampering with the £5 run money) but having less events (6 per track per year) but with larger prize pools and a budget to make the events feel more special.

Remember these are only the recommendations from the Innovation Panel – they can form the basis of debate for the eventual solution.

The other big topic was syndicates. I have now completed my proposal for a syndicate test scheme. The scheme would cost in the region of £125k and would deliver 100 new syndicates spread across 4 test tracks. On face value this seems expensive but we need to test the best approach. Benefits are significant for the tracks, for trainers (I am recommending a significant increase to trainer daily fees for participating trainers), for bookmakers (many thousands of new customers) and for breeders (possible opportunity to promote British breeding too) This proposal will now be discussed at GBGB and I will attempt to secure a budget for it.

There were many items on the Innovation Panel agenda which we did not discuss – we simply ran out of time. Quite a few owners had sent me ideas for discussion (Gary Noble, Mick Grubb, Bob Oaks, Mark Dangerfield, Roy Brindley, Mike Harrod, Lee Calcott – I haven’t forgotten any of you!)

I am meeting Lord Lipsey later this week which I am looking forward to. Although we are all aware there is some new money coming into the sport, we all know it is not enough to properly re-launch sport. I am keen to understand the strategy and likelihood of securing appropriate levels of funding for the future.

I missed the last GBGB board meeting because I was on holiday. I am keen to ensure the right progress is made with regard to the Green Form debate (euthanasia for economic reasons), the track surfaces debate (who polices it), and the plans for the publication of injury data. I will be writing to Mark Bird for an update on these items because I have a sense that some of them may have moved backwards recently.

Talking of track injury data – it was great to hear that Yarmouth are prepared to publish their data, even of others aren’t. I think we should consider a forum for owners to publish data for their own tracks if we are eventually unhappy with the way data is published in 2018. Let’s wait and see what happens here.

This week I will be writing a document to be presented to the RCPA regarding an owner VIP scheme, as well as ideas on how they can better promote ownership at their tacks.

I hope you can already see small improvements in the level of outbound communications from the GBGB. Particularly the blogs, more social media and of course a Sky interview with Mark Bird. Any suggestions for what else you want to see published or communicated please drop me a note.

That’s it for this week.