Sunday 16 December 2018

Give credit were it's due as racing is rarely ever Flat

Maybe racing is more competitive than we give it credit for.

I was privileged to be in Croke Park for the All-Ireland football final on Sunday afternoon and while I hoped, like everyone, that we were going to be treated to something similar to both semi-finals, it was indeed a cagey affair that didn't go down awfully well with the purists.

Personally, I enjoyed the tactical battle, but many neutrals left Croke Park disappointed about the game as a spectacle and I'd imagine it looked a lot worse on television.

So there you go... €80 for a ticket, €5 for a programme and you wouldn't have much change - if any - out of €100 if you added in parking and a sandwich, crisps and drink at half-time.

Compare that to the €30 two-day ticket for Irish Champions Weekend and racing looks a fairly competitively priced option for a day out.

Tickets for All-Ireland finals are scare enough and to get a free one you really have to be in the know but there seemed to be plenty of freebies floating around prior to racing at both Leopardstown and the Curragh so a day at the races looks real value if you are getting in for nothing too.

Granted, it helps if you have an interest in horses, but keeping Champions Weekend as the case study, there was plenty of competitive action on show over that weekend and some top class racehorses who were bred in the purple.

Australia may have suffered a shock defeat and dented his claim to be the leading three-year-old around, but many people would say that Diarmuid Connolly is the best footballer in Ireland and there was no sign of him in Croke Park on Sunday so you don't always get the very best on the biggest days, nor do you always get the very best out of the top stars every day, as Paul Durcan and Michael Murphy can relate to.

In fairness to the big race days, there is almost always plenty to do away from the horses as well.

Now, get the suit dry cleaned, have a few bets and enjoy a few sociable drinks and you won't leave a day at the races without spending the guts of €100 or more either, but maybe when people are giving out about paying into these upper end days on the racing calendar they can compare it to the upper end of other sports and rarely will racing disappoint in terms of entertainment like the football final did for some last Sunday.

Yes, some of the ordinary racedays can be very ordinary but didn't the Sunday Game panel of experts reflect on how poor the football championship was this season? Hard to say this current Flat season hasn't been entertaining, similarly last season's jump season, and it's probably safe to say, this winter won't be too boring either.

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