Ruby Walsh: There's far more to racing than gambling

It's only nine more sleeps till horse racing returns to action at Naas on June 8 and four more before Siskin will bid to win the Irish 2,000 Guineas for Ger Lyons at the Curragh on Friday week.
Ruby Walsh: There's far more to racing than gambling
Racing action returns to the Curragh in a couple of weeks time

It's only nine more sleeps till horse racing returns to action at Naas on June 8 and four more before Siskin will bid to win the Irish 2,000 Guineas for Ger Lyons at the Curragh on Friday week.

The following afternoon Albigna will throw her hat into the ring for Jessica Harington in the 1000 Guineas and thus, in the space of eight days, starting next Friday at Newmarket, the sport will have roared back into action with a bang.

I can’t believe it’s only a week until Pinatubo will go to start a warm favourite on the Rowley Mile for the British 2000 Guineas or that we are six days away from the relocated Coronation Cup at Newmarket or that in two days the stalls will fly open at Newcastle to mark racing’s return in the UK.

That action in the north east of England will be supplemented by the first set of Guineas to run in the next fortnight, as Deauville hosts the French versions.

Strange as it may seem, the fact that all these Classics are being run of so close together will surely throw up the prospect of mighty clashes further down the line.

Dates are starting to trickle out for the Premier League’s return, rugby is considering all sorts of changes to its game to see if it can get moving again whilst the PGA has a schedule in place from June 11, though doubts still linger about the Ryder Cup.

Some players and coaches in all of those sports have taken a little convincing about the way to move

forward, doubts are still being raised and questions asked but every organisation is now looking at the bottom line and boundaries are starting to be pushed.

Racing is one of the lucky ones and it got lucky because everyone involved in this industry has been pulling in the one positive direction since the lockdown commenced.

For obvious reasons, people in the industry have been going about their daily lives in much the same way as they always did.

The one difference has been that there was no aim or endgame, just the day-in, day-out task of cleaning, training, riding, and feeding the animals they love.

Some of you will think people in the horse racing industry have been cavalier in their approach to the coronavirus and that horse racing thinks it had an entitlement to keep going when others were locking themselves down.

More of you will think that’s it purely a sport to fund the big gambling companies and other will think it’s just a playground for the rich.

I can’t really change the way people view it but I can certainly explain that it’s an industry no different to any other.

Horse racing is entitled to nothing, just like the rest of the world, but it is willing to work its socks off to gain as much as it can.

A lot of the businesses in the industry would have very little capital reserves and are never going to be floated on the Dow Jones.

Freelance, self employed, and minimum wages are words best used to describe a sizeable portion of the industry’s staff force.

Lots of people do like to have a wager on it, in the same way lots of us enjoy a drink, and they both carry the same dangers in that, when they are done excessively, the fallout can be devastating.

However, horse racing is not the sole place for people to gamble and, sadly for those with gambling issues, the

lockdown has not stopped people finding opportunities to gamble.

Nor did the lockdown cease the trade of alcohol.

Racing is inherently linked with gambling and I am an ambassador for Paddy Power, but gambling can also do what it was supposed do and that’s be fun.

By all means the pressure has to be on the gambling companies to help and stop those with issues, just like the

responsibility is on publicans to enforce alcohol guidelines, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop everybody.

Like every other single sport or industry the world over, racing needs the investment of wealthy people.

The fans didn’t make Manchester City the club they are now nor did Chelsea just get lucky with a group of homegrown academy players.

Racing has forever been titled the sport of kings, but their investment at the top makes everything down the chain turn. Like it does in all walks of life.

I can’t change anyone’s opinion of this great sport, but it’s just about the only live action available right now.

It will be on RTÉ 2 from Friday week and each weekend until July. Tune in, there’s a hell of a lot more to it than a lot of people realise.

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