The British Horseracing Board may be a stuffy old organization but at least they are trying to do something about injecting new life into a flagging industry.
Racing For Change is a project to be welcomed not least because a number of its proposed changes were suggested by your humble writer in the first place. One area where it did fall short, though, was in its efforts to inject new, erm, talent into the sport.
So well done to bookmaker Victor Chandler for hiring Vicky Haig as his new Horseracing Ambassador – hers is exactly the sort of face horseracing needs to help strengthen the appeal of the sport.
Sex sells. The bank accounts of Paris Hilton and Pamela Anderson will testify to that, and while other sectors of the gambling have fully embraced the hottie, in this regard racing has been left in the stalls.
Poker, for example, is becoming increasingly popular among the younger generations, partly because it is creating teenage millionaires, partly because of its accessibility and partly because more and more honies are coming to the tables than a night at the casino with Hugh Hefner.
Okay, maybe not quit that many. But the fact is, Shana Hiatt, Shannon Elizabeth and the simply peerless Joanna Krupa can all be seen on televised events: horseracing boasts John McCririck and Clare Balding.
Don’t get me wrong, Balding is a smooth and knowledgeable racing presenter but it was kind of ironic that she of all people had the audacity to tell jockey Liam Treadwell that now that he had won the Grand National he could get his teeth done. It’s a quip that would have worked coming from a Krupa but coming from Balding was a bit like being told not to play away by Tiger Woods.
Although she has done some modelling Vicky Haigh is not quite in Krupa’s league (frankly, who is?) but she combines good looks with a strong racing background. She has been an amateur jockey and trainer, and was given the VC job after contacting to the Gibraltar-based bookmaker with ideas on how to make horseracing more appealing to women and younger customers. BHB, take note, there are women out there with looks, initiative and racing knowledge but they won’t always come to you.
‘My official title is horseracing ambassador,” says Haigh, who will represent VCbet on northern racecourses and appear on the TV racing channels. “It is a new challenge for me and Victor has given me a great opportunity.”
Let’s hope she grasps it with both hands. (Easy now…)