The deadline to resolve the hotly contested Levy issue isn’t until Oct. 31, but both the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and UK bookmakers have already donned their most gruesome Halloween masks in an attempt to scare the other side into backing down. The latest figure to yell ‘Boo!’ is Racehorse Owners Association president Paul Dixon, who stated that horse-folk should seek to “exert maximum harm on bookmakers.”
Dixon isn’t buying the bookmakers’ claims that horseracing is but a pale shadow of its former importance to their bottom lines. Thus Dixon suggests some kind of strike action is advisable, in the hope that the resulting non-racing days “would inflict significant harm on their business.”
In response, William Hill CEO Ralph Topping suggested that Dixon’s bluster was just the latest example of “racing’s leaders shooting themselves in both fetlocks.” Topping rejected Dixon’s notion that a work stoppage would significantly impact the books, and dismissed the proposal as ‘clueless desperation’. Twisting the knife a little further, Topping labeled horseracing as “the only sport in Britain outside of tiddlywinks that hasn’t advanced in recent years.”
Continuing this line of rational discourse, Bookmakers’ Committee chair Will Roseff described the BHA’s approach as the result of living too long in “cloud-cuckoo land.” With their hooves well and truly dug in, it seems inevitable that Jeremy Hunt, secretary of Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, will have the unenviable task of playing Solomon when the calendar switches over to November 1.