The Racing Horse has never liked trainer Mark Johnston as a person or a trainer and we like him less this morning. We have always thought him an arrogant bore and bore and he confirmed those sentiments with his suggestion that ITV should get rid of all coverage of betting when it takes over the terrestrial racing reins from Channel 4 in 2017.
Johnston's plea for the media generally to give less coverage to betting, aired at a Go Racing in Yorkshire press event on Monday, has been largely drowned out by a cacophony of dissenting voices. Much of it was on social media, while the Racing Post has been inundated with opinion on the subject of television coverage of the sport.
Racing could easily afford to lose Johnston
One of those dissenting voices is ours and we ask what racing world does Johnston live in? We suggest he concentrates on training and CARING for his horses and not spout silly and controversial nonsense and remind him that punters and racegoers are the most important people in horse racing and certainly not the likes of him! Racing could easily afford to lose Johnston but racing could not afford to lose punters and racegoers! Fact.
Of course what Johnston advocates is total gibberish. Can you imagine ITV giving it any consideration? The broadcaster has not paid £30m for a four-year monopoly on racing coverage because they think it is an aesthetic physical item or an artistic creation they have paid £30m because they expect to make a great deal more from exploiting the rights and by selling advertising slots to bookmakers and others associated with it.
A long way away from the the 10p win yankee!
One would think a man of Johnston’s intelligence, 30 years with a trainer’s licence and having been a director of the BHA would have appreciated that. Clearly he still fails, or refuses, to grasp the concept, perhaps it is because he is underpinned by sovereign wealth. A large proportion of his horses and winners are owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed al-Maktoum, the son of Sheikh Mohammed and the crown prince of Dubai. These people are a long way away from a 10p win yankee.
Beyond laughable - Simon Clare
Simon Clare of Coral described Johnston's remarks as ‘beyond laughable’ and pointed out that as the majority of viewers have either placed a bet or intend to, with the coverage reflecting the fact in the most compelling and relevant way possible. Clare continued: “While ITV may look to present the betting element in a different way I would be amazed if it doesn't form an important element of the coverage." His view was shared by David Williams of Ladbrokes, who correctly added: " Whether or not folk particularly like it, the primary attraction to the sport for the public is through betting."