Well Done AP! Well Done Racing!

Sun, Dec 19, 2010

Horse Racing

Well Done AP! Well Done Racing!

AP McCoy’s victory in Sports Personality Of The Year was a well deserved recognition of his remarkable achievements. That he should get the vote was beyond question, that he would get it was of course in doubt all the way up to the phonelines closing. It’s a terrific filip to racing to have its greatest star recognised in this way. It’s also a huge credit to the efforts of the much maligned Racing For Change team that it came off.

It shows what is possible when racing folk, instead of being insular and defensive, get on the front foot and sell what they have. The behind the scenes efforts that ensured that all 30 of the sports editors who formed the shortlist for SPOTY had McCoy on their lists were brilliantly effective. This in turn led to a real belief that a racing personality could finally land this high profile award. A lot of people have gleefully nit picked at every initiative that Racing For Change has been involved in. Those people will be dining on humble pie this Christmas, for this was undoubtedly a palpable hit for Rod Street and his team.

Most of all though this success is testament to the very special achievements of a truly extaordinary competitor. He’s an enigma in so many ways, and I’m sure most of us don’t envy him his sacrifice and his graft, but he is a phenomenon and he deserved this accolade.

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8 Responses to “Well Done AP! Well Done Racing!”

  1. Halfway To Nowhere Says:


    Are you suggesting that the clueless, pointless, vaccuous and largely contemptuous Rod Street should suddenly be forgiven his sins because Tony McCoy won what has become a second-rate BBC award?

    Small battles rarely win wars, Sean.

    RFC’s ‘efforts’ were rather remeniscent of the child who tries too hard to be accepted, showing racing to be more desperate than ever to extend itself beyond its inherent, self-interested majority. Were the BOA pushing for victories for Tom Daley and Jessica Ennis to justify their astounding funding requirements? Were the ECB running campaigns for Graeme Swann in a bid to restore cricket’s good name? Were the PDC falling over themselves to offer public support to Phil Taylor in the hope of broadening the appeal of darts?

    I actually feel sorry for McCoy – well, almost – because the award wasn’t for him. RFC couldn’t care less about the name on the trophy; it was a win for racing, pure and simple. Sentiments echoed by Paul Nicholls. How many other sports would think of themselves over and above the achievements of the person receiving the award?

    I hear a resounding ‘Only in Racing!’ from the Don King look-a-like in the corner.

    It’s all quite sad, really. Ignoring the fact that a man plying his trade solely in the United Kingdom shouldn’t be bestowed with such an ‘honour’ ahead of those who compete on a global stage against the best the world has to offer, what is racing going to derive from tonight’s result? Voting numbers would suggest that McCoy hasn’t received much (if any) support from anyone outside of the sport’s existing fan-base, so is victory itself deemed to be of sufficient value to encourage more people to go racing? Do RFC also expect Countryfile’s viewing figures to go up following Matt Baker’s second-place finish on Strictly Come Dancing?

    Tony McCoy is a phenomenon, of that there is little doubt. However, suggestions that his emergence as SPOTY will benefit racing are frankly laughable and the notion that it was a “great result for racing” an insult to the man in question.

    Still, RFC have at least found a new way to piss the sport’s money away with next to no reward.

  2. seanboyce Says:

    ‘the clueless, pointless, vaccuous and largely contemptuous Rod Street ‘
    ‘RFC couldn’t care less about the name on the trophy’
    ‘Voting numbers would suggest that McCoy hasn’t received much (if any) support from anyone outside of the sport’s existing fan-base’
    ‘to justify their astounding funding requirements? ‘
    ‘RFC have at least found a new way to piss the sport’s money away with next to no reward.’

    Blmiey! A number of pretty bold assertions there. Any facts to back any of them up?
    Evidence of Street’s ‘contempt’?,
    evidence that voting numbers tell you anything at all about the total make up of those voting?,
    evidence that any of RfC’s intitiatives (including this one) have anything at all to do with racing’s funding policies?
    Evidence of how much was spent on this?

    I find the criticism of Racing For Change in this instance quite bizarre. They’re doing what they’re tasked with doing. They’re seeking to publicise the sport, to highlight the achievements of its practioners and to attempt to broaden its appeal. They set about maximising the potential of a given situation and they’ve succeeded. It’s a job well done and that’s patently obvious. As far as I’m aware nobody concerned with RfC has claimed that McCoy winning SPOTY will do anything to increase racing’s funding, or to ‘win the war’ whatever that is. They’ve also claimed no credit at all as far as I can see for helping to facilitate what happened.

    McCoy has already been the subject of more media coverage than would have been the case without RfC’s involvement courtesy of the well engineered ‘meet the press’ drive and he will continue to generate more coverage on the back of the award (was on BBC breakfast TV this morning). Will this turn us into a nation of punters overnight? No, of course not. Is it a positive development which raises the sport’s profile, if only briefly? Yes, it clearly is. I don’t see the logic in turning what is clearly a positive into a negative purely because it has failed to solve all of the sports ills at a stroke. Something it never promised to do anyway.

  3. Santiburi Says:

    Wow Sean, good luck with this thread. I suspect there might be quite a few people in HtN’s camp on this one.
    From recollection, AP has been in the final 10 list previously but not won the award as there have been greater personalities on the list.
    I’ve been out of the country and so missed a lot of the build up but was amazed to see the amount of effort that’s been going into trying to get AP the vote this time.
    AP clearly plies his trade in the UK so qualifies for the competition. He is clearly a champ as far as NH racing in the UK is concerned but, when we have sportsmen and women who are world champions and personalities, I find it strange that we should celebrate AP’s victory as anything more than a trivial PR success.
    That Racing is proclaiming this as a victory for the sport is probably closer to the truth in the sense that a lot of time (and I suspect money) has been thrown at this event when Racing is actually fighting for survival. Not sure I can see how this is money well spent.
    I was watching the end of the event last evening with people who like sport; understand a little bit about racing and like the SPOTY event. The consensus seemed to be somewhere between “maybe it wasn’t as good a sporting year for the UK as I thought” and “how did that happen?”
    I concur. Much like Anne Widdecombe being retained in Strictly through the public vote and Wagner in X Factor when they could respectively neither dance nor sing; the SPOTY public vote seems to have been overly moved in favour of AP when Jessica Ennis, G Mac and Westwood are more personable and established winners on the World stage.
    I’m certainly not one to challenge the amazing achievements of AP but, as I think I’ve said on this forum previously, I’d never let him ride a horse I owned again and so I’m biased against him as a jockey anyway and I really don’t regard him as a legitimate SPOTY.

  4. seanboyce Says:

    Who decreed that BBC SPOTY winners have to be winners on a ‘world stage’??? Giggs played for Wales for heavens sakes!
    Why this obsession with what it cost? Where is this huge spend? It doesn’t exist. Neither me, nor ‘Racing’, nor RfC is ‘proclaiming’ anything or claiming any effect whatever for this. I’ve described it as a filip for the sport. The package that was presented on McCoy last night was excellent. The response within the arena to that section was fantastic (only Beckham received a similar ovation). Is it so hard to accept that McCoy was a deserving winner? His achievements were better illustrated, better described and better sold in advance than those he was up against. I would argue his achievements are greater than those he was up against in total too. He’d already been placed in the competition before, this year he won the biggest race in the public conciousness and one of the top TV sporting events of the year. I too thought Westwood and Macdowell would be popular selections, turns out they couldn’t beat Phil Taylor!
    It’s a good story and a lot of people played a part in making it as successful as it could be and that includes RfC. They deserve credit for their role in my view and I’m happy to give it to them.

  5. Santiburi Says:

    As I said Sean, good luck with this thread. Although, more broadly, good luck to the racing fraternity in trying to make this fillip work beyond tomorrow.
    You may not be proclaiming anything but a number of others are and, sorry, but Mr Street is almost delusional in hoping that this result “will be very helpful indeed in getting a shift in mindsets”.
    This is the man responsible seemingly for an initiative that has a large budget: one part of which is spent on an almost unnavigable website that encourages public questions and feedback yet nothing is offered in return.
    AP is a champ. Well done AP. Now let’s move on.

  6. seanboyce Says:

    The ‘mindsets’ that need changing are those that think that marketing and PR are dirty words and will necessarily constitute money badly spent. This is nonsense.
    I’ve made very clear on numerous ocassions what I see as the limitations of racing’s appeal and it’s scope. That doesn’t mean I can’t acknowledge a success when I see one.
    This was, as I say, a palpable hit. It cost peanuts to help support McCoy’s vote, absolute buttons. The outcome is positive. Well done to all involved. It won’t turn Britain into a nation of racing punters but it will do zero harm and probably some good. What’s not to like. I know it’s Christmas and all but the amount of ‘bah, humbug’ is strange.

  7. Santiburi Says:

    Sean, if we all agreed with each other, what fun would be left in life? That would certainly work against betting being a value proposition! FWIW, I’m a strong believer in both marketing and PR as valid business development expenses and so my grouse is somewhat different.
    I didn’t have AP in my first three and I’ve yet to meet anyone in my day job or in my outside work life who knows anything about sports and would have expected AP to win. I therefore suspect that there must have been a small turnout and an abnormal vote for someone from a minority sport and of little significance outside This Sceptred Isle.
    Rod Street getting anywhere close to praise also sticks in my craw as the man promises much and delivers nowt like most of Racing’s administrators sadly.
    Put this situation inside a Christmas context and boy am I grumpy!
    Happy New Year to you.

  8. seanboyce Says:

    True enough. It’s all about opinions.The vote has been published and he won by a landslide. Turnout was big compared to some years. I think there’s no doubt that racing fans turned out in force for their man and that the other contenders didn’t benefit from that sort of concerted effort. Also if you look at the Westwood/G Mac figures the golf vote was split at the expense of both guys probably. I do think you have to remember that the vote is on the night during the prog only. McCoy’s package was very early in the evening and particularly strong, with BBC sport doing him proud in terms of the package they put together. Add in the mobilised racing fan vote and that explains how he won. The input of Rod Street and his team was to make sure McCoy was on the shortlist and to give him the best possible chance of positive coverage in the run up to the programme. That worked. The rest was down to McCoy/racing fans combining with a good chunk of the popular vote I’d guess. Getting that racing vote mobilised meant convincing everyone he was a live runner. That’s where the earlier work with sports editors was so important. It established him as a potential winner and built the platform on which the rest was built. Race sponsorships etc would have cost exactly zero but further emphasised the idea that he could do it and that there was sense of racing getting behind him.
    It was a really well executed PR campaign that did exactly what it set out to do. It wouldn’t have cost a lot of money. It doesn’t solve all of racing’s ills at a stroke, nor has it claimed it will but it was a good job well done and helped to ensure that one of the outstanding sporstmen of my lifetime got a public slap on the back. I struggle to see a downside to that.
    Like you say, it would be a dull old life if we all agreed and I’m quite happy to face the music when others disagree with what I say.
    Happy New year to you too, and happy christmas to you and yours and to everyone who’s contributed here on the blog this year I’ve really enjoyed it.

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