Throughout the 21st century, the reporting of horse racing news has changed significantly. From the days of isolated, inaccessible training yards to the modern world of social media engagement, the demands of a horse racing trainer have changed. The introduction of the internet has seen the emphasis of the sport placed on transparency with its audience. Diminished are the days of tight-lipped coups and gambles, as followers of the sport require further insight into the day-to-day running of the industry.
Since 2010, trainers have adopted a more hands-on approach to their engagement with horse racing fans. Many leading handlers, from both flat and jumps spheres, have moved to report their own news from their stables, through in-depth blogs and videos. These profiles are now offering insight to the training progression of their leading stars, as well as airing pre-race comments for the gambling punter. Such a move has seen an increased interest in horse racing due to the improved clarity between the industry and its customers.
As a result, the reporting techniques from professional horse racing journalists have also changed. There has been a clear transition throughout the early part of the 21st century that horse racing news is quickly moving from print to digital. The launch of various social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook, has forced reporters to progress with the evolvement of digital media. Interviews with trainers and jockeys are quickly turning into video and audio content as the dynamics of sports journalism develop. Whether it be documentaries, podcasts, live streaming or video interviews, horse racing reporting has entered a new age following the second millennium.
However, it isn’t the many forms of content digestion that makes horse racing news great. It is the personalities within the sport that ensure it is so intriguing. The prestige surrounding Ballydoyle stables and the training facilities of trainer Aidan O’Brien has been amongst the most fascinating stories in racing since 1996. The detailed precision of the outfit has seen dozens of champions surface for the powerful Coolmore operation. Outside media inclusion at Ballydoyle comes few and far between, making it one of the most sought-after organisations in the sport. Occasionally, Aidan O’Brien will open his doors to the press as the outside racing community seeks a taste of the immense structure that is Coolmore’s Ballydoyle set-up.
Aidan O'Brien poses at Goodwood.
Jockeys have, too, played a major role in the increased transparency in racing throughout the 21st century. The industry’s largest bookmakers have acted as messengers for riders thanks to weekly blogs from the likes of Frankie Dettori, Ryan Moore and Richard Hughes. This material has acted as pivotal streams of horse racing news for all within the sport as further insight is gained into the best jockeys and their respective mounts. It has also led to certain jockeys becoming household names throughout the country. Frankie Dettori is now deemed the ‘Nation’s Racing Sweetheart’ following years of public appearances and newsworthy moments, making him one of the sport’s most appealing profiles.
There have been a number of stories both on and off of the racecourse that have catapulted horse racing into the mainstream media. The well-documented kidnapping of 1981 Derby champion Shergar sent shockwaves throughout the racing community during the 80’s. The great colt, trained by legendary handler Sir Michael Stoute, was notoriously snatched from his stud in 1983. It led to public uproar as the search for Shergar’s kidnappers began. Ultimately, the Derby victor was never found and it stands as one of the sport’s most notorious stories.
The controversy surrounding Godolphin, one of the world’s richest racing organisations, and trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni’s use of banned anabolic steroids was another historic racing story that greatly affected the industry. The 37-year old was banned for eight years for doping 15 horses in 2013, an event which later changed the landscape of drug-testing through racing stables.
But it is the good, positive news output that horse racing is renowned for. The modern style of race-day reporting has ensured a closer attachment by spectators to the individuals within the sport. This was evident in the retirement of legendary jump racing jockey Sir AP McCoy who hung up the saddle in April 2015. The on-course reporting showcased on his final day of riding was one of unrivalled excellence. Broadcasters Channel 4 produced a magnificent blend of excitement and emotion as one of the greatest of all time brought his professional riding career to a close.
Who could forget the immense journalism that coupled the great Frankel to his retirement in 2012? News outlets from across the world descended upon Ascot on British Champions Day to witness one of the best of his era grace the turf one more time, assisted by legendary handler Sir Henry Cecil. It was an historic event for racing reporting as journalists clambered for the best tag-line for Frankel, ensuring that there was no shortage of impeccable horse racing copy.
Tom Queally riding Frankel.
This cocktail of modern digital media, increased jockey and trainer transparency, and unparalleled on-course excitement makes horse racing, and horse racing news, one of the most thrilling day-to-day beats. The industry’s renowned unpredictability offers a real sense of anticipation as fans search for their digestion of racing news content through a vast variety of strands.