The Border Post | Horse Racing Blog | Cartmel | Kelso Racecourse

The Weekly Blog

The Value of Dreams

I gave my friend an elephant for her room. She said thanks, but I said, “Don’t mention it.”

I keep reading that prize money is the most important thing, and that there isn’t enough of it, but that’s not the whole story. There are quite a few races with huge amounts of prize money that don’t have full fields – which means that something else must be going on too.

I’m not saying that prize money isn’t important – clearly the return that racehorse owners receive through prize money is a major factor in how much they can reinvest in the future. If the cost of participation is high, and the financial return relatively low, there clearly needs to be another significant benefit to be gained that makes up the difference: something akin to achieving a dream.

It’s difficult to quantify the value of that dream, but I’m going to try – because some stark facts were brought home to me this week with the publication of the entries for next months’ Cheltenham Festival handicap races. The bet365 Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso, on 2nd March, and the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, on 15th March, are both 2-mile handicap hurdles. While Cheltenham’s race has a prize fund of £100,000, the Morebattle is worth 20% more with £120,000 of prize money.

It costs £500 to enter a horse in the County Hurdle and (at £350) 30% less to enter the Morebattle. If value for money was the only factor, shouldn’t we expect many more entries for the bet365 Morebattle Hurdle than the County Hurdle? Yet the Cheltenham race attracted almost double the number of entries: 74 compared to our 40.

None of this is a surprise. The Cheltenham Festival is where dreams are made. Everyone with a jumps horse wants to win a race there; even having a runner is an achievement.

The Shunter, winner of the £100k bonus

So how does one go about developing an event which sits in the shadow of such a behemoth? Well, the first thing is that, rather than compete, we complement. We dangle an additional bonus of £100,000 for the winner of the bet365 Morebattle Hurdle if they can double up by winning at the Cheltenham Festival. The bonus creates a talking point for our race, while adding even more to the narrative of the Festival. You see – it’s both complimentary and complementary.

Secondly, we host. The connections of each runner will be invited to a dinner at the Schloss Roxburghe Hotel on the eve of the race. We’ll share a delicious meal, enjoy a lot of excited chat, and drink a toast to the race. The sense of anticipation will add fuel to their dreams – dreamt in the luxury bedrooms of one of Scotland’s finest hotels.

Finally, every year we create more atmosphere. Following a significant marketing campaign to support the event, we’ve already sold more than twice the number of advance tickets than we sold last year. We may never attract a crowd the size of the one attending Murrayfield this weekend (Flower Of Scotland is our selection at Newcastle), nor that which attends Cheltenham in March – but like the racehorse owners that attend both our racecourses, we can dream.

1 Comment The Value of Dreams

  1. Andy

    Beautifully written. Looking forward to experiencing kelso for the first time. Up from south coast of England for a great day racing

Comments are closed.