We pride ourselves on having amazing members from very diverse backgrounds and demographics, and we feel blessed to have some of the nicest and most genuine people I have encountered in my professional career.
New members regularly comment on how welcome they feel, and how inclusive the community is, and I take real satisfaction that we have created a club that while, doesn’t always have winners, is still seen as a positive experience for anyone and everyone who takes the plunge into The Crowd.
Racing Twitter and other social platforms such as TikTok can be toxic and thoroughly horrible places to have discussions and interact with other racing "fans".
This fact was a big motivation behind introducing the app to allow racing's "good folk" to follow the horses they are involved in, without fear of abuse or exposure to the vitriol that can be circulated whenever something isn't as "billy bettor boy" thinks it should be.
Why is this relevant? Why now?
Most of you will now be aware that on her first start since leaving our colours and community, ONE OF OUR OWN won on Saturday night.
In the colours and ownership of the Rebecca Menzies Racing Club.
This triggered a meltdown on a massive scale by a small number of our community.
The filly was running for the first time in a 0-55 race, she was back on the ground we had been trying to get for her all year; and she ran in first-time cheekpieces, all off a career-low mark.
She won, it was close but she won.
And I am delighted for Bex and the team, and I am delighted for Stuart and the team who bred her, and of course, I am gutted it wasn’t in our colours.
I also can feel the frustration for those who have invested in the filly and for those who follow her via the Gold and Green Crowd, but letting her move on was the only decision that made sense and she needed to go.
Bex recommended we bought the filly; she has always liked her, and while OOOO can get intimidated in her races when crowded, she does try. Too many don't try. Despite Bex's recommendation, I couldn't make the numbers work without support from members and as I said, the interest in keeping her wasn't strong enough. For what its worth, I still think we made the right call.
So, Stuart had to sell the filly and we weren’t going to buy her, so who am I to ask Bex not to?
Bex thought she had a buyer and so did Stuart, but both fell through and ultimately Bex bought the filly and ended up with her running for her new racing club.
This was all very transparent, I was well aware of the transaction and while we all had the confidence that ONE OF OUR OWN would win races, the cost to keep her means she needs to win 8/9 like Saturday in the next 12 months to make it viable.
Everything she needed to go for her did on Saturday. She wasn’t crowded and in a field of 18 that is astonishing, she had her ground and the ones up front went too fast and came back to her. She has ran 4 (probably 5) races better than the rating she posted on Saturday but they were placed runs, she wasn’t bad for us, she just wasn’t lucky.
Saturday was not her best performance but was her best result.
Maybe the gold and green silks add an extra 5lbs?
So where is this going?
We lost a small number of members on Saturday.
Not because they quit in anger; or decided we were not good enough.
We lost them as they decided it was appropriate to accuse Rebecca of cheating, of stopping the filly so she was cheaper to buy and running off a lower mark to win. They felt it was appropriate to use language that was beyond offensive and carried a level of threat that I can't ignore.
How anyone who follows racing can think such an elaborate plan could be hatched and executed is beyond belief.
Attempts to reason with them were met with more nastiness and accusations and frankly, if these individuals actually believe what they said, why would they want to be connected to this community anyhow?
We do not and never will tolerate any abuse on our platform.
That is abuse of any other member, any trainer, jockey or anyone in fact. It just isn’t what we are about.
Is this me censoring free speech?
I honestly don’t care.
If free speech is what I had to read and listen to on Saturday, I will censor it.
Opinions are great and we encourage opinions but if these opinions are inappropriate and offensive, the deliverer of such opinions will be removed.
I work long and hard hours and I feel privileged to run this company, and I will always fight to make it the best it possibly can be.
I feel I am lucky to have this as a job, and I get a buzz from the good days and I try to manage the disappointments as best I can. But let's face it, it is tough enough without the kind of interaction that was experienced over the weekend.
I will not and can not entertain such behaviour again.
I feel privileged to work with and for the 99.8% of our members who are fantastic, and will continue to strive to push that up to 100%!