John Dance Sending Racing Into The 21st Century

By Samantha (@sam_angelina22)

winners and over £1 Million in prize money over the last five seasons.

A lot of racing fans wish they have their own string of racehorses and with Dance’s new project, working with the talented Jay from Trackside Media, racing fans will get the opportunity to experience what it is like to be a racehorse owner through the content shared on the new @DanceThorobreds Twitter Page. “We’ll probably have to give the credit for the idea to Jay at Trackside Media. He was keen to do a project that would help promote racing to a wider, newer and maybe younger audience with behind the scenes content and done in a kind of funky way,

“The idea is that we do more features that are behind the scenes compared to what you’d normally see, so things like some of the parade ring chats we have with the jockeys and post race chats – so what we talk about and what the jockeys tell us etc. Also we’ll show the process of what we go through at the sales and show that to people. Hopefully, over time, we’ll be able to follow horses who we’ve bought at the sales onto the race track and do projects on the breeding side and also horses we’ve bred to the racetrack.”

Within the site and over the course of many seasons to come, every aspect of racing will be covered. There will be features on bloodstock such as how the team decides which stallions to send their mares to, pedigrees and how they work and foaling.

Something Dance spoke passionately about was the importance of stable staff and how they hope to include features on the day to day life of yard staff and the highs and lows of the job to highlight how valuable they are because, “At the end of the day, without them, there would be no show,” he said.

This will allow fans to get up close to the racehorses; see behind the scenes at yards and at the races; showing viewers the career choices racing offers through the videos but, most of all, educate the wider public on the in-and-outs of racing away from the races and what is shown on TV.

Dance believes that the promotion of the sport is down to the racecourses and participants, whether that’s trainers, owners or jockeys – not fully the BHA’s responsibility. “It isn’t necessarily the BHA’s job to promote the sport: it is their job to make sure it is promotable.”

The aim of the project is to help to do just that, “I think that we have a wonderful sport and one of the unique attributes it has, that no other sports do, is you’ve got the great stories behind the scenes.” Dance was part of a great story recently with his nine year old gelding Im Too Generous. The Rebecca Menzies trained horse was off the track for a week short of four years and he pulled up and bled horrifically. He pulled up next time as well but the team persevered and he won a novice hurdle last time out by six lengths. It was an incredible training performance and also hats off to Dance’s team for being so patient with him.

Im Too Generous will be one of the horses featured in the videos, I’m sure, as will their top-class filly Laurens. They bought her for £220,000 in 2016 and she battled on well to win her first ever race in July 2017. She went on to win the Group Two May Hill at Doncaster and then the Group One Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket aged two. It was her three year old season which put her name in lights though. She finished second in the 1000 Guineas and then she went over to France and won two of the top grade one races for Fillies, in May. She later won the Matron Stakes and the Sun Chartiot Stakes beating top Irish filly Alpha Centauri. “For any owners to have a horse like Laurens, to have five group one wins and six group wins whether you’re Godolphin, Judomonte or Coolmore – that’s pretty exceptional and unusual.” You could hear the love in his voice for the filly which is completely expected as she’s took them to three different countries and to some of the biggest meetings. “For little John and Jess Dance, who are fairly new to the game, and not a global operation – it’s amazing really!”

The big wins just kept coming after her first French success, “I thought she’s already won X, Y and Z races and it’s preposterous to think she’ll win another big one. I even thought this going into the French Oaks, the Prix De Diane. PJ [Mcdonald, Laurens’ regular jockey and Dance’s first jockey] rang me and said “How are the nerves?” to me and I said “I’m pretty relaxed actually.” I said to him – ‘We’ve won the May Hill, Fillies’ Mile, come second in the guineas and won the group one Prix Saint-Alary, it doesn’t seem feasible that any horse could come out and win a classic on top of that’.”

And where will we see this super filly next? “The intention is to make a reappearance in the Lockinge in the middle of May. We’re starting to get excited about that and the one we’re keen on going to next is the Queen Anne on the first day of Royal Ascot, the opening race of the meeting.
“From then on, there is a variety of a mile or a mile and a quarter options. We’ll see how the first two races go and then plot a course which is either biased for one mile or biased towards one mile and a quarter races.”

In racing, we’re constantly looking forward to the future and to future stars so I had to pose the question to John about whether he has another Laurens, “We’ve got a handful of unraced three year old and we’ve got two or three that we don’t potentially know how good they could be. Also I’ve got a yearling filly by Kingman and there’s a while to wait to see her on the track or even in training but at the moment she’s just an absolutely beautiful horse.”

It is so incredible to see an owner who is so committed to the sport and wants to make it better and widen the fan base. For me, I think it is a genius idea and this new initiative offers a brilliant access-all-areas transparency which could have the added benefit of strengthening the public’s trust in the welfare of the horses.

I believe that one of the ways racing should be trying to attract new fans is through social media. Hopefully, John and Jay’s new project will help racing step forward into the 21st century and get more people involved in this wonderful sport that we love.

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