This week #AscotAsks our Head of Communications and International Racing, Nick Smith about his career in racing and the international horses we can expect to see at this year’s Royal Ascot.
Name: Nick Smith
Location: Ascot Racecourse
Occupation: Head of Communications and International Racing at Ascot Racecourse
1. Nick, how did you first get involved in racing?
I did the BHA (then BHB) Graduate Scheme and ended up working for the Daily Mail for a while with Marcus Townend and Colin Mackenzie… I’d wanted to do nothing else since getting hooked during the “Salsabil” flat season. I never got over her getting beaten in the Arc.
2. Could you explain what the “International Racing” part of your job entails?
Throwing a huge amount of darts to get as many people as possible interested in running horses at Ascot, knowing that 95% of the work ends in disappointment – losing Curren Chan and Curren Black Hill from Japan was a real blow, plus Foxwedge. In the end when we get a team as strong as this year over, headed by Nelly of course, it’s all worth it.
3. What is the importance of having international horses run in the UK?
For Ascot it is a fundamental part of our brand. We are Europe’s flagship international racecourse and Royal Ascot is the country’s premier race meeting.
4. Last week Australia’s famous mare, Black Caviar, landed here in the UK. Could you briefly explain what her journey from home to Royal Ascot will be?
30 hours tullermarine airport to heathrow via Singapore and sharjah and about another 30 hours on the m25 to newmarket! Then its 6 hours round trip from Newmarket to ascot for a horse box.
5. What international horses can we expect to see at Royal Ascot this year?
Black Caviar, with The Diamond Jubilee Stakes her target, heads the international cast for this year’s Royal Meeting. Compatriot, Ortensia, arrived in the UK shortly after winning the Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai and she is being aimed at The King’s Stand Stakes.
Bahrain-trained Krypton Factor, winner of the Dubai Golden Shaheen on World Cup night before disappointing on unsuitable ground in Singapore, will lock horns with Black Caviar in The Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
To view the full list of international horses, Click Here.
6. Are there many opportunities for international horses to compete against each other, for example, specific competitions?
Competitions are difficult in racing. The Global Sprint Challenge is a mechanism to promote the world’s top sprints and there’s a US$ 1 million bonus for winning three races in three different countries. But really it is a marketing tool. QBCS in this country is similar – the races are linked for marketing purposes, but there is no champion horse as such.
7. What is the highlight of your international racing calendar?
Royal Ascot is what it is all about for me. It’s the best racing in the world and the focus of my international calendar. I genuinely enjoy it, even with the pressure and demands, more than any of the many trips I make each year. Of those trips the most important are my round the world trip in February and the Dubai World Cup in March, plus the double header of the Melbourne Cup and Breeders’ Cup in November. Hong Kong in December and indeed Singapore in May are becoming more and more important every year too.
8. In a dream situation whereby you could take a year from work to travel the world racing, what would be your route?
J&B Met in Cape Town in January; Lightning Stakes at Flemington in February; Dubai World Cup in March; Kentucky Derby and Singapore Cup in May; Belmont Stakes and Royal Ascot in June; Deauville, Saratoga and the Arlington Million in July and August – the King George at Ascot, July Cup, Glorious Goodwood and the Ebor Meeting at York of course too; British Champions Day and the Arc in October – and the Canadian International; Breeders’ Cup, Melbourne Cup and Japan Cup in November; Hong Kong Internationals in mid December and finish up at the Arima Kinen at Nakayama on Christmas Day.
9. For someone wishing to get into the racing industry abroad, how would you suggest doing so?
Make contacts and know racing at home and abroad inside out. Don’t guess. You can’t bluff racing.
10. Finally, what are you most looking forward to at Royal Ascot 2012?
Black Caviar of course, but I would love Stephanie’s Kitten or any of Ken Ramsey’s American team to give him the Royal Ascot win he has always dreamed of.