There’s a spat taking place at the moment over the colours worn by horses in the ownership of Qatar Racing Limited, a company owned by Qatari Sheikh Fahad Al Thani and his brothers. They have registered a set in claret, with gold braid and a gold tassel on the hat, with the British Horseracing Authority. This has upset owner Mark Dixon, who claims that the colours clash with his set – crimson with silver braid.
The sheikh’s racing manager, David Redvers, had tried to buy Dixon’s set from him, but he was not selling at any price. Dixon is annoyed that the BHA has approved and almost identical design, and, he claims, have bent the rules in allowing Qatar Racing Limited to include braid in their design.
Dixon says his colours have been in the family for many years. They were carries to Oaks success by Bireme in 1980, when they were registered to his late uncle, Dick Hollingsworth. But the family connection goes back much further than that.Dixon said, “Mine are very old silks – my grandfather bought them in 1930 – and I think they could be described as heritage colours. It is my understanding that nobody has been allowed braid or a tassel since 1970, but Qatar Racing has basically been given the identical colours.”
Redvers was quick to play down any problems, and said that he had told Dixon he would always have a spare cap with him in a different colour so that it would be easy to identify the different horses if both had runners in the same race. He acknowledged the help given by the BHA to the sheikh, whom he described as a major new owner and investor in the sport in Britain.
Perhaps that’s the real rub for Dixon. The Qatari team are the major force behind QIPCO and the British Champions’ Series. Does he feel that the BHA are being particularly supportive of anything Sheikh Fahad wants and disregarding its own rules and traditions?
For their part, the BHA was playing a straight bat yesterday. Spokesperson Robin Mounsey said, “The rules of racing state that the BHA has discretion to approve or decline any application for a set of colours. It was felt that crimson and claret, when correctly reproduced according to their pantone reference, are sufficiently distinctive. In addition, the different colour braiding applies further differentiation.” I wonder how the course commentators will fare in driving rain when the horses are at the far end of Goodwood!
It’s what Mounsey then went on to say that leads to the conclusion that there could be a grain of substance in Dixon’s complaint. Mounsey added, “The decision to exercise discretion and approve a non-standard design was considered to be in the best interests of the sport, while acknowledging there was sufficient difference with existing shades and designs.”
Matt, what’s the background to the Geegeez colours?