Chris Dixon is approaching the role of joint-manager for Team Arena in the inaugural Racing League with all the professionalism you would expect from someone who has enjoyed a string of successes in his forays into ownership.
The broadcast pundit, who will share the position with his brother Martin, is an integral part of The Horsewatchers syndicate – who have horses with David O’Meara and Mick Appleby, two of their four team trainers along with Michael Dods and Paul Midgley.
Already renowned for their race-planning abilities, the Dixon brothers will be hoping to put their extensive knowledge to good use when the League kicks off at Newcastle on July 29.
“From our point of view, myself and Martin are planning who is going to run where. We have our lists of horses from each yard – trainers have suggested which horses might be suitable, and from that we’ve put what we think might be the best team together,” said Chris.
“You have a limited number of horses for a select number of races – and we have to decide to run what, where. At the minute we are coming up with ideas and suggesting to trainers where they might want to run, and they decide if they are happy to run them.
“Rather than trainers sorting it all out themselves, our job is to liaise among them all.
“I already work for David, helping with his race planning, and Martin helps Mick with his entries now – so we’re both sort of in that role anyway. We know where we are with a good number of horses, and we need to integrate another two yards.”
There will be six races at each of six fixtures, with £50,000 on offer in every race, so the League is offering decent prize money – something Dixon can see the benefit of with his owners’ hat on as well.
“Some horses will have better opportunities outside of the Racing League – but the draw is all the races are worth £50,000, and a lot of these horses running in the League wouldn’t get anywhere near running in a £50,000 handicap,” he said.
“The prize money is a huge attraction from an ownership point of view. We have one of our new horses in the team, and we might transfer another one in later in the League.
“There will be horses involved in the League, and this will be their big aim. We have sprinters trained by Paul Midgley – Paul is our main man for the sprints – but the horses are rated generally in mid to high 70s.
“These horses don’t get to run for £50,000. It’s the same with a lot of our middle-distance horses.
“We’ll see if it takes off. I know people will complain, because it is something different – people always do – but it’s good prize money, and 12-runner races appeal to punters.
“We’ve got enough horses who should be competitive off fair enough handicap marks, but somewhere along the way you might have to fit a round peg into a square hole.
“Hopefully we have all bases covered. Paul will hopefully cover the sprints; Michael has the seven furlong to a mile horses; David has the longer-distance horses, because most of his sprinters are rated too high, while Mick has bits of everything.”