Weekly racing paper under starter's orders

A weekly national racing newspaper is being launched this month by Stephen Mullen, former editor of The Sun’s racing annuals, backed by advertising company E4 Media.

In 2004 Mullen left The Sun, where he was a staffer on the racing desk for eight years, to become launch editor of the monthly Racing Ahead.

He is now launching weekly sister title Racing Ahead Weekend with six-figure backing.

Based in Penny Lane, Liverpool, Racing Ahead Weekend is produced by the monthly’s existing editorial staff of eight with the help of extra casuals.

The 48-page weekly goes on sale on Saturday 20 October for £1 and will be available at newsagents and supermarkets across the UK. Mullen is initially aiming for a 20,000 circulation, which he hopes will rise to 30,000.

The monthly title sells between 10,000 and 15,000 per month.

In what Mullen claims is a first for a UK publication, Racing Ahead Weekend’s racing cards are printed in time order, so the 2.10 at Goodwood is followed by the 2.20 at Newmarket, for example. This aims to bring to an end ‘constant page turning for time-pressed punters”.

The title’s main rival is the £1.60 Racing Post, which is published seven days a week.

Mullen said: ‘The Racing Post is a paper for horse racers as well as for punters; it’s got to be all things to all people. It has a lot of stuff about bloodstock and training, which brings it up to about 150 pages. Of that, about half of it is relevant to having a bet on that day. We are basically trying to cut away the stuff about the racing industry and stick to what punters need.

‘Our research tells us that readers don’t want to buy one paper on Saturday and another on Sunday –? they prefer the whole weekend’s action in one go.”

Mullen said he wanted to avoid hiring big sporting names and TV personalities to fill his pages. He said that, apart from not having the money to pay for them, they have been ‘done to death’in racing journalism.

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