For those of us who have been around harness racing for a long while, this current situation might be bringing back some long buried memories.
Back in the days when following the races meant either going to the track, or listening to piece – meal coverage on the radio, there used to be a strange phenomenon known as the Winter break. Believe it or not (and even for the ancients among us it’s hard to fathom the reasons behind it, except that it was colder and wetter), standard-bred racing in New Zealand used to end after the Nelson/Blenheim circuit in the middle of June and not resume until what was quirkily known as the ‘Pork and Pickles’ Kurow meeting in early August.
In other words, there were six weeks with no racing at all – sound familiar? How did trainers survive financially during those weeks – apart from going to the Gold Coast for a couple of them?
How on earth did the diehard ‘trotting’ (as it was known then) fans survive, without going stir crazy – there wasn’t even any internet in those days! I can still remember the feeling of anticipation when August came around, with better horses fronting up at the ‘National’ meetings at Addington (you know the ones where it was essential that a Cup horse be racing at), after one or two trials. What horses performed in a fresh state, which ones had done the most work, all those factors had to be taken into account before we eagerly parted with our hard earned betting money that had been lying idle for weeks. The big question is, will the current hiatus create the same mood of excitement when we get going again?
I guess it could go either way, there could be a resurgence of interest after a break from the week in, week out racing that we have become accustomed to since the advent of Trackside, or the casual followers might have found other things to do and will never return. For the sake of the future of
harness racing we have to hope it is the former, because we in need of every fan and every betting dollar we can get.