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Hat’s off to Trackside

NZ Harness Trainers & Drivers Assn
Published by Pete Cook in News · 22 November 2019

As we all know the Racing Board, or RITA, or whatever, is fighting an uphill battle to restore racing to its’ former glory. They have, and will always have, their critics because, as with any organisation in this game, there are people who agree with what they do, and those who disagree. Trust me, we involved in the Trainers & Drivers know that only too well!

However, there is one aspect of the Industry that it would take a very grumpy, even unreasonable, person to criticise, and that’s Trackside. The perfect example of what that organisation can achieve is the coverage Trotting Cup day – it is difficult to imagine how it could be improved, although they keep trying. It is pretty obvious that, in harness racing anyway (I rarely watch gallops), the presenters have a good rapport and not only enjoy a mutual respect with Industry participants, but enjoy their work. Consequently, the information and entertainment they provide is about as good as it gets. I’m sorry, but with all due respect to Jason Bonnington and Brittany Graham, the concept of them scrambling around at the start interviewing drivers is not only a bad look, but puts those being interviewed in a difficult position – that’s if you can hear what they’re saying! I mean asking a driver if his or her charge has warmed up well…..we’re all waiting for one of them to say ‘know it feels like s…t – don’t back it! While our presenters do that on occasions (actually come to think of it, I seem to recall one of the drivers expressing little enthusiasm for the horse he was warming up), having them ‘mic’ed up’ and asking them about all their drives for the day is invaluable and has to create turnover. It was great to see some of our leading drivers, who have been, and still are, under huge pressure, agree to be interviewed once again.

And let’s not forget the helmet cam pictures giving the viewer some idea what’s it’s like to sit behind a horse in the middle of a field. Just stunning!

Live television is always fair game for criticism, and like us all, it is subject flaws and mistakes, but there is no question that we are very fortunate to enjoy the quality and coverage or racing that we do in this Country, and hopefully those continually firing bullets at the Racing Board (RITA) for spending money will take a moment to acknowledge that. It doesn’t come cheap, and it well worth fighting to retain.

Pete Cook

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