Next week sees a Special meeting of Clubs and Kindred Bodies to decide whether or not to move the birthday of standardbreds in the Country from 1 August to 1 January, arguably one of the most momentous changes in the Industry for decades.
The Trainers & Drivers National Council has fully supported this idea since it was floated late last year, and will be voting for it at next weeks’ meeting. It’s difficult to come up with any significant reasons why the change should not be adopted, and there are so many advantages.
It will extend our breeding season so that foals born after 1 January are no longer disadvantaged by becoming weanlings the following August (there will be no change to the breeding season). Hopefully this will encourage a much needed increase in breeding numbers.
It will mean that our big staked end of season races will be held in warmer temperatures, which will be a happy result for all concerned, although this year we have been extremely lucky weatherwise (fingers crossed for the Jewels day.)
It will hopefully deter the inevitable exodus of our young horses who, without the change would make the most of an extra five months in their age group racing across the Tasman.
Since the change in their calendar, Australian harness racing has seen significant rises in turnover on major age group races, and hopefully that will be replicated here.
A topic close to my heart will also benefit, in that two year olds will be more mature and therefore physically more able to handle the frenetic pace of racing today. As it happens, the only current two year old races before Christmas are a couple of heats of the Young Guns series, so there will be little change there anyhow.
I’ve heard a couple of comments that we are always following Australia which, in fact is wrong on two counts. Firstly, thankfully we did not follow them when they made their ill-fated decision to ban whips a couple of years ago, without any consultation, and they actually followed our example in regards to adopting a points handicapping system. Secondly, until they did make the change, it was only Australasia and New Zealand who didn’t relate their racing season to the yearly calendar in the entire World.
Who the hell decided to make the horse’s birthday in the middle of the year anyway? Hopefully common sense will prevail and we will finally fall into line with every other jurisdiction.