First of all, it was great to have harness racing back in business last week, and it was obvious by the mood, and the looks on the faces of the participants, that the passion was still there.
Unfortunately, that emotion appears to cut no ice with our current Industry leaders, who are determined to dumb down our product as much as possible. For the past few months we have heard how the disinterest of successive governments, and ill-informed decisions made by people with little knowledge of racing, have crippled our supplier of funding, the TAB, leaving it totally vulnerable and unable to cope with the pandemic.
Now, it seems, allegedly with no choice, the same poor decisions are being made in regard to the promotion of our Industry, with plans to de-humanise on-course betting and close betting outlets, and the decimation of Trackside. It’s been promised that we will have on-course presenters for the big events, however the way things are heading, there will be no-one of any quality to perform such tasks. To hear that people of the knowledge, experience and, most of all, passion that the likes of Greg O’Connor, Dave MacDonald and Maryanne Twentyman possess are being let go, to be replaced by cloned cardboard cut-outs that repeat the last words of the race commentator with no idea what they are talking about and read out dividends, is simply destroying any chance of us working our way out of the difficult times we face. Just more poor decisions on top of the old ones.
Still, could be worse. At least Mr Peters and his throrough-bred breeding buddies will be able to stare at the multi-million dollar white elephant synthetic tracks as they fall into disrepair because no-one can afford their upkeep, and they won’t care, because they will still be able to sell their overpriced yearlings to Australians with bulging wallets, and race their horses with the ex-kiwi trainers that have moved across the Tasman.
I can’t help but wonder if syphoning off a couple of million of those dollars to support Trackside, might not be better for future turnovers than building flash tracks, that Mr Messara himself in his report, admits will reduce turnover in the short term at least!
“Make racing great again’ – yeah right. But what do I know.