Spare a thought for one of the nice guys of the game Carl Markham, who has recently taken over the reins at the Methven Trotting Club, and to date has had two meetings transferred to other venues through no fault of the Club. This morning (at time of writing) he found out that Covid-19 had surfaced in Christchurch on the eve of their third meeting. The wait for the (thankfully) 1 o’clock announcement of no change from Level 2 must have been agony.
The difference between regions in harness racing in this Country has never been better demonstrated than this weekend. The Methven meeting alone had more nominations than the Southland and North Island meetings put together, and then on top of that, we cop a mind-blowing 16 races at Kaikoura (well sadly for the local township, Addington). The big plus for the enforced meeting transfer of venue, is that far more horses can line up at the big track. The glaring exception is the Group 3 Majestic Son South Bay Trotters Cup with a field of just seven, meaning only two place dividends. Should we be surprised at this, when the race is programmed for R60 – R110 off the front (which includes a last start winner of the Ashburton 1700m and a Group winner), and the highest rated horse in the Country only 10 metres behind? Who in their right mind is going to line up a horse rated in the 60’s or 70’s given that scenario!
Speaking of programming, the Association has been pushing for sometime to have the lower stake meetings select their fields from the lowest rating up, and the better meetings from the top down, when there are two meetings over a weekend. We are continuing to pursue this, because it makes sense to most people.
Another matter we are chasing up is the disappearance of TC02 test results from the new RIB website. This is information which trainers should have available. Watch this space.
One suggestion we made last year has had a good outcome, that was for Ashburton to move their sprint race start point back to 1700 metres. Feedback from drivers and media coverage of the sensational times has been most positive. Just shows what a bit of tinkering outside the square can achieve.