You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
It seems the people have spoken.
"Threaten to close our tracks, and we will show you!"
Otago's summer racing circuit is off to a ripping start, with bumper crowds at each meeting so far.
Only the brave would predict Roxburgh and Cromwell racecourses will not be filled to the brim before the circuit is over.
Courses under the threat of closure to thoroughbred racing, like Omakau and Kurow, generally attract good crowds.
However, I am wondering whether a few extra people did not slip through the gates this year, given the future of the tracks are uncertain.
By the look of things, I think they did.
That obviously further demonstrates the passion that has already been on display since these future of these tracks came under threat.
Given the fantastic days out we have seen recently, the argument for keeping the tracks open seems simple.
"With such fantastic support, they must stay open."
That is a comment that I have heard many times as I have travelled to recent meetings.
It is a fair enough claim, but not one I am fully on board with.
I am hoping a level-headed approach can be taken to track closures.
Right now it seems there are petitions and claims from each area that their track must stay.
Now that is something I do not agree with.
Some tracks simply should go.
Some tracks that are slated to close should be kept open.
I hope a good middle ground can be found where the southern South Island will be left with the best number of facilities that will service both racing codes and foster interest in racing and attendance at race meetings.
I think there are two obstacles that are stopping racing administrators from finding that middle ground right now.
The first is that there has been a lack of direction in the procedure around the implementations of the report.
There was a submission process that got everyone motivated.
Complete mystery surrounds what impact those submission will make.
Has anyone even read them?
Here's hoping that the newly appointed RITA group can start to make headway and a clear process for moving forward is established.
It all looks horribly murky right now.
The second thing standing in the way of the sensible rationalisation of racing facilities is self-interest.
It is admirable that every club or track committee is jumping up and down and standing up for their patch.
But it seems while everyone is doing that there are few that are doing so in the best interest of the industry.
Everyone pulling in the same direction sounds romantic, yet practically impossible.
But it is something the southern galloping industry, especially, is going to have to do, because the fine print of the Messara report slashes the number of thoroughbred meetings to be held in Southland and Otago.
It is set to drop from 35 to 22 in six seasons' time.
That sounds scary for the future viability of the code.
Perhaps it something that needs to be discussed on some good common ground?