Turn it up!

Monday's dual code meeting appeared to me to be a raging success.

It is fair to say the field was not littered with champions, but that did not matter.

There was good, competitive racing, and an excellent crowd flocked to Wingatui.

It looked like a win for Messara Report backers, who want racecourses to shut.

Yet again, the Beaumont Racing Club hosted a successful race day away from its home area.

Many of the crowd appeared to be Beaumont folk, who were there to support their local club and enjoy a once-a-year trip to the races.

It seemed the 100km trip from their home town was not enough to stop them doing that.

I have written about this plenty of times before - it seems simple that the Beaumont model could work for other clubs, who are facing their courses being closed.

Monday was no different from this year's highly successful Tapanui Cup day at Gore and the Wyndham Cup meeting at Gore.

So, what are the key ingredients in making a race day work away from home?

The obvious one for me is that these three clubs are highly engaged with their home communities.

Each managed to attract a good number of patrons from the home areas to the racetracks out of their area.

It is not hard to pick a once-a-year race-goer out.

Once the crowd was there, they were looked after with good hospitality and had good racing to watch.

That does not simply mean we should close all the strong clubs that work hard to make their race meetings work.

However, it must give good hope to those clubs facing track closures.

There is one strong factor that the three clubs I have used as examples do not have that some of the other affected clubs do have.

None of those clubs pulled holiday crowds before they were moved.

I think the holiday dollar and the holiday racing scene needs to be judged slightly differently.

These are not so much community-focused events; instead they are filled with tourists and holiday makers.

There is an entirely different dynamic to the summer holiday race days.

I advocate for the closure of some Southern racetracks.

I also hold the opinion that it is better to shut tracks now than have the advancement of racing stymied by bickering over which tracks to save.

However, I can definitely see where there could be big potential losses.

The long-range plan from New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing suggests three tracks that hold holiday racing should close.

Some of those meetings have highly significant crowd numbers and turnover.

Add the figures from Waikouaiti, Kurow and Omakau together and the question is: is that something southern racing can afford to gamble with?

It's almost guaranteed one or two of these tracks will close, regardless of what kind of reprieves are able to be negotiated.

The question is how these clubs will be assisted in transitioning to another venue.

Will they pick up a holiday crowd from a little further down the road?

Or will their regular race-goers simply go find other holiday activities?

The gamble to taking a holiday meeting to another track could work.

Big crowds and healthy turnover that have built up over decades are two massive chips to put on the gambling table.

The question is what will be done to mitigate the potential losses.

Losing those two chips is something Southern racing simply can not afford.

Happy trails.

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