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In the space of a few hours this week I saw how the only way to fix the racing industry is from the ground up.
Firstly, I heard from the Southern Harness organisation and how it has formed a race meeting on Sunday.
If you did not see my story in yesterday’s paper, here is a quick synopsis.
Southern Harness and the Winton club pored over the turnover from recent meetings and picked apart the trends from each of its most-supported races.
They took those trends to form the programme for Sunday’s meeting.
And they did it because, basically, they are sick and tired of seeing turnover decline.
It is a pretty awesome concept if you ask me. John Earl and his team need to be congratulated for driving this concept.
I believe the move alone, regardless of how successful Sunday’s meeting is, is a significant step in signalling to clubs in both codes that they can drive success themselves.
Now, more than ever, that is an important messages. Promises of reform and revitalisation remain totally unfulfilled.
Earlier this week, some progress was made in Parliament towards delivering on those promises.
They may well bring strong reform that brings money to racing.
But, as I have said before, we are still here waiting for something to happen as the industry declines.
The people and groups such as Southern Harness and the Winton club are those that should be applauded.
The people and groups that are sitting back waiting for Racing Minister Winston Peters’ reforms to fix the industry’s problems should be delivered a reality check.
The racing product is the most crucial part of making the industry money. All levels of the industry have a responsibility to deliver it.
It seems those at the coal face are doing their best to provide the product that is required. That is why trainers have their horses fit and healthy and they abide by strict welfare and integrity rules.
It seems some clubs are doing their best to deliver an entertainment product and there are some fine examples of that on the southern Christmas-New Year circuit.
Others clubs could do more; it is obvious which ones they are.
The job of the industry’s management and governing sector is to provide a place for the racing product trainers, owners and clubs provide to thrive. And to help market, promote that product and make it highly accessible.
Where I go next is going to be pretty familiar for anyone who has read this column over the past few years. I have written extensively about how more could be done about the promotion and marketing of racing. The status quo is not good enough.
And this will be familiar, too. The codes must provide a place for an attractive product to grow.
Exciting, progressive and competitive horses need to be able to thrive.
This shouldn’t be at the total expense of the boring, hapless battlers. But currently it is the latter who have more opportunity.
You will not find either of these concepts in the legislation now going through Parliament. So there should be no reason to sit around waiting for it to be made law.
Now is the time to act.