Turn it up! More calendar woes

If you ever wanted evidence that the South Island gets raw deals from the racing calendar, just turn back to Wednesday.

The Ashburton Jockey Club carded a brilliant meeting that attracted fields as good as you will find in winter in the South Island outside the Grand National Carnival.

The stakes were good, the horses were good and in form and the racing competitive.

So, why start it at 11am on a Wednesday? Who on earth could be there to bet or watch their horse at that hour? Who on earth could bet or watch on television at that hour?

Surely a feature meeting of this stature and a key lead-up to the Grand National Carnival would be better placed on a Saturday.

If it was just an industry meeting full of maidens and rating 65 horses you would hear no complaints from me.

But a quality meeting such as Ashburton's should be on a Saturday or Sunday when a sizeable crowd can attend and when people are not working, and can watch and have a bet.

While we are on the subject of the racing calendar, it seems that there are many people unhappy with the way changes are announced.

It seems both horse-racing codes and the TAB have done a poor job of notifying the public of changes to their meetings.

There have been several meetings in the lower South Island in recent weeks that have had their dates changed.

Racegoers have told me that they had little idea that a meeting had been moved and had found out only by chance, or, in some cases, not been told at all.

I certainly can not recall any official notices being sent to me.

It's understood this is why the starting gates were not at the recent Oamaru meeting.

When you consider the cost of the combined marketing and communications departments of the TAB and the horse-racing codes would run in the millions, I think its fair to say they can do a better job of this.

Changes need to be better notified.

Now, there is one massive irony about tonight's Forbury Park meeting having its date changed.

It was originally scheduled for the less attractive timeslot of Thursday night.

It sounds better to have it on a Friday, but it may not be so for turnover as many in the South Island will be fixed on tonight's Highlanders and Crusaders Super Rugby match.

Clashes with other events, including rugby, and the need to change and tweak the calendar, will always happen.

There will never be a perfect racing calendar. But I can assure you there certainly can be a better one.

Happy trails.

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