Turn it up! Spring season is here

The sun shining down on Forbury Park as cars filled the car park to capacity was a beautiful sight last weekend.

The scene was the absolute opposite of what I witnessed at most of the track's winter meetings.

Though one successful meeting does not prove everything, it certainly demonstrates what is possible if Forbury Park Trotting Club is given the same kind of treatment other clubs and courses get.

I have written extensively on how the club has been poorly treated with its racing dates and race times.

This season it was granted two early season Sunday meetings and the club made the most of it. It resulted in great crowds, good racing and a good atmosphere to foster local interest in harness racing.

After last weekend's success it could be timely to ask why the club is running so many night meetings.

The changing harness racing climate means running night meetings at the track mainly benefits the rest of the country. It means no other Southland or Otago club is stuck running races on Thursday nights in the middle of winter. And that means the other clubs in the region can have their sunny Sunday afternoons.

Clubs such as the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club at Addington and Auckland Trotting Club at Alexandra Park get the most benefit by getting to race predominantly on Friday nights, which are more lucrative.

This scenario has been allowed to manifest because Forbury Park has lights. But what would happen if they were simply switched off? What if the Forbury Park club stopped running its meetings for the greater good of everyone else? What if it was able to conduct its meetings on the same kind of dates the other clubs enjoy?

Or even as a small step, what if it raced during the day on its currently scheduled dates, rather than at night?

The first thing would happen is the club would save $50,000 a year, the figure officials have told me it takes for annual running costs and maintenance.

Of course, the first thing to question would be what would be lost from the change from night racing.

On-course turnover and entertaining may not be largely affected.

It is possible that betting from television viewers could drop. But that is far from guaranteed.

People still bet on gallops races and a large array of other events during the day.

I think there is enough of a case to ask the question - should Forbury Park turn off its lights?

Happy trails.


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