Turn it up! Summer racing is here

It might sound a little corny, but there is just so much going on in racing at the moment.

Some good, some bad.

On the track, things could not really get better from a fan or punter's perspective. Though spring racing is behind us, quality summer racing is upon us.

Off the track, things are a lot more complicated. Here are three issues that have caught my attention in the past two weeks.

Operation Inca

Details that can be published about Operation Inca are cryptic and sketchy at best, obviously due to suppression orders.

What I can say is that I believe the judicial process looks set to drag on for months, or even years. Anyone expecting the harness racing industry to put this behind it quickly is absolutely dreaming.

That means the damage the inquiry is doing to the sport is highly likely to continue.

So, racing fans, get ready for more questions from non-racing people about the integrity of the industry.

The Messara report

The most interesting part of last week's Otago Racing Club AGM came when the issue of the future ownership of the Wingatui track was raised.

This demonstrates the highly complex nature of what has been proposed in the Messara report.

On the surface, Wingatui's future looks assured. It is not slated for closure and soon it will host more clubs than ever.

In reality, things may not be getting busier at Wingatui if the race-day licensing in the Messara recommendations is set in stone.

The Wingatui course is scheduled to hold 11 meetings this season and the same number in the 2023-24 season, including the meetings it will host for other clubs.

So, by the numbers, the Otago Racing Club will be stripped of some of its race-day licences.

The track could also become a property of New Zealand Thoroughbred racing.

That puts the viability of the club in a grey area.

The club have been proactive in addressing this issue and perhaps the most encouraging part of that is it is looking at taking a collaborative approach to it with other southern clubs.

Rules and more rules

Two horses were scratched from the Inter Dominions this week after they were blood tested.

Nothing was injected into them, but blood was taken off them within ``one clear day'' of a race. That is against Australian rules, which are understood, in very simple terms, to discourage having needles anywhere near horses near race day.

The rule was broken and what seems a harsh punishment has been served.

For me, there are two points to come out of this.

One is that the pressure on trainers to follow rules and procedure is at an all-time high. That is a good thing for the integrity of the sport.

However, I wonder what the means for attracting people to become trainers. The blood-testing case might not be the most brilliant example, but it is one of a long list of responsibilities trainers have to follow procedure.

Simply put, do some themselves if it is worth all the stress? I would imagine it would not be if you had a team of slow horses.

Of course, these kinds of rules are absolutely essential for the racing codes to be sustained.

However, one must feel for the trainers. It seems now that working the horses must be the really easy part of the job.

What pressing issues away from the track have caught your eye recently?

Email me your thoughts.

Happy trails



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