Turn it up! Timing crucial for southern clubs

The measure of success for a racing club looks fairly simple.

Firstly look at its annual accounts, and secondly look at its turnover.

The more annual profit and more turnover a club has on its races means the more successful it can be considered to be.

Those measures for success looked suitable 50 years ago, but they do not now.

The racing and wider entertainment environment has obviously changed markedly over that time.

And that means the circumstances in which race meetings are now held is much, much different.

Broadcasting has become the main way people take in racing, and consequently that broadcasting environment appears crucial to a club's success.

Today's Wingatui meeting looks to have been dealt a middling hand.

On the positive side it is the only domestic thoroughbred meeting on television today, so that should afford it some good air time.

On the negative side, the meeting will be broadcast on Trackside 2, the country's second-rate racing channel.

There, the race will undoubtedly be nestled in among the low-rating garbage the TAB will taking betting on from Australia.

Saturday's meeting at Ascot Park will be much worse.

Feature racing from Ellerslie and Trentham will take centre stage on Trackside 1, while the Ascot meeting will be shown on Trackside 2.

There will be little incentive for viewers to stay tuned there, as they are bombarded with pictures of American racing that seem to hold absolutely no interest for New Zealand viewers at all.

Two clubs have excellent broadcasting environments and one has a poor one.

Yet, if any person or group were to compare the meetings, it is almost certain they would use turnover to do so.

How on earth is that fair?

The example I have used may look like a thoroughbred versus harness racing argument.

There is no argument there - harness racing gets a raw deal on Trackside compared to thoroughbred racing, and that is a fact.

But the argument runs deeper still than that.

South Island racing in both codes gets a raw deal compared to North Island racing.

And South Island galloping most certainly gets a raw deal compared to North Island gallops.

Those broadcasting circumstances are largely driven - but not fully dependent on - race dates.

Forbury Park is a prime example of this.

How on earth is this club meant to prosper when it has been handed what I considered to be among the worst dates on the racing calendar?

How does a race on a Thursday night, the time Forbury Park races at most frequently, compare to a similar race on a Friday night or Saturday or Sunday afternoon?

I think the answer is quite obvious.

And the implication of those dates is not limited to broadcasting.

On-course income, through entertainment and hospitality, is vital to any club.

How is a Thursday night meeting conducive to getting people on course for that?

Today's meeting at Wingatui - scheduled on a working day for many potential patrons - is in the same position.

Usually, complaining about this kind of scenario is fruitless.

However, racing is facing a massive change.

The dates process and broadcasting deals are certain to be affected by this.

South Island racing officials need to be pushing for a better deal for South Island racing when there is an opportunity.

The current one is simply not good enough.

Happy trails.

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