Turn it up! What to do with the Jewels

To move or not to move the Harness Jewels, that is the question.

Well, it it seems that everyone in harness racing with an opinion is coming out of the woodwork. Freshen it up, some say. Leave it be, others say.

A lot of my thoughts on the Jewels stem from my first and only time attending the Australasian Breeders Crown finals day at Melton, last year. It was as stale a 10-day-old bread.

The brave still had some, but most avoided it.

For me, the on-track atmosphere was just a little flat.

The meeting could serve as a look into the future of what the Jewels would look like if it did not change - a bit flat, a bit old hat and a little boring.

It needs a freshen-up, and I think that makeover needs to be drastic.

Simply changing venues is too easy, too boring. But changing venues as part of a wider strategy could work.

The big advantage I can see is that there are more indoor facilities at Addington,

so it makes sense to hold feature winter race meetings there. I know I would rather be in the Silks lounge than sitting in a cold tent at Ashburton.

Let's run meetings in our coldest months at the tracks with the best facilities.

And let's regionalise feature meetings over summer, so tracks with poorer facilities won't impact on the punters' experience as much.

There could be two options for the Jewels. Move them to Addington or move the date to the summer.

I am not for moving the Jewels date from the end of the season, so now we have my answer to what to do with the series - move it to Addington.

Using the country's best facilities in winter has to be a good strategy.

I can already feel the ire of Ashburton supporters saying, hang on, the weather has not been that cold at Ashburton for the Jewels.

That's right, it hasn't. But it hasn't been scorching, either.

The flip side of what I am suggesting is that regional facilities should be used more in summer. Why not run a premier group 1 meeting at Ashburton in summer?

Why not have one in Nelson and Southland, as well.

Open-class pacers flying over a mile at Ashburton? Now that would be a sight.

Does harness racing dare to dream? Or should I just cancel my next trip to the Breeders Crown, because I will be able to get the same thing at Ashburton next year?

Happy trails.


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