Unfortuately, there is a lot of concern around the industry at the moment with the announcements during the week by Racing Victoria of potential track closures and reduced meetings for picnic and other country racing and training tracks.
Although I fully appreciate the need for racing to keep reviewing its operating model and question where it is investing dollars I don't think there is a good understanding at all of the role picnic racing plays in the overall marketing value of racing generally. I have worked for many years at Metropolitan, Country and Picnic Racing tracks and picnic racing leads the way in providing a non threatening experience to first time racegoers being introduced to the world of race betting.
Unfortunately, picnic racing is seen as an expense rather than a form of promotion and marketing. I expect the small amount of money invested to run a picnic meeting would yield a better return than the same amount of money spent advertising in the media to try and bring people to the races. The introduction of many young people through birthday functions, bucks and hens parties are regular parts of picnic racing that should continue to be invested in to help groom the next crop of racing enthusiasts.
It is commonplace for customers to come up to my stand at the end of the day and say what a great day they had and give thanks for helping them and showing patience as they learnt to bet. I have never experienced that in all my years on a metropolitan racecourse. It is difficult to measure the value of those experiences to the racing industry and often decisions can be made on the easily measured metrics such as profit and loss. I encourage people to read the directions paper on the Racing Victoria website and provide any submissions to support the industry by February 6th, 2009.
Good luck on the punt,
Race 1 went to the improving Ivor Strategy who made it two on end at Woolamai winning at the good odds of $5-00. The John Kilgower trained 4yo mare got well back in the running and looked hopeless prior to the turn but finished strongly down the outside to win for jockey Ben Wade.
The win of Ivor Strategy in the first made the form of Ainsleigh's Girl look good for the second race given it had finished a good second to that horse last time at Woolamai. With Leigh Taylor jumping the 6yo mare well from barrier 1 she had the race in her keeping a long way out leading practically all the way to get the Ron Stephens trained horse home at $4-20.
The 10yo Distraction, carrying the steadier of 72kg and over what most would see as an unsuitable distance stormed home down the outside to win at $7-00. Rides are few and far between for jockey Ray Douglas nowadays but clearly when he rides one he shows he has lost none of his finesse.
Trainer Tom Scanlon has had great success with this gelding and there seem to be plenty more wins in store for the old boy yet.