Dear Racing Bitch
Just my thoughts on the ATC.
With the Championships done for another year let me firstly congratulate all those involved in putting this wonderful event together with particular mention to the equine athletes, the jockeys and trainers who displayed courage, professionalism and good grace to make it a huge success.
With that deserving congratulation out of the way now let me address the dead hand of the ATC Committee and officials who have ensured that racing is now a television only event as evidenced by the poor crowds attending such a great carnival. The racetracks under the ATC, and in particular Randwick, have lost all “atmosphere” and that feeling of crowd participation which has always been integral to a day at the races. Gone is the excitement of the crowd cheering the horses down the straight, the roar of the crowd as the favourite wins in a tight finish and even those scholarly opinions about a losing favourite’s rider. Gone also is the feeling of expectation as horses come into the parade ring and punters watch their trainers and jockeys consult on tactics, the enjoyment of mingling in the betting ring and the laissez faire attitude of the crowd who have learnt that racing is the great leveller, that all are equal on the track.
Before listing some of the more obvious problems my credentials for this critique are:
I have been an avid punter all my life, a part owner of numerous horses, an ATC foundation member and prior to that a long term AJC / STC member. Racing is my favourite hobby and going to the races used to be a regular event. I now go only when I have a horse running and generally find the day a pallid reflection of its former self – in short a major disappointment totally devoid of that magic ingredient “atmosphere” thanks to the ATC and its committee.
In my opinion the following are major reasons for lack of both personal and crowd attendance, particularly at Randwick.
· A new grand stand modelled on a leagues club, with patrons housed in a glass viewing area and about as far removed from the “feel’ of the day as possible. Not surprisingly there is little emotion shown by the crowd.
· The removal of the mounting yard, that all important display of the product and the epicentre of the glamour of racing, now relegated backstage and rebadged as “the theatre”
· The conditions of the actual racetrack whereby a track that was sand based could take a drenching and still hold up. Nowadays it is continually wet and biased, not surprising considering the sand has been replaced by soil and the track managers continually water it to keep it soft.
· For the remaining people who still smoke, being herded away from the main parts of the track into semi hidden enclaves to hide their shame. Surely in open areas adults can consume a legal product without harassment.
· The overly zealous and ridiculously numerous “security” staff who are deemed the gatekeepers of public behaviour, morals and attire but who are nowhere to be seem as the drunks push and shout their way out after the last.
· The betting ring now being housed inside the leagues club, devoid of any feel and looking more like a bingo parlour or amusement arcade.
· Sub-standard food at premium prices.
For these as well as numerous other “innovations” we have the ATC to thank. People have voted with their feet and parents are rarely seen taking their children to the track for a day out – the fans of the future. A day of excitement and enjoyment has been crushed by the surgical removal of atmosphere, the imposition and enforcement of petty rules and the relegation of the true stars of the show backstage as the ATC Committee bends over backwards to appeal to the Hooray Henry crowd of champagne guzzling “racing fans”.
Having gutted the “feel” of the once great Randwick venue it cannot come as a surprise that attendance has collapsed – I would love to hear the ATC’s explanation for that situation, even as they choose to pretend the problem does not exist.