I find myself pausing a little these days. Today I ask the question as to what is the horse racing business in Australia? What is it?
Is it just the Melbourne Cup Spring Carnival, The Everest, the Championships, the Golden Slipper or is it a lot more ?
My racing and thoroughbred experience has been learned through being involved horses and racing in Australia, primarily New South Wales. I have little experience or knowledge of the thoroughbred horse industry and racing in other countries.
Are we now at the crossroads in respect of racing in New South Wales? If not, it seems we are certainly going through some interesting times.
There has always been a very strong connection between the city and the country in the world of horses, breeding, selling, training, racing and caring. Many if not most of the people involved have very strong country connections. Many were raised in the country as opposed to the city. Most of our leading jockeys and trainers have their roots in the country. Country racing has always been there and it has always been central to the industry and indeed many country towns.
Over the past few years there has been a much-needed and much welcome boost to prize money in the country. One would assume that this is all very positive and generally good for country racing. But is it?
It would be fair to say that in recent times country race meetings in New South Wales have aroused the interest of the big city trainers. The prize money is good and you certainly can’t blame the trainers for chasing prizemoney for their owners. That’s part of their job, a big part.
What is now happening is that the big city trainers are fielding many horses (truck loads) from their large city stables at country meetings, the result being that the country trainers are being swamped. Is this such a bad thing? After all we all have to compete.
Country race clubs are for country people- the people that do the hard work, the heavy lifting. They are the local owners who support the local trainers, stable hands, track work riders, jockeys, local feed merchants, farriers, vets, float drivers and indeed the towns.
Importantly. country race meetings provide the wagering sector (Tabcorp) with revenue, the New South Wales government with taxes and the industry with prize money!
The consequence of the big city trainers coming to town is that the local trainers can’t compete. They scratch their horses, they don’t race or alternatively they truck them further west.
What happens next is that the local owners lose interest, they no longer want to support or run the local race club, they no longer want to go to the races at the local track and guess what, they no longer want to own horses. The country trainer closes down, the stable hands and track work riders are retrenched, the chaps that run the bars and the cafes at the local tracks on race days no longer have a job, the feed merchants, the farriers and the local vets have no work. The whole show contracts and there is nowhere for the “Baker boys” to go. The gates are shut….go home!
Do I have a solution? Not really however it really seems that in some ways what is a plus could end up being a minus.
We need some Everest quality thinking to sort this problem out!
#MelbourneCupSpringCarnival #TheEverest #Tabcorp #JamesMathers #horseracing