JAMES MATHERS ASKS: NEW SOUTH WALES COUNTRY RACING- IS IT AT THE CROSSROADS?

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!

James Mathers

#MelbourneCupSpringCarnival #TheEverest #Tabcorp #JamesMathers #horseracing

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3 Responses to JAMES MATHERS ASKS: NEW SOUTH WALES COUNTRY RACING- IS IT AT THE CROSSROADS?

  1. Annette Oliver says:

    I have never felt protectionism is the way to right these problems. However, city trainers with facilities to train from versus trainers who have no safe training facilities is one of the areas where a very unequal playing field is harming the country. We are 10kms from a Country ‘A’ training facility but our mown cow paddock is safer and provides us with somewhere to gallop our horses more often than the local track does. This reality combined with the absurdities of the benchmark non-handicapping system is removing the ability for country trainers to compete at all. If V’landys and Messara were looking to the ‘Japanese solution’ all along that would account for their neglect of the grass roots of the Industry – they don’t want small owners, trainers or the country involved in the Industry at all and their plans are currently working well toward this aim.

  2. Johnnie Roberts says:

    an interesting read and of a major problem that was always was going to bite those that said the prizemoney increase was great for country racing the bigger the prize the more unattainable it becomes for the country trainer they simply cannot compete successfully against the better breed and sometimes more expensive stock (bought for more than the whole pool on the day ) why wouldn’t City /Provincial trainers take a lesser galloper to the country? Win one in the bush and it pays for two months training,a Country trainer wins one and it sometimes pays near half of the purchase price of the horse!
    I put to a prominent Secretary of a Country club that by adding (2k?) to a country Trainer as bonus if the horse beat a City/Provincial horse.
    The idea was thought of seriously then the Secretary informed that RNSW adamantly refused any such bonus.
    Ok put on the card 2 or 3 races for Country trained horses only once again refused by the higher above?
    Run more Provincial/Country only, Run a couple on the card Country only, Run the others as open to all?
    Run a Provincial only race on the city Saturday card like the Country Highway race,allow the Country Trainers a bonus of type to compete against City/Provincial trainers.
    The simple reason that these silly simple ideas are hoo haa is that fields in country are full and have always emergencies, fields on the day always 10/12 plus on a 7 race card why race at Provincial for an extra 5k when 11k is on offer in the bush the benchmark doesn’t put anyone off the right City/Provincial horse can carry the weight and still beat the country galloper and it is mooted there is going to be more prizemoney added to all regions so it is logigal that that country racing will boom for there will be more City/Provincial runners going to Country tracks for the big end of the prize and RNSW is yet to see how much this is affecting City /Provincial racing with their fields being 5/6/8/ a race so how many runners a day at those venues if the raids to the country bear better fruit????

  3. ALAN says:

    James, please let go as we cant cure the problem.I wish ,You wish and thousands of others wish but we are a MINORITY.

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