THE CORNER WITH GARRY CHITTICK
How do we reignite the enthusiasm for our wonderful sport, it seems to be a universal problem that will have far-reaching consequences after all no next generation, no future. But we are not alone, all sports seem to be afflicted with the success of event days followed by the loneliness of the supporting acts.
Racing in NZ has a history of what used to be weeks not to be missed, Wellington Cup meeting was a three-day event culminating with the Cup. Boxing Day (Auckland) attracted one of our bigger crowds when hosting the Derby. New Year’s Day Cup meeting would motivate me to leave my favourite lakeside Kinloch and drive the three hours each way. Manawatu Sires Produce used to be a week of racing, golf, and bowls. Then the week of the National, now that was never to be missed with the exceptional South Island hospitality and the challenging steeplechase course.
There is nothing wrong with the week of the Classics, you will be starting to think when or if there was any work done. Clearly one never attended all of the events mind you, I didn’t miss a lot.
Now, to be fair there are few of my vintage fit enough to attend, not enough still owning all or part of a horse, remarkably I have found increasing numbers of my friends feverishly saving for their old age without realising they are already there. You’ve got to think that with the generation following now middle-aged my remaining contemporaries would realise the adrenaline rush of a winner is probably the only such rush they are likely to legitimately able to share with remaining mates and family. Still, there wouldn’t be enough of us to rejuvenate racing, but we remain entitled to be recognised as a remaining contributor of the ownership ranks.
The real events nowadays are pre-sold, is this good or bad? It’s good in as much as the Club knows how to generate income, you know, a tinny priced competitively at five times pub price, now that’s going to encourage those non-punting event day attendees to return, the bad is we relics of the past who are paying training fees to provide the horses for the day struggle to find a mate and struggle to battle our way to the overpriced bar to drown our disappointment having failed to run a place.
But there are lots of non-event days we can attend without the hustle and bustle. We will be racing for fewer stakes, and the big stands will allow us to grab a Scotch, hang on, bugger it half the bars are closed, but still we are there for the horse, we are there because, well, where would we sooner be? But we are not the future, unfortunately.
Syndication requires skilled organisers, not only do the syndicators have to find buyers, they have to manage the multiple emotions of multiple ownership. Still, this includes a big spread of people of all ages and different backgrounds, we all hear about the odd shonky promoter, they won’t last, our experience would be to say to a potential new participant, put your toe in the water with a five percent, go with the syndicator who uses the Trainer you want to have a horse with. The recent dual Oaks Winner Penny Weka has 72 owners, most have travelled to all her starts including across to Sydney. Fantastic, great for the sport.
Back to the beginning, where to from here? Who would have thought the initiative of Racing NSW with the Golden Eagle and the TAB Everest would have attracted capacity crowds, more importantly, not my lot, no, they reckon the average age of attendees was no more than thirty-five. I met Peter Vlandys he made it very clear I was welcome but not the future. He is right. I just hope that a number who attended will still be attending in forty-five years.
You see, I am convinced my best is yet to come, my just three-year-olds will need to improve, but do I have a number of exciting two-year-olds, it should by now be clear to the ten of you I am not saving for the future, if you’ve got the energy and a bit of dough, wouldn’t you rather go out on a winning note?
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