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Thread: The “ESSESS” in the room.

  1. #1
    Senior Member 3YO Dot will become famous soon enough
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    The “ESSESS” in the room.

    There have been some comments around improving/evolving our racing getting an airing on twitter but I thought I’d make my comments here.( Yes I can’t write that short and I don’t have a twitter account)

    STANDING STARTS: one question I’ve never heard answered by HRV is if standing starts are so detrimental to turnover why do we still have them for trotters? I’d have to say SS have there place too amongst the pacers and I don’t think anyone is suggesting that they replace a significant number of mobile start races. There’s no question SS gives handicapping options that mobile starts don’t and certainly looks like field size in country cups and likely turnover too has diminished since they’ve gone all mobile. That’s not to say all country cups should be stands though, variety is the spice of life.

    HRVs arguement against SSs is reduced turnover on the race as compared to MS, and one on one equal field size no doubt is true. But would some standing start racing that returns horses to the racing pool that aren’t or are no longer suited to mobiles, horses with no gait speed off the mobile ( but step away swiftly) or horses who as a legacy of a lengthy racing career can genuinely only make one sprinting effort in a race, increase the horse pool and therefore increase field sizes in mobile races with a resultant increase in turnover on those race? Thus compensating for the reduced turnover on the stand? Isn’t distributing more prize money among more participants a priority ( I’ve seen a horse who hadn’t won in three years win from a rare standing start race at Penrith some years back) keeping more people and horses in the game? Isn’t extending the careers of our horses in Australia a priority?

    We can only know if we try it. And ( apart from country cups) I’m sure those participants who want SS understand and expect, as a concession to TABCORP and HRV, that they would be programmed at such times that the race has the minimum detrimental effect on turnover. And I’m sure they would understand that they would be required to be good at standing starts so expected to show proficiency at the trials within a reasonable period before the race and expect to be sent back to the trials if they blow the start.

    Of course turnover and SS have been mentioned before ( ad nauseum) and it’s apparent that David Martin does not want to budge from his narrow short term view that SSs are bad for turnover, ( pacers only apparently) but how much is being lost to us in turnover by the elimination of pacers standing starts? The NZ CUP is the biggest event in harness racing in the Southern Hemisphere and ( apart from WA) the loss of standing starts has effectively cost Australians the opportunity to participate in that event with a horse born, produced and prepared for the Cup in Australia.

    Although Sky sent their harness staff to NZ on a junket ( how much did that cost? Who paid?) the turnover on the NZ cup in Australia failed to exceed a 6 horse gallops field ( I guess we have the false start to thank for knowing that) at Qurindi in NSW ( and that’s not far from the middle of nowhere for those who don’t know ) How much could our turnover improve on the NZ Cup with genuine Aussie participants? ( guess turnover might have been nil if it wasn’t for adopted Aussie Tiger Tara! and Aussie punters don’t know Kiwi form) How much might interest in our racing and our turnover improve on our other races as the result of genuine Aussies competition in the greatest harness event in the Southern Hemisphere, and the interest and life long friendships that that sort of experience creates? Guess we’ll never know because we don’t have standing starts in which to train for such a momentous occasion, but I’m tipping its more then we’d lose in turnover by running a stand start pacing race or two a week.

  2. #2
    Senior Member 3YO Dot will become famous soon enough
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    SPRINTS AND STRAIGHT TRACKS: these are also getting another run on twitter and have been raised here before, and at least one tried before. HRNSW under Sam Nati not long before his departure for the greener pastures of the Isle of Mann staged an extensive trial of 1000m races known as the flying “k”, complete with greyhound coloured silks ( something Sam was keen to introduce for well over a decade!) and I guess that as most people have never heard of it that tells you the resulting “improvements” to turnover weren’t what was required to save, enhance or innovate the sport and the flying “k” died a natural death. From memory and only anecdotally as I recall this style of racing resulted in a higher injury rate to the horses. Whether that was the 1000m course itself or because trainers thought this type of racing would be better for horses of questionable soundness I doubt is known. I doubt very much that another result would occur if 1000 or 1200m races were trialed again now and “sprint” harness racing is probably best left as an occasional gimmick or promotion. I don’t know of any other harness racing jurisdiction that does it on anything other then an ad hoc basis either.

    Straight tracks have also been talked about for at least 2 decades though we haven’t built one in that time and I don’t know of a harness jurisdiction that has. So build one and let’s try it some are saying ( seemingly forgetting that that would require quite considerable financial resources, the sort of thing we’re sadly lacking )and what if it doesn’t work and I imagine it wouldn’t and we’ve spent more then we intended ( specially cause we had to make the track longer cause we don’t do standing starts for pacers!) what then? So how about instead of trying it we take a look around and, what’s that, how many straight tracks for gallops sprint races do you see? One is it? Flemington you say, don’t think there’s another one of any significance anyway. Kinda tells us something don’t you think. Our TB friends are as obsessed about turnover as we are and if they aren’t carving out straight tracks left right and centre for their predominantly sprint race programs I think that kinda tells you that turnover on ordinary sprint races on a straight track is likely to be about the same as going around the, I mean, a bend. I don’t see them rushing out to paint lanes on the grass up the straight six either.

    Interestingly does anyone think that when Racing Victoria increase the number of staying races for gallopers in the probably forlorn hope that we can get at least one locally bred and produced stayer in the Melbourne Cup in the future Sky Chanel will be telling them to only run shorter races?

  3. #3
    Senior Member 3YO Dot will become famous soon enough
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    SKY CHANNEL not so much doing the rounds as we’ve heard it before, a Sky Channel employee telling anyone who’ll listen that we need to do away with stands, and right after a NZ Cup meeting faux par too if I’m not mistaken. He said some other things too in 1999 as has another one more recently and well really not much has changed in the ensuing almost 20 years but that’s not to say it doesn’t need to, just that we haven’t actually, quite anyway, come to a juddering halt by doing not very much.

    Sam Nati’s presentation to the World Trotting Conference in 1999 for anyone who’s interested:

    https://www.harness.org.au/hra/papers/PNATI2.HTM


    Well I’m not from outside the industry as seemed to be a prerequisite in the Twitter conversation for being able to come up with ideas to innovate our industry but here’s one-we need to remain true to our roots, remain harness racing not try to be gallops, greyhound or quarter horse racing, not that we do that here but Sky would probably love it, mostly 440yards straight track and no one ducks for cover!

    But we need to improve what we do and sorry Sky Channel I don’t hold with making our races shorter then a mile so we need less air time but what if we could get the all clear through sooner? Really that’s what you actually want isn’t it, getting the money turned over and in the churn again sooner? What if we do away through the marvel of modern communications the HRA rule of having to file back past the all clear steward who sat close to the judge yadda yadda yadda, and position the all clear steward in the end of the back straight stewards tower and have the field pull up there, or in the case of WA continue past. Using mobile phone or radios or other electronic device have the judge give the numbers to that steward, which could happen very quickly in most instances if there’s no photo and it’s not like waiting on a developed print these days if there is. And drivers notify any objections to that steward. Likewise using mobile phone/radio any stewards matters could be notified to delay all clear if required. Maybe not at Menangle but should get the all clear through what 30 seconds to a minute ? sooner at every other track.

    And those innovations mentioned on twitter to gallops and grey hounds, the Everest, the Kosciosko and the million dollar dog race, they aren’t alterations to the nuts and bolts of the codes and how a race is physically being run as is being suggested is needed trots but alterations to prize money funding arrangements and interaction/involvement for fans for gallops and commitment to longivity and welfare outcomes for greyhounds.

    And on that note I did come up with a proposal for a $3 million ID series when HRV proposed to run 2 heats and a final so if anyone is interested in that I’m happy to send it via email.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Stallion Messenger will become famous soon enough Messenger's Avatar
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    Dot, I totally agree about staying true to ourselves.

    As an attendee I don't want tracks that are like gallops tracks where binoculars are essential
    BUT I fear the attendee is irrelevant nowadays for as others have pointed out TV is so good (I still cannot see how we get new owners without them going)

    If we are going for attendees I think we should be pitching 'a dinner and show' as a major strategy (excuse the old fashioned terminology) . I have only ever done it at Stawell but have enjoyed quite a few at the gallops. There is often a good deal of time between races and dining is a great way to fill this time while complimenting the racing

    I miss the SS where good horse educators got their horses away quickly and good horses made up their handicap

    We don't want races shorter than a mile nor do we want straight racing - when the field splits at Flemington even the caller doesn't know what is happening until the last 100m

    The idea of placing the 'All Clear' steward in the back straight seems a good one to me
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  5. #5
    Senior Member 4YO gutwagon will become famous soon enough gutwagon's Avatar
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    Standing starts were never much of a problem until they started messing with the score up procedure in the last few years before they were stopped . We had 4 or 5 different starting procedures tried and they just lead to more horses galloping away. I wonder if this was a deliberate strategy by the board to make it easier to eliminate them altogether.
    I think we need 1 SS pacers race per meeting and different classes can be combined with the use of handicaps. Something that would help with the small fields that we currently have. And we need to use the original starting procedure where all horses stand still at the tape. They also need to be very strict on drivers that try to get a flying start.
    If they are serious about turnover why do we still have Montes ? Also trotters gallop out at stands more that pacers and we still have them.
    Sky seem to be the problem wanting races to start on time, they didn't like waiting for standing starts. That issue could be solved by having one channel for each code and not trying to show dogs, TB's and harness on one channel.
    Don't die wondering !

  6. #6
    Senior Member Horse Of The Year Amlin will become famous soon enough Amlin's Avatar
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    If not for pacers handicaps it would have been a four race card at Devonport tonight

  7. #7
    Senior Member Horse Of The Year arlington will become famous soon enough
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    Purists cover your eyes. As mentioned in another thread, could we use resistance sulkies as a form of handicap?

  8. #8
    Senior Member 3YO Dot will become famous soon enough
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    I actually put something very similar to that to the CEO in an email some 18months ago Wayne. The suggestion started with the governing body supplying all sulkies used on raceday including with colour coded wheels corresponding with tab number colours ( needs far fewer sulkies and free up money for people to buy or breed horses instead of sitting in sulkies which are often used very infrequently by hobbiests and at least gives an impression of a level playing field when everyone’s sulky is the same) and after they had done that they could develop sulky variants of “light” and “heavy” to go with “standard” all also colour coded as well.

    Moving the All clear steward to the back straight to get the all clear through sooner along with a number of other things were also in that email. Batting 0 for 0 so far.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Horse Of The Year arlington will become famous soon enough
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    Reading that, I just have to email as well Dot. You know I'm not going to get to sleep now?! No, not at the prospect of emailing the CEO

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