Racing on the Harbour Bridge: A cunning stunt?

Tristan Rayner Editor

By , Tristan Rayner is a Roar Editor


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    Sydney Harbour Bridge (Image: Wikipedia Commons)

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    Horse racing over the Sydney Harbour Bridge wasn’t a late April Fools joke – some budding English entrepreneurs appear to be serious about creating a track on Sydney’s famous landmark.

    Fairfax Media on Saturday reported the exclusive, and with Racing NSW doing little to hose down the idea – CEO Peter V’landys simply saying he couldn’t comment on anything commercial-in-confidence – it appears to be very real indeed.

    The move has parallels to motor racing, which has always been a fan of a street circuit, bringing the mountain to Mohammed in a variety of ways that haven’t always worked.

    The Sydney 500 is a recent example and, stretching back some distance, the Formula One Grand Prix at Dallas in 1984. Dallas was a truly disastrous weekend of street racing, which saw the track break up even before the race, Nigel Mansell pass out trying to push his car over the finish line, and 14 drivers crash into the wall – including Ayrton Senna, who swore the wall hit him. Martin Brundle broke both ankles in practice! That was a spectacle.

    In any case, some do work, such as the world famous Monaco GP, Singapore GP, or the Melbourne GP, where Albert Park is turned into motorsport heaven.

    But horse racing over the Harbour Bridge? Well, it’s going to draw eyeballs, that’s for sure.

    Continuing the comparisons, Mark Webber drove across the Coathanger in 2005 for BMW in a fairly extraordinary event.

    Beyond a spectacle, it’s hard to see Harbour Bridge being more than a one-off stunt rather than something you could get around, let alone actually punt on.

    Let’s assume it’s safe, and paid for care of the visual factor for TVs around the globe, and tourist interest alone. We can assume a major transport artery cut off for a day (likely a Sunday) is grudgingly accepted by Sydneysiders.

    It’s also fair to assume owners and trainers will want to run their horses and their colours for some races – six races were touted, and Chris Waller at least was supportive of the idea in comments made to Fairfax.

    The whispered proposals are for a 1400m track (the bridge is 1149m long) based on a modular system, which limits us to sprints. Could it work? Probably. But can it be more than a stunt?

    There’s little doubt that you’d have to be somewhat mad to have a serious bet on it. Fair enough putting a few coins on a horse you fancy, but anything more than that and you’d have to question you or your mate’s sanity.

    It’s possible this is just a PR win for the Englishmen Olly Neil and Andy King, of GAG 403, who also want to race in the heart of London, and down the Champs d’Elysee in Paris too. No doubt they’ll need some funding to get it over the line. No doubt this kind of promotion helps that.

    It’ll be something to see, certainly. More than that, we’ll only find out if details emerge. Hopefully some money can go into getting Randwick’s course proper to drain a little better.

    Glyn’s gaff: The best thing beaten in how long?
    Glyn Schofield’s mount Up ‘N’ Rolling was second a long neck at Canterbury in race six, and on a quiet Easter Monday, you’ve be forgiven for not having seen the ride.

    But take a look at the replay and you’ll see one of the best things beaten in a fair while – Kiseki Dane out in front is home and hosed, until finally Schofield gets out on the short-priced Up ‘N’ Rolling and steams home.

    You’ll see earlier in the run the trouble the former Kiwi horse finds itself in.

    Stewards adjourned their questioning for Schofield on the day, and most are expecting a stint on the sidelines for the Group 1 winner.

    It caps a bad few days for Schofield. He was also suspended for three meetings starting April 29, for weighing in 1.2kg over when fifth aboard the long-odds Ruling Dynasty on Saturday, in the BM100 last.

    RVL interested in Good Friday, because of course they are
    Good Friday racing at Ascot was a success, with more than 8000 turning up to what now appears as a key date for all codes. We said as much back in March – a rare opportunity for racing.

    An anonymous Racing Victoria official told News Corp that interest was growing – with race dates already set for 2017-18 season, the big states might only make a move in 2019 and beyond.

    Tristan Rayner
    Tristan Rayner

    Tristan is a writer, consultant, racing enthusiast and former Editor of The Roar who has turned the Melbourne Cup into a year-round study via