Bob Hawke was nonplussed. He’d just gotten off a typically eloquent speech in front of a claque of media, and no-one had a question for him.
The past seven Melbourne Saturday meetings have had their first race run on Good 3 ground. Enough is enough. You have water. Use it.
Dead 4 should be the aim for all racing clubs. With irrigation systems in place at all our metropolitan racing venues, we can control the condition of our tracks.
But we don’t – and the horses are suffering.
While industry administrators prioritise punters too highly through their management of bookmakers and broadcasting, the safety of our horses is non-negotiable.
Although a horse may not hurt themselves immediately from running on hard ground, the long-term effects are career ending. It is so bad that trainers often avoid Good ground with their horse’s future and wellbeing in mind.
The problem with having the last seven Melbourne Saturday meetings on firming Good 3 ground is that we are not going to get the best possible fields throughout spring. At a time of the year when races have richer purses than any other, it is imperative that we get the best quality racing possible.
But this can’t be done if we start every Saturday race meeting on firming Good 3 ground.
The biggest issue with these firming Good 3 tracks, which we have been dealing with over the past two months, is that horses jar up from them. Simply a little bit of jarring up can put a horse’s entire preparation in turmoil.
We saw it last week with Puissance De Lune.
When trainers carefully plan a race program for their horses, they should not have to worry about dangerous tracks ruining their plans. Owners are paying thousands of dollars a year for their horse to be trained so they tend to want to watch them race.
When firm tracks prevent horses from running or creating long-term stress on their body, we have a big problem because it creates an awful experience for owners. So many of those first-time owners who have a bad experience never return to the industry but it seems the racing clubs don’t care.
Very little is achieved by having rock hard tracks. Punters may like the consistency of horses on firm ground because those that can handle it tend to do so for the rest of their careers. Those that do not are saved for the winter months or scratched on raceday.
The financial factor of constantly watering tracks should be irrelevant because as mentioned earlier, safety of the horses is non-negotiable. When races are as exciting as they are during spring, there is more than enough betting turnover for someone to pay the water bill.
If we want the best horses to be racing at their best in spring, they need to be looked after. No one wins by having these firming Good 3 tracks when we have systems in place to put a bit of give in the ground.
Stop making the horses and their owners suffer.