Sydney racing returns to Rosehill this Saturday in the unusual role as the undercard to the big Magic Millions card on the Gold Coast (don’t worry – I’ve found a couple there).
The 2015-16 season is just about done and dusted. The racing game is as strong as ever, but there could certainly be improvements. Here is my wish list for the upcoming season.
1. If you accept, you must race
I find it quite frustrating when you see race fields riddled with scratchings, dual acceptors etc etc. I look at the Hong Kong style of acceptances without scratchings unless a vet certificate is supplied.
The classic scenario back home is horses pulling out due to a wet track. The onus has to be on the connections to look at upcoming weather forecasts and the current track rating at the time of nominating.
Gai Waterhouse has always been a believer of running horses on any sort of track regardless of the conditions rather than sit in the box back home or working on a muddy track with a heavy saddle.
2. More 3200m races
Punters love a slog and a contest at this distance, so I can’t really understand why the Perth and Brisbane Cups are at 2400m now instead of 3200m.
Due to the substantial increase in the staying ranks thanks to imports, there is enough depth to put them back to 3200m. Look back at the past year and the best fought out staying events were the Sydney Cup, Melbourne Cup and Adelaide Cup, each at the two miles.
3. Prizemoney allocation needs drastic changes
Australia must be baffling for outsiders looking into our racing when it comes to the prizemoney allocation.
There’s no clearer example that than the Percy Sykes Stakes, a Group 3 at Randwick for two-year olds worth $500,000.
That doesn’t make sense when you have more than a handful of Group 1 races worth $400,000, some even less. There were other examples throughout the Brisbane Winter Carnival.
Something is wrong if you have lesser class races worth more than majors.
4. Honour our legends better
There’s no rhyme or reason to how some of our past champions of the sport are honoured, and some examples can be made where it’s almost a disgrace. Two examples are the Bart Cummings, a Group 3 over 2520m that’s worth a pitiful $300,000. Arguably the greatest trainer Australia has ever seen, certainly of stayers, and that’s the best we can do?
What about our greatest horse Phar Lap? How do we honour him? We do that by naming a non-event after him, giving it Group 2 status and $175,000 prizemoney. It just doesn’t make sense.
Too many historic names are being lost to sponsorship, and when sponsorship inevitably ends, race names become confusing. Only true racing buffs remember The BMW is the H.E. Tancred Stakes, named after Harry Eugene Tancred.
5. Public trials or public jump outs must be mandatory
This comes to mind after the debut win of Astro Castro at Flemington at $101 with no public appearances. There are several, in fact many trainers that don’t trial their horses publicly prior to a debut or a first up run, and it is something that needs to change.
I go back to the Hong Kong format where a horse has to trial before those two scenarios.
Apparently Astro Castro jumped out well last year at Ballarat, but of course that wasn’t known until after the horse won. In an environment where replays, vision, data and an even playing field are demanded and regulated, the fact that this is still allowed without good reason just doesn’t make sense for punters.