Racing on the Harbour Bridge: A cunning stunt?

Tristan Rayner Editor

By Tristan Rayner, 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

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    The Crowd Says (11)

    • April 19th 2017 @ 7:19am
      Onside said | April 19th 2017 @ 7:19am | ! Report

      Policemans Baton would win the stunning horse race.

    • April 19th 2017 @ 8:54am
      no one in particular said | April 19th 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report

      Everybody in Sydney knows that if you need one beaten put Schofield on it

    • April 19th 2017 @ 9:25am
      Addington said | April 19th 2017 @ 9:25am | ! Report

      Iv’e always said the punt is the hardest way to make a living on this earth as there are sooooooo many variables ….not the least of which are ..

      (1) Tracks ….fast lane …slow lane ….no lane.
      (2) Track surfaces that change from week to week.
      (3) Run dependent on winning of any race.
      (4) Pace on or off can ram your result right up your kyhber.
      (5) Bad ride …..yes BAD RIDE …..the worst of them all …..and Schofield’s ride was a ‘ bobby dazzler’ to get Up and Rolling beaten.

      But a shocking ride like that has to be copped on the chin by the ones that prop the whole industry up ….the good old punter …..the faithful punter who keeps chucking his or her hard earned in every week to make the industry tick.
      We must just love the torture in return for the occasional win.

      • April 19th 2017 @ 9:21pm
        Razzar said | April 19th 2017 @ 9:21pm | ! Report

        You missed the stewards Addington. I didn’t bet, but r1 Caufiled last week had a race taken off quilate. How the stewards came to the conclusion that the second runner would’ve beaten Quilate is for mine beyond comprehension.

        After watching the replay many times.

        Sure Quilate drifted out, they brushed late. But the second horse from what I can see, had not any of the required momentum to run over Quilate. The stewards have a term of reference. They have to be convinced the interferance cost the second horse victory. In this instance its a mammoth stretch to say the second horse should have been placed first . Oh well they’re only human??

    • April 19th 2017 @ 10:29am
      spruce moose said | April 19th 2017 @ 10:29am | ! Report

      All I’m going to say on this is that you’d be made to bet on any horse that will be in lanes 3-4. They are the slowest lanes on the bridge!

      • Columnist

        April 19th 2017 @ 2:41pm
        Geoff Parkes said | April 19th 2017 @ 2:41pm | ! Report


        I must admit, I had to check the date when I heard about this.

    • April 19th 2017 @ 9:00pm
      Razzar said | April 19th 2017 @ 9:00pm | ! Report

      Even on a bridge, expect a Wet track.

    • April 20th 2017 @ 12:28am
      TigerMan said | April 20th 2017 @ 12:28am | ! Report

      Good Friday racing at Ascot certainly was amazing. Every article has a larger crowd to justify the destruction of a long held tradition. In the West Australian on Saturday, it was 6000 on the Monday it was 7000 and now, someone in the RVL said it was 8000. By the end of the month, the crowd should be up to 40,000 and growing. As someone who went, I would hazard a good guess at around 5000 at the absolute most with about 1000 to 1500 kids under 12 enjoying all the free rides. Let’s not forget, it was free entry with a hell of a lot of free inducements to boost the crowd numbers to justify the event. The fields were worse than a city midweek and the punting was abysmal. Even the local pastime of looking at the beautiful off track fillies and over dressed mares was nothing to write home about. But in the interest of ensuring that all traditions are destroyed and every ounce of money can be extracted from Joe Public, everyone can keep increasing the crowd numbers and over reporting of a non event.

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