Lockdown Has Got Us Thinking

Lockdown Has Got Us Thinking

Bruce Stewart

1st May 2020

With Covid-19 disrupting the Harness Racing Industry, this time of Lockdown has given us the opportunity to rethink, reassess, and take another look, at what our future might look like.

Many people it seems, are thinking that now is a time for us to decide as a group, what we want for harness racing in the south in this new environment. Maybe we can choose to make some decisions about our future ourselves, rather than leaving it up to the powers that be to make them for us. Clearly there will be some hard decisions to make. But it’s important that we all put our thinking caps on, so we can devise a collaborative plan going forward.

With this in mind, I’ve put together a variety of thoughts and questions that reflect some of what may be “in the air” out there in our racing community. They are simply that – starters for a conversation.

Some things on the list might not be practical or even desirable to implement, but they’re included here as they may be able to be adapted, and other ideas may be spawned.

  • Should all meetings just be called Southern Harness with use of individual club names dropped?
  • Is it time to move Diamonds Day to the summer when it could truly become an on-course event worth promoting?
  • With the new end of season programme having been released without a single meeting at Forbury Park scheduled, what is the Park’s future?
  • If Forbury Park is not used, will the dates head south, and would Southern Harness have enough horses to sustain more dates? Of course Forbury gets horses from South Canterbury and Canterbury. Would Canterbury horses travel further south in winter?
  • Will RITA decide that Southern meetings will be held on Thursdays under lights at Ascot Park, with other meetings sprinkled over Saturdays and Sundays?
  • Could racing all year round become a reality in the south, and could Ascot Park become the new winter venue?
  • With an improvement in lighting technology, should we investigate (again) having lights at Ascot Park?
  • Is the current handicap system punter friendly and is drop back properly understood by punters?
  • Would money that’s currently paid out for horses that finish further back than fifth be better used to pay local breeders a bonus? Or could we do both?
  • Do we need to put greater investment into helping young trainers, such as Wyndham has done for Craig Ferguson?
  • Should we run invitation races in the new season (say November) for the points scorers in this seasons Supremacy and Southland Oaks? No group status or group stake, but it could be interesting.
  • How many courses do we require in Southland?

If you would like to share your thoughts on these points or have your own ideas, feel free to email them to me at bwstewart55@gmail.com