Surely this weekend sums up everything that is wrong in NZ racing and answers quite a few questions.
Te Rapa and Riccarton aren't minor country tracks, that are supposedly causing most of the problems; they are two of our top four or five metropolitan tracks. And there is nothing wrong with their stakes, but to be brutally honest a lot of the fields are rubbish despite reasonable stakes.
The Dyke at Te Rapa has attracted exactly the same field for $400,000 that it would have got for $200,000, and a pretty ordinary field at that. It shows that stakes are not our problem. Structure is a much bigger problem. We have far too many 2,000m WFA races scattered randomly throughout the season, all attracting poor fields.
Riccarton gets six horses for a $35,000 race. Hardly surprising really, following only a week after a major meeting at Wingatui. The SI doesn't have the horses to be running major races at Riccarton every second week with Otago and Southland holding major meetings on the Saturdays between. And Otago and Southland have for some bizarre reason held low key midweek meetings with only seven races for the last three weeks, whereas the last minor meeting in Canty was mid December. Totally mindboggling really. How do they expect horses to get through the grades and fill the tighter class races?
I wonder if anyone has ever thought outside the square and thought of running a 1,200m 3yo race at Riccarton. It wouldn't clash with the Guineas down south. Perhaps even an 1,800m 3yo as an Oaks or Derby lead-up. Anything to shake up the "lets drag last year's programme out of the draw" school of programming.
Many people on here love discussing the merits of pouring $20m into an allweather track and would love to create a few $1m races and close down a few dozen tracks, but as I have said many times most of the problems are structural and just down to administrative incompetence and don't actually take much to resolve. Handicapping probably comes into this category as well. With all of the highly paid administrators about it is pity none of them have any interest or skills in the areas of dates and programming and general structural matters.
What a pity we can't get the basics right. Then perhaps start thinking about building an all weather track somewhere.