Saturday afternoon NSW Country race meetings may be a casualty of the resolved broadcasting dispute which has cost millions of
Saturday afternoon NSW Country race meetings may be a casualty of the resolved broadcasting dispute which has cost millions of

Country racing looks at Saturday mornings



EVERYONE in the racing industry is celebrating the fact that the TV war between SKY Channel and TVN is finally coming to an end.

Now that peace has been found, the big issue facing country clubs is that the racing schedule on SKY Channel is fuller than a pub offering free beer and the goalposts might need to be moved as far as Saturday afternoon racing in the bush is concerned.

As a solution to the issue of races getting lost in the traffic jam of events, Racing NSW Country is planning to replace full Saturday afternoon meetings, considered by some to be the jewel in the crown for country racing clubs, with a pair of four race meetings to be held on Saturday mornings that would be run in conjunction with the TAB races being telecast live from New Zealand.

After a successful Saturday meeting for the Easter Cup and another Coffs Harbour meeting coming up in a week and a half to be hosted by the Nambucca River Jockey club, chairman of the local racing club Alan Johnson says that it's the punters who attend the track that are his main concern if this change eventuates.

"It's a matter of whether the punters are going to come out at 10am for a four race meeting," he said.

"It's only a thought but if you could have enough horses, what if we could hold more than the allowable two non-TAB races after the four TAB races are over to keep people at the track?

"This is where we've got to sit down and work out what's best for us."

The idea behind Racing NSW Country's plan is that make more prizemoney available for those in the industry as a new revenue stream would be created by allowing the New Zealand TAB to bet on the races.

The downside that Johnson was quick to point out is the extra cost involved for the club.

"Anything over and above what we're currently getting is a positive but the minus is that we'd have to open up at 10am and that means more costs for things like wages," he explained.

"We need to add it up and see if it's worth it."

Johnson revealed his preference for the club to host either Friday or Sunday meets to maximise numbers both at the track and watching on television as he believes Saturday meetings get lost among the races coming from the major metropolitan centres.



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