The GRNSW blog went to some trouble to add some gloss to the performance of Northern River clubs recently – lots of races and plenty of dogs around Casino, Lismore and Grafton, it said. They could also have mentioned Tweed Heads, which has got no favours from the administration but does possess TAB coverage for its huge auditorium, usually packed out on Saturday afternoons with gallops punters.
Well, yes, it is a lively area, and well supported. But there is a bit more to it than that.
For a start, fields are bolstered by lots of maidens and squibs’ 305m races at Grafton. And they are not always full. Last week Casino ran short fields in six of its ten races, while Grafton had two – both in the 305m category. Lismore’s midnight fling on Saturday was also short in a couple.
Of course, the trick with the Rivers is that it is really better titled as Queensland’s Deep South. Without their contribution, Ipswich and Albion Park fields would be in dire straits. Even with them, it is not easy. For example, today’s Albion Park nominations were held open due to a shortage of dogs. Even before scratchings, it finished with two short fields and no reserves in seven others. Its main meeting each week contains at least two maidens or restricted win events.
The other key issue is whether we can afford them all, given today’s tough economic climate in NSW greyhounds. The co-existence of Casino and Lismore sticks out as an expensive duplication. They are only 32 km apart and both offer much the same sort of service to the area dog population . By comparison, both Richmond and the now-closed Penrith tracks are twice as far away from Wentworth Park.
No doubt both the northern clubs will have their good points. Casino is a beef cattle centre and does have the benefit of a licensed club but it’s not very large otherwise. Lismore is the regional capital, a substantial town and the site of the university. From an economic angle, it is a nonsense that both tracks exist. Far better to concentrate the effort on one.
BUT NOT ENOUGH
Do you know that our surveys reveal that for the last several years just over 13,000 dogs have been racing at any one time in Australia? The number changes a bit from season to season but, overall, it’s much of a muchness.
Simultaneously, the four eastern states have been adding races for dogs drawn from the bottom of the barrel – C class, Tier 3, Restricted Win (even now at Wenty), and so on – which has had the predictable result of creating more short fields.
Packed TAB programs mean the available cash has crept up a little but it has also thinned out pools. Clashes between SKY1 and SKY 2 don’t help genuine punters either.
Some dollars are better than other dollars.
AND MORE TO COME
Speaking personally, I find the odd coverage of gallops racing on free-to-air TV boosts my interest in the races. (My building, like many, does not rate a Pay-TV system). Consequently, the deal just struck to run another 20-odd Saturday meetings on Channel 7 must be a positive move. It may even reverse that code’s steady decline in market share. It certainly will not help the other two codes which need much more sophisticated promotional efforts to attract and retain customers.
AND HERE’S ONE WAY TO DO THAT
It was fascinating to read that the mighty Apple company was in a spot of bother. According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald (Jan 17), Apple’s market capitalisation has dropped by $US150 billion from its $US600 billion peak. A few causes are advanced by analysts but the most intriguing was that the brand is no longer “cool”.
Apparently, teens and young adults are not “liking” Apple any more so, despite the company’s huge cash backing, share buyers have turned off.
These things may be cyclical, of course, but it does point to the need to keep you finger on the pulse. Social media advances mean that the word gets around very quickly.
So, is greyhound racing cool or uncool amongst today’s younger generation? Or are they just disinterested?
Last year’s spectacular success of the Miata-Black Caviar promotion for the Sandown Cup found cool customers coming out of cracks in the ground. Melbourne people saw the worth of quality races and quality dogs. TAB takings were huge. But that was a once-off. Since then Melbourne has expanded city meetings to 12 races, thereby catering to more maidens and one-win dogs. Late night races at the Cranbourne Cup meeting were battling to pull in $5,000 on the NSW Win tote. Nothing cool there.
The racing program and the greyhound code’s approach to the public need a major overhaul. A cool one.