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14/9/2001 edition

Flemington Racetrack

Straight races - biased track yet again

The VRC and Terry Watson were heavily praised by the racing media for placing the rail out two metres at Flemington last Saturday and producing a fair racing surface. In the lead-up meetings the rail was out 12 metres and 15 metres so there would be plenty of fresh ground. Previously on this day of the year the rail had been placed back in the True position resulting in a fast lane along the rails.

To be honest, nothing less than a fair racing surface should be acceptable for a track rated Good. So why all the media praise?

Unfortunately 22% of the meeting was on a very biased track. Horses on the inside had no hope in the straight races.

In the 15 horse 1200 metres Bobbie Lewis Group 3 Handicap the field split into two divisions. Seven horses raced on the inside and eight horses went to the outside (grandstand side). The first seven horses past the post raced on the grandstand side!! They drew from barriers eight to 15. The six horses on the inside rail then followed, led by Show A Heart who was unfortunate enough to start from barrier three.

Draw your own conclusions about that type of racing. Apart from anything else it makes form very difficult to follow. It makes it pretty tough to line up the form when these horses meet at another track or meet horses with form from other tracks.

How do you rate the win of Scenic Peak who drew barrier 14? How do you rate the run of Calm Smytzer who finished third and drew barrier 15, the extreme outside? How do you rate the run of Show A Heart who drew barrier three and was beaten by four lengths, but did comfortably beat the rest on the inside. If Show A Heart had drawn the outside would he have won?

If the VRC cannot produce fair racing down the straight then races down the straight should be abandoned or limited to fields of eight with a stipulation that no horse is to go to the outside.

As a spectacle for punters at the track, big fields racing down the straight are shocking. As a spectacle for punters watching the product delivered by Sky Racing, races down the straight don't exist. They are 400 metres sprints.

Why do we say that? Because Sky Racing might as well tell their viewing audience just before the horses jump that there will be sound only until the 400. Then they will televise the whole race.

The way they televise races down the straight is not what many viewers want to see. For example, in the 1200 metres Flemington race we have just talked about, within 100 metres of the jump Sky gave viewers a very nice close up picture of the seven horses racing on the inside. What were the eight horses doing on the outside? They weren't in the picture.

Then at the 600 Sky gave viewers a very nice close up picture of the eight horses racing on the outside. What were the seven horses doing on the inside? They weren't in the picture.

Only with 400 metres to go did Sky decide that you, the viewer, would see the whole field racing.

When close ups of the field are shown in nondescript New Zealand maiden races, Sky splits the screen in two, also showing a picture of the entire field. Is that too technically difficult for them to do when televising Australian racing?

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