TASMANIAN harness racing appears to be caught between a rock and a hard place as it battles dwindling on-course attendances.
On one hand, it needs to race in a timeslot that maximises exposure (through Sky Channel) and betting turnover.
On the other, if it wants to keep people going to the track, it needs to race in a timeslot that appeals to spectators.
The Launceston Pacing Club, hit by a downturn in attendances that has impacted on its gate receipts, catering and bar sales, last week posted a simple question on Facebook.
What could it do to improve crowd numbers?
It received 80 responses and a large majority had the same answer _ stop racing on Sunday nights.
The Sunday night timeslot was considered to be particularly unappealing to families with children who had to attend school the following day.
It was also slated for its lack of atmosphere, with no corresponding meetings of any note to appeal to punters.
The deviation from the initial twilight concept _ fast-paced action with a race every 20 minutes _ was also criticised.
There are now much longer gaps between races and, instead of a compact three-hour format, meetings can drag on until well after 9pm.
Some respondents said that clubs just had to make Sunday night racing work, as good betting turnover was essential for industry survival.
But most admitted that it was a difficult task.
The option of moving local meetings to a more appealing timeslot _ perhaps, Friday or Saturday nights or Saturday afternoons _ and accepting Sky 2 coverage was also mooted.
That is assuming Sky 2 coverage would be available.
Obviously there is no easy answer, or it would have been acted on well before now, but it is equally obvious that the code has to do something.
If crowd numbers reflect the overall interest in harness racing among the general public, then there is a serious problem that must ultimately impact on betting turnover as well.