Good Friday racing not on the agenda in Tasmania

The Devonport Racing Club has no plans to apply for a race meeting on Good Friday despite the success of this year’s ground-breaking meeting at Ascot in Western Australia.

EASTER WINNER: Gemini, ridden by Nathan Punch, wins at Spreyton on Easter Monday. There are no plans to move the meeting to Good Friday. Picture: Greg Mansfield

EASTER WINNER: Gemini, ridden by Nathan Punch, wins at Spreyton on Easter Monday. There are no plans to move the meeting to Good Friday. Picture: Greg Mansfield

DRC chairman Barry Milton said the idea had never been discussed at club level or with Tasracing.

“I spoke to Tasracing on Monday about other matters but nothing came up about that,” he said.

“I’ve seen the proposed race dates for next season and we are still down to race on Easter Monday.

“That’s a more traditional date for Easter racing in Tasmania, given what we used to have at Deloraine.”

The Ascot meeting, the first Good Friday program in Australia, attracted a crowd of 6476 which Perth Racing managing director John Yovich hailed as a “smash hit.”

“It’s been a big success and we’ll be racing again on this day next year,” Yovich said.

However, to keep it in perspective, the greater Perth area does have a population of 2.06 million.

And, the initiative wasn’t popular with everyone.

Veteran jockey Danny Miller boycotted the meeting.

“They’re not respecting the meaning of Easter,” Miller told The West Australian newspaper.

 “It seems they are only interested in money.

“I go to church on Good Friday.

“There’s enough racing dates already. I think it’s ridiculous to also race on Good Friday. This is totally wrong.”

Christmas Day is now Australia’s only race-free day.

Although Spreyton’s Easter Monday meeting will never match what used to happen at Deloraine – once the third best-attended race day in the state behind the Launceston and Hobart cups – Milton said it was gradually increasing in popularity.

“The crowd was bigger than last year and more than we get at a normal meeting,” he said.

“I ordered more racebooks than usual and it was just as well I did.

“We were full downstairs, half full upstairs and there was quite a lot of people on the lawn.”

There were calls on social media for Tasmania to “cash in” on Good Friday racing while it remains a novelty but history suggests the benefits might be short-lived.

Those with good memories will recall that the move from Saturday to Sunday racing in Tasmania in 2001 was supposed to be a godsend for the state.

It promised a much better coverage from Sky Channel and, with less competition for the punting dollar, significantly higher betting turnover.

Then the idea of Sunday racing caught on and Tasmania, once the pioneer, eventually found itself lost in a hectic schedule and, at times, has even come under pressure to give up its slot.

Good Friday may be an open canvas at the moment, but for how long?

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