Just over three months into Tasmanian harness racing’s bravest experiment, questions remain over the long-term future of trotting races.
Trotters returned to the state in July after an absence of almost 100 years and, in some respects, the move has been reasonably successful.
Fields have been small but the racing competitive and some of the participants bold enough to get a trotter have fared well financially.
But, in the absence of the promised telecasts into France, which were to have funded the extra races, will trotting prove to be commercially viable?
Barrie Rattray, president of BOTRA, the state’s peak participant body, says that is a question that now needs to be answered.
“I am concerned where trotting is going,” Rattray said.
“While we clearly need more numbers, I agree that the trotting races have been pretty successful.
“But they were supposed to have been sold to France to earn good money and pay for themselves.
“I sold it to the industry on that basis and the races went ahead on that premise.
“But, as far as I’m aware, only one race has been sent to France.
“So, after being pretty positive about it at the start, I’m feeling pretty negative at the moment.
“I think it’s a case of no pictures, no product.”
Rattray said there were now concerns at all levels and he had posed the “where are we heading” question at a recent industry meeting.
“I think everyone would like to know what is the end game and where do we want to land,” he said.
“It’s a big call to say there will be a (new) breeding industry when we’re struggling to save the breeding industry we’ve got.”
TEN CAISSES HAS MADE GOOD CASE
Not surprisingly, Latrobe trainer Adam Emery is very positive about the future of trotting races and is confident they will survive beyond the trial period.
Emery prepares the state’s most successful trotter, Ten Caisses, whose nine starts since coming from South Australia have netted four wins and five placings and earned $22,000.
But Ten Caisses had to overcome a 30m handicap to win over 2579m in Hobart on Friday night so could soon be handicapped out of the shorter races.
Emery is now in the process of getting another trotter, NSW mare Hard Done By, and expects other trainers to follow suit.
“I know at least a couple of other trainers who have got horses coming so I’m very confident that the trotting races will continue,” Emery said.
“I think they’re great to watch and I’d like to see them add the odd mobile race to the calendar to create even more interest.”