I feel very sorry for the Doomben course manager Jim Roberts in regards to the goings-on in Queensland on Saturday.
Three months ago at a meeting at Bundamba, favourites dominated, and provided a great day for the punters. However all the vocal non-winning trainers complained that the track was too firm.
With the advent of more money for race clubs, a lot of administrators have become irrigation specialists.
At Doomben on Saturday, the track was described as a good-4. As Andrew Bensley said that morning, there is “little difference between good and a heavy track”!
When a track is constantly watered, the roots don’t grow down, so the ground deteriorates over a meeting, obviously more so if you race every week.
Around the back of the course, a horse put its foot in a hole, broke down, and was subsequently put down. This hole was caused by wear and tear – wear and tear Doomben can’t handle. In recent (watering) times Doomben starts to fall apart anyway as the day goes on – this is evident when comparing times from early and late in the meeting. With Eagle Farm falling by the wayside, Doomben has to handle the bulk of Brisbane metro racing. Adding water to an already shifty track – water incidentally that wind and other factors won’t allow to fall exactly where it is aimed, to me is idiotic. With adding water to a shifty surface, that the track only has one way to go, and that is to fall apart. The incident on Saturday resulted in the rail at Doomben having to be moved out before the Group 1 races, and this resulted in a lower than expected betting turnover. Watering the track provides a false narrative, as trainers generally scratch their horses when a track gets to the soft / heavy range, but they rarely scratch when a track is good to firm. The trainers might complain that a track is too hard, but they rarely scratch their horses due to ‘firmness’ when compared to those who scratch regularly due to ‘heaviness.’ In my experience on the stand, punters are much more comfortable betting on a firm track, and as such, only tracks that are dead, meaning not growing, should be fixed and irrigated at current levels. Nature has a great way of making grass even. When 100 horses twice a week are racing on one track (with all trying to be near the rail), and then the powers-that-be try and irrigate every inch of the track at an even rate (utterly impossible), we are left with a shifty surface, and on the odd occasion we have tragedies. Eagle Farm is out of the mix, and as such Doomben needs to be approached with more lateral thinking. Adding extra water to a track during a winter carnival is madness in my book.
Thank goodness Gold Coast, who race every week, don’t make the watering mistake.
Unfortunately Racing in NSW does not own Sky Sports Radio – the former 2KY. If they did, the local Sydney product would garner much more attention than it did on Saturday. We had a wonderful meeting at Randwick, but all the racing presenters, and seemingly all attention was on ‘brilliant Brisbane.’ The on-air team actually moved to Brisbane! At Randwick we saw a filly She Knows thrash her male counterparts while carrying 62.5kg; plus we saw a great Queensland Derby trial by John O’Shea’s progressive gelding Live And Free.
Radio RSN in Victoria understands that Victorian racing is a quality product, and as such, be it Golden Slipper Day in NSW or Stradbroke Day in Queensland, the Victorian racing media, still totally concentrates on their product in their own backyard. This is the way it should be. Sure, give credence to the Group 1 racing, but when there is a quality meeting at headquarters in Sydney like there was yesterday, more attention needs to be paid to the local product.
As previously published: