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By David Fowler | Tuesday, May 22, 2018

David Fowler is the principal thoroughbred caller for Radio TAB. David, who is a keen form student and punter, has enjoyed a lifetime involvement in the racing media. His personal blog, ‘My Call’, appears exclusively on HRO.

Gai Waterhouse, I expected better of you.

It's rare I'll base a story off another one I read but Gai's rambling, simplistic considerations on Racenet last week concerning the future of the racetrack can't go unchecked.

Might I say we would all share Gai's idealistic vision in varying degrees but you can't live life through rose-coloured glasses.

And it all comes back to what you see as the primary purpose of the racetrack.

In decades past, people went to the races to bet because unless you had a friendly (or unfriendly) SP bookie, that's where you had to be.

I'm firm in my resolve that the racetrack was primarily a place for betting not spectating.

And history's timeline clearly illustrates this. The more technology allowed us to bet off the track, the less people went to the track. Beyond argument.

The theory of "missing a generation" and "dropping the ball" etc etc is nonsense.

People still attend in good numbers on carnival days because it's a social event.

I hate to say it but unless it's Winx or Black Caviar, the dressed-up set won't lunge off their marquee seats to press the horseflesh.

So Gai's observation of people sitting bored in the grandstand between races is pure fiction.

Gai wants shorter time between races.

Well that's fine if you're the only game in town like Sha Tin or Happy Valley except Australia is jam packed with a national racing schedule that produces the betting turnover that produces the prizemoney.

To put it simply and, to put it to bed, it's impossible so don't even think about it.

Gai warns of free entry and better quality food at cheaper prices.

Maybe the ATC can take her through a P and L to show what it costs a race club to run a meeting.

And I won't attribute this to Gai but if one more person tries to compare an RSL/leagues/sports/ club to a racetrack operation, I will tear out what's left of my hair.

These clubs can afford to do A to Z with poker machines churning out revenue by the second.

That doesn't happen at most racetracks.

It's not being defeatist, it's not being negative. It is what it is. The racetrack environment is a totally different beast to what Gai and others fondly remember growing up.

I experienced it too. I have great memories. But that's what they are, memories.

Like all other forms of society, times change.

That's not to say race clubs should just sit back, throw their hands in the air, and hope,for the best.

Particularly on the food and beverage front.

But entertaining allegedly bored grandstand-based racegoers in 20 minute intervals will remain a figment of Gai's vivid imagination.

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David Fowler
David Fowler
Queensland's Own www.horseracingonly.com.au Queensland's Best