There is something special about a Saturday in the equine world. It is the one day of the week that feels different to all the other days of stock-standard racing. For those interested or involved in the horse racing world, Saturday has always been the true ‘race day’, and the one time of the week that is sacred for those that love a punt.
Regardless of whether it is a carnival full of Group races or not, there is a build up to the Saturday meetings that can’t be paralleled, with newspapers, websites and T.V shows all pushing us towards the highlights of the Saturday afternoon programmes.
There is also something special about being trackside at a Saturday meeting. You can feel the importance in the air. You know there is big money changing hands, you know there is so much hanging on every runner, every race, every meeting. Hearing the interstate races blare around the course, hearing the mug punters cheer randomly so you can no longer hear the call; it all adds to the unique qualities that a Saturday race meeting brings.
Obviously, there is one core reason why Saturdays have garnered such importance. The fact that the majority of punters focus their attention, their time, their energy and their money on one day of the week is brought about by a single manufactured occurrence; that the best horses race for the best money, on the best tracks, all around Australia, all at once.
So can someone please tell me why those involved in shaping the greyhound calendar refuse to understand this? There needs to be one night, consistently, where all the pick of greyhound crop race for the biggest prizes. One night where those that know nothing about our sport can get a perfect introduction to it, and perhaps start a love affair with it.
‘That already happens’ you may say. Thursdays are the main greyhound nights aren’t they? Sure the Melbourne Cup, Adelaide Cup, Brisbane Cup and Hobart Thousand are run on Thursdays, but last time I looked, the Nationals, the TOPGUN, the Perth Cup and the Golden Easter Egg are on a Saturday. So I ask the question again – what is the main greyhound night??
The reality is that the industry heads are so self-obsessed when it come state-to-state operations, that the national uniformity that is needed for the greater good of the sport is routinely ignored. I must argue that the greyhounds need to follow the lead of our equine cousins, and create one night that is ours alone. With the harness industry mainly focussing on Fridays and Saturdays, the traditional Thursday night seems the perfect fit, however it really doesn’t matter what night it is. As long is the highest stake meetings from Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney are Brisbane are seen together and exclusively, then the magical unwritten aura that surrounds ‘dog night’ can be created.
It far too difficult to have this happen when Dapto maidens race directly before a Group 1 race at Angle Park. Or when Grade 5’s at Mandurah are shoved on Sky 2 while we watch Melbourne Cup Preludes run at the same time.
Imagine how good the Nationals series would have been if all the state finals, both sprint and distance were all run within 3 hours of each other. Do you think there would be more interest on the National Grand Final if it was run exactly a week later? You bet there would be. Punters could sit there on one evening and instantly know every runner who qualified, rather than having to follow this ridiculous system of Adelaide, Tassie, Brisbane and half of Melbourne run on Thursday and the rest on seen on Saturday. NSW even had their state heats on a Monday this year, so dogs could go around the U-turn of Bulli. Was it just me or did anyone else not bother punting on those heats and final knowing that the second best race I would see all night was the Launceston Invitation?
It really is a simple concept - If we want more people betting on the puppies than make it easier for them to see the best we have. It will benefit all states if they work together rather than separately, and showcase our product as a whole rather than in bits and pieces.
I consider myself someone who follows the dogs closely, and I find myself scrapping and searching all over the net just to find out when the next big event is. The calendar chops, changes, dances and twirls. Some country cups can even be seen running heats on a Monday then finals on a Thursday or Friday. That makes it easier for people does it?
‘Dog Night’ could be a powerful thing if it is allowed to develop, and really gather momentum just like Saturdays have for the thoroughbreds. To create some predictability and some routine for the convenience for all involved. But until then, I’ll just keep wasting too much time figuring out the upcoming schedule, and changing the channel between trot races every weekend.