Inflated fields – assessing the consequences about to unfold
The new racing season will be an opportunity to assess the impact of RacingNSW paying at least $3,500 for horses running down to 10th in most races on Saturdays.
That the intention to inflate the size of race-fields will be achieved is beyond question – the issues are about the consequences.
Horses not ready to do their best will be having preparatory runs in races rather than in trials. This matters if, as often, can’t-wins clutter and disrupt the fair running of a race, impeding the free-running of favoured horses.
It is beyond question that the losers in this deal will be most punters and the owners of the better horses – most punters will find that the form guide is less relevant and owners there to win will run into interference from those not.
The beneficiaries, of a contrived policy to inflate fields, comprise a de-facto cartel – it ranges through administrators taking more money from increased TAB and bookmaker betting turnover; corporate bookmakers (now racing sponsors) taking fixed-odds bets from punters more likely to lose; trainers and jockeys having expanded employment opportunities; owners of low-grade horses getting a better chance of recovering costs; syndicate betting operations given rebates to plunder TAB pools and, not least, state governments feeding racing-tax revenues, that first belong in the public purse, directly to racing -- including to subsidize racing in rural areas that has no chance of covering costs.
The mantra of ‘too much racing being never enough’ is flawed.
The consequences of this consensus assault on the pockets of most punters will unfold as the $3,500 inducement to ‘just give a horse a run’ kicks in.
Wait for it: more race outcomes will become ‘rough’ and dividends declared for many race outcomes will look more like a lotto-strike than a race running true to form – especially for trifecta, first-four and quadrella bets.
The way these predictably unfair outcomes unfold in NSW will be told every Saturday – as they have been for Melbourne metropolitan racing for some time now.
My prescient ‘cautions for Melbourne’ now embrace ‘cautions for Sydney’.