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Friday, February 27, 2015

WDC Thoughts, What Can Be Brought to North America?

Watching the World Driving Championship (WDC) races from New South Wales, Australia it has become clear; we are too provincial in our thinking, unwilling to change to improve the product.  Not that these suggestions will take care of things such as post time drag, the amount of time between races, and the integrity issues real and perceived, but we can make the racing more exciting to watch, less predictable, and increase wagering as people will be enticed by larger payoffs.

For example, let's take a look at this race from the WDC yesterday.

No one can watch this race and say it wasn't exciting despite the length of the race.  What did this race have that we don't have in the North America?

  1. Added distance (2,125 meters equals 1.32 mile)
  2. A second tier 
  3. A lot of movement through out the race

You probably are saying, well these WDC races feature some of the best drivers in the world,  what about regular overnight racing?  Well,, let's look at another race from the same card at Penrith, a conditioned  race for winners of 1 or 2 races at a country meet, with typical drivers racing.

There may hve been a little less movement, but more movement than we typically see; horses are not strung out single file.  You have horses racing three, four wide.  By the time they head into the stretch, everyone is close, and in this case they all came flying at the wire.

Penrith is a half mile oval, starting five across with five in the second row.  Admittedly, when you start five across the horses in the back row have it easier to get involved than in the states where you typically start eight across.  I would never suggest we put eight horses in the back tier on our smaller tracks, but what if we started six across with six in the second row?

Now a track like Menangle, a metropolitan track which is a 7/8th mile oval, starts them 10 across and doesn't have an official second tier but they have standing starts with horses being handicapped as far back as 70 meters (291 feet).  I am not suggesting we move to standing starts but instead of having standing starts we can handicap races by moving horses to a second row even if we cut the number in the front row to even things out (say seven up front and five in the second row).

Some will say it's a different style of racing in Australia.  No doubt about it, a style necessitated by the varied distances of races; something which would develop here.  The point is we can learn something from Australia and from the rest of the harness racing world.  We just need to take the blinders off and look.

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