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Turf Deli Horse Of The Week
Changing Rooms at Sandown / VATC 17/10/01

Obviously the big news in racing this week has been the decision by the Victorian Amateur Turf Club (VATC) to rename themselves the Melbourne Racing Club (or MRC - but not to be confused with the MRC that is the Mornington Racing Club, or the MRC that is the Metropolitan Roof Colouring, or the MRC that is Mike's Reconditioned Caravans). Some graphic designer is probably hard at work designing a logo involving nondescript blobs as we speak, representing horses, punters and owners living in equine harmony.

Even bigger is the decision to build another track at Sandown (a fine monument to what mankind can do with concrete slabs in a deserted paddock) at a cost of around about $40 million dollars. Surely, it would have been easier to just get the Backyard Blitz guys in to knock it off one weekend whilst the CEO was away, maybe with a nice French Provincial feel and a paved al fresco dining patio for the home entertainer. Two tracks, Hillside and Lakeside (which does make them sound like housing estates - they have just left out the 'just 20 mins from the CBD' spiel). Of course, they have missed out on a huge opportunity by splitting the tracks in two - how about running fields of 36 !! What a spectacle - the average Sandown mid week meeting during winter with eighteen runners is tough enough as it is - might as well make it a real raffle and go the whole 36 - maybe they could choose which course they want to take then join back up again at the end.

We have to admit we think Caulfield is the best track in Melbourne for accessibility and user friendliness, so it’s a bit sad to have a reduction in the number of meetings. Personally we have always found Sandown meetings a bit tough to bet on, because of the large even fields. Sandown is not the most popular race track around as far as attracting crowds, so basically we are heading here towards a Teletrak style proposal with the majority of meetings being run for the TAB customer at home or on the net, and just a ghost crowd at the meeting. That’s really what we are talking about here isn't it ? So it’s a big plus for the quality of racing at Caulfield, but a big plus for the quantity of racing over all. Which makes it a plus, just…we think.

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