In a move that’s taken inspiration from the success of T20 cricket Racing Victoria is looking at putting racing on a diet.
Chief executive Rob Hines is looking at trying to find space for a condensed race program somewhere on the already hectic calendar.
He said the reason for this was about specifically targeting the 18-35 age group which at the moment may be put off by the seven hours the average meeting takes to complete.
“The length of time an average race day takes with 40-minute gaps is just too long,” Hines said.
Rather than creating a whole new card Hines has picked out night racing at Moonee Valley and Cranbourne as the best avenues for experimentation.
“With less congestion of (racing) product that is going to be our laboratory for trying new things and trying to attract new people,” Hines said.
“We will be looking to build on the success of Moonee Valley. We’re not going to try for a revamp of every race day, but with a consistent night season we have a real opportunity to innovate.”
Moonee Valley has already had success running events 30 minutes apart and Hines believes that may be as close as they can get.
“We’ve proven with Moonee Valley nights we can run races at 30-minute intervals and I think that is as short as we will be about to go,” he said.
The plan would be to drop to the same spacing throughout the week with a small concessions for Saturdays.
“We would like to be able to do 30 minutes on other weekdays, but Saturdays are always going to be an issue.
“Our next step is to get to 35-minute gaps.”
He says key to any success though would be the cooperation of the other states.
RVL went solo with a trial of 30 minute gaps on a Tuesday meet but turnover dropped due to clashes with races in other states.
As a result Hines feels this need to be a national conversation and one that includes the major broadcasters.
“The co-ordinating body is Sky and they have many obligations and not all of them are thoroughbred,” Hines said.
“We’re trying to find a position – 35 minutes – where other states will agree so we can give the punter evenly spaced racing.
“It is a complex issue and we have to take it in small steps, but we have shown with night racing at Moonee Valley that 30-minute gaps work well and we will have 30 minutes between races when Cranbourne starts racing under lights.”