Grass-track racing key to club’s success

Tuesday, December 23, 2014
By Shelley Topp

I turn on the TV and tune into Trackside.

It’s  Sunday November 23, a beautiful sunny, warm day, and once again there is a huge crowd at Motukarara Raceway, the home of grass-track harness racing.
The  Banks Peninsula Trotting Club are holding their Christmas at the Races  meeting. It’s perfect picnic weather  and the course is already packed with people for the first race.  At a time when many clubs are struggling to get people to come to their  race meetings, big crowds are not unusual for  the Banks Peninsula Trotting Club.

How do they do it?

They  have some good dates and their meetings  always attract great fields.  They also have  a very hard-working,  enthusiastic and innovative team working behind the scenes   organising  their meetings.  However, other clubs have those assets too, but still struggle to attract good-sized crowds.

So what is the Banks Peninsula club’s secret?

On course the crowd is even bigger than the Trackside cameras show, but there is  a lovely relaxed  vibe, with Christmas decorations everywhere, horses warming up on the track, live music and a sea  of  picnic umbrellas.

Busy day: Paul Davies, President of the Banks Peninsula Trotting Club at their Christmas at the Races  meeting at Motukarara Raceway on Sunday, November 23, 2014. Photo: Shelley Topp

Busy day: Paul Davies, President of the Banks Peninsula Trotting Club at their Christmas at the Races meeting at Motukarara Raceway on Sunday, November 23, 2014. Photo: Shelley Topp

It’s a busy day for club president Paul Davies  but he is happy to find time for a chat.
The club has built up  a “loyal following over the years,” he says.
Today, the corporate part of their meeting is sold out, and the large crowd, including many families with young children, is very pleasing.
He believes the excitement of watching  close-up grass-track racing, and the festive family entertainment  plays a big role in the club’s ability to attract large crowds.
“In my view the public like grass-track racing,” he says. “The grass-track clubs have been attracting good betting results.”
However, he also believes the Motukarara setting is  an important factor as well.
“It’s sheltered from the cold winds and very picturesque.”
The club  put a lot of effort into ensuring  children have  fun  at their meetings too with  plenty of entertainment  for  them so their parents can relax  and  enjoy  their day at the races.
The live music  throughout the day in between races  from  the ever popular  Nashville country and western recording artist John McCabe  also helps. Some people on course even say they would come just to listen to him. His music sets just the right tone and has many people foot-tapping and others dancing.

McCabe will be there again at the club’s end-of-year   Interislander Summer Festival Meeting  on Monday December 29. Mark it  down in your diary for it is certain to be  another day of  exciting  racing including the Wakefield and Williams  Grass Track Championship Final, as well as plenty of other fun and entertainment for the whole family

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