Racing: Selling young people on a day at the races

By Mike Dillon

What fantastic Trackside images of the Massey University students enjoying their planned knees-up at Manawatu races on Saturday.

Boy, were they having a time.

And that's what it's all about.

It brings you back to an obvious conclusion - how many Palmerston North 18 to 20 year olds would wake up on a Saturday morning and, with no prompting, say: "I think I'll go along to the Awapuni races on my own today and have a great time"?

None.

But, give those same people a reason to go in groups of 40 to 60 to 100 and organise a huge party, with celebratory factors, and, suddenly, you've got a different scenario.

That was Saturday's snapshot. Three races from the finish of the programme the students were rocking. Boy, were they rocking.

Palmerston North isn't exactly the social capital of the Southern Hemisphere. Remember what John Cleese said: "If you're contemplating suicide and can't quite get there, a night in Palmerston North will get you over the line."

They named their rubbish tip after him.

Which is why the young locals are up to being seduced by attractive options. A good afternoon, with celebrity racing on a track like Awapuni, with its fabulous new facilities, is perfect. Saturday proved it.

My two youngest daughters have been attracted to horse racing simply because of the Auckland Racing Club's quickfire champagne summer meetings. Along with a good percentage of similar young people, they love it as a dress-up opportunity, something becoming very rare, even in Auckland.

There is no mystery. You cannot continue with what was the traditional racing product. It has been boring to the younger brigade for the past two decades. Ordinary public bars will not attract those seeking glamour and excitement.

In hopefully ever increasing pockets we've now proved it works if you promote the right product of the times.

C'mon.

•What was the quote at Moonee Valley on Saturday, look out anything that is taking on More Joyous in the Cox Plate?

It's a fair call.

Last year, we were all tipping More Joyous to be beaten in the Cox Plate. Not so sure that's the call this year.

She is a female tank. She had to be shaken up only slightly to win Saturday's A$100,000 Sheraco Stakes.

•The first two races at Moonee Valley on Saturday highlighted just how good New Zealand horses need to be when they get across the Tasman to have a crack at the Aussies.

It puts in perspective the value of Zurella's win in the previous week's Let's Elope Stakes at Flemington.

The two horses on Saturday, Philippi and Love For Ransom, had each had one start apiece for debut wins. Both stepped up enormously in terms of class for their second starts and both came from impossible home-turn positions to score.

Philippi looks a 3-year-old staying prospect of enormous potential. Trainer Mick Kent and rider Luke Nolan both declared the colt immature and likely to strike his best in the autumn, but if he strikes the right race in the spring, don't be surprised if he takes the money in stakes company.

The finish Love For Ransom turned on was remarkable and Victorian trainer Greg Eurell has a stunning spring prospect.

- NZ Herald

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