With the cost of living sky rocketing, footy crowds down and life feeling a little different in a post peak COVID world, the pressure is on now more than ever to get fans trackside.
While there is no doubt that having the best horses taking on each other and clever programming helps the cause, harness racing bodies need to collectively work together to promote the product Australia wide and grow our audience.
Big race nights and the superstars of the sport are the main drawcards, but if we want people to make the trip interstate - and then tell their mates that it is a must-attend the next year - racing jurisdictions and clubs need to think outside the box and make it an event or carnival to remember.
Queensland looks to be thinking outside that box this winter.
With prizemoney increases, the second running of the successful and exciting Group 1 Rising Sun, a list of social events to attend along with on-track stabling for those travelling, there is no doubt in my mind that Queensland is working hard to draw people along to the Sunshine State. Hopefully the rewards will come with quality horses tackling each other on the track, and big crowds and fans watching nearby.
Can Spirit Of St Louis take the King’s place? How will the star that is Ladies In Red go as she tackles the boys for the first time? Can Leap To Fame improve again on his stunning NSW Derby triumph? There’s so many questions to be answered over the next month and so many things for racing fans to look forward to.
If we want to attract new fans to watch these incredible horses, we need to find ways to make the carnivals and racetrack experiences memorable to leave people eager to return.
On the back of Victoria developing the Aurora Australis series to reach the international trotting market, we need to keep being innovative and creative to generate hype and interest for these big races.
And the free-to-air coverage of the Hunter Cup earlier this year, which was consumed by plenty of self-confessed thoroughbred-only punters, proved that there is an appetite for people to get involved in harness racing.
Now we all need to work together to promote it so we win as a sport.
The opinions expressed in The Forum are those of the author and may not be attributed to or represent policies of Harness Racing Victoria, which is the state authority and owner of thetrots.com.au.