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Cups, Cups,Cups - Our Cups Runneth Over

Harness & Greyhounds
Three Cups scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights over Easter. A fantastic field assembled for the $50k Bunbury Cup and some very fortunate connections (just 9 acceptors, only eight runners with the scratching) running for a very lucrative $50k in the level 7/9 front Easter Cup (in practical terms for level 8/9 horses with those above off stand handicaps) with Level 7/8 Westbred horses in the $11k Wagin Cup, which only has a field of 7 acceptors.

The Bunbury Cup is a "gold ticket" for the Fremantle Cup, a 2936m race ridiculously positioned the week after what looks like being a grueling Nullabor
but the runners at Bunbury will be working a lot harder for their share of the $50k than the Easter Cup competitors.Will the Nullabor runners front up for the Freo Cup?  Time will tell but maybe the Freo Cup has a better role as a lead up race over a reduced distance two weeks before? Or as most in the Industry opine, return it to a stand and return it to its traditional February time slot and programme stand races leading into it. It really is in no mans land where it currently is placed. It seems that the important ingredients of imagination and innovative thought are bereft. Just a thought bubble, why not have the Bunbury Cup as a lead up two weeks prior to the Nullabor? .

This surely raises questions for Cameron Brown as he wades through the quicksand trying to right the Harness ship of state. And the main question is programming and when he will act to sort out the mess it has become. Time for new blood perhaps?

Accepting the need to run a $50k race at GP to attract the increased product fee  (the Premium or Prime rate) to receive a better return on investment from the Betting Companies is one thing, and accepting that the Easter Cup has historically been a time honoured stand for our best horses is another but how can a front of L8/9 for $50k be justified?  The week before, the stand was a L10/11 $21k race?  How can that possibly be viewed as a lead up  to the L7/9 Easter Cup? Why weren't these two races "flipped" so to speak?  The L7/9 stand for $21k leading into the L10/11 Cup the week after for say $30k, releasing $20k for an innovative heats and final series for a new race, the Easter Bonnet or whatever?

Has that programming decision eventuated in a diluted field running for a rich stipend? Astute trainer Hall Snr has seen the opportunity with open eyes to run his two returning horses in a $50k stand rather than a normal Friday night $21k race. And why wouldn't he?

But the logic behind the programming just doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

The BOTRA Cup, also a stand for L7/9 horses, ran  for $30k back in July. Where is the consistency in stake allocation? Is there not some sort of matrix for stake allocation to provide consistency? Country Cups for higher class horses (York Cup, Northam Cup, Narrogin Cup) are all over the place on both classes eligible, and stake allocated e.g the York Cup L7/9 stand for $30k, the Northam Cup L7/9 stand for $35k and the Narrogin Cup L15 Mobile FFA for $35k.

All these variations may be part of a master plan of programming spread across a whole season based on a dynamic and flexible assessment in keeping with the current  horse racing  population but if so, it appears well disguised by the repetitive cut and paste weekly set of races that are advertised, with an aside that strangely no $L5  races ever allocated to Pinjarra it seems, instead we now see them regularly on the GP program to make up fields and numbers.

Yet again, everyone received the now almost weekly advice that "Nominations have been extended for both Pinjarra and Gloucester Park on Monday and Tuesday" via text. So. all is far from well in the City of Rome.

To my mind, this is just another example, along with many others previously highlighted, where the programming in conjunction with a patched up HWOE/Conditioned handicap system is not helping the overall product. It would seem that Brown is definitely having a crack at getting things done but there are some glaring elephants in the room that need both acknowledgment and corrective surgery. Rationalising country venues isn't one of them but programming and handicapping are.

Anyway, just a few random thoughts that may or may not provoke some discussion over Easter.

+1 -1

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