Hawkins Bats For 20/20

‘Let’s Try Different Things’

Gold Circle Marketing Executive Graeme Hawkins has reacted to criticism of the Quickfire 20/20 racemeeting concept and given an undertaking to ‘shake things up a bit’ and possibly package the product differently from time to time.

The veteran racing administrator responded after we carried a Facebook post published by a leading KZN Owner in an editorial over the weekend.

Read the original editorial here

Graeme Hawkins

The Owner wrote:

“My view as an owner the 20/20 horse racing at Greyville has become more like a circus. This must be abolished immediately as I will no longer allow my horses to participate in those meetings. For too long I have been talking to guys at the top level and they keep on saying we trying. Now that you have tried it doesn’t work. The industry is not making monies or entertaining anyone on course so please stop it at once. Don’t make a mockery of our horses in this sense. Someone on the top level please take note of this. I heard from a lot of trainers and owners on course last night (Friday)  saying they will not be supporting.”

Hawkins said that he was well aware that there was often a resistance to change and that Gold Circle are never going to please all of the people all of the time but added that the feedback they have had from punters and viewers across the country has been ‘most positive ‘ – some apparently even suggesting there should be such a meeting at least once a month and not only a few times a year!

“We do understand that the 20/20 race meetings come with some inconvenience to owners and trainers and for that reason we intend to stage a maximum of four such race meetings per annum. I was most encouraged to read recently of a call to introduce these 20/20 race meetings in Australia,” he said.

He continued by saying that from a turnover perspective there is no evidence to suggest that the 20/20 race meetings compromise their revenues.

“In fact the 20/20 race meeting in October 2016 yielded the highest turnover during the 1st quarter of the Night Racing Season, only eclipsed during the holiday season in December. To ensure jockeys are not compromised we have reduced the number of apprentice races outside of the 20/20 race meetings to maintain the same number of opportunities for apprentices on an annual basis. It certainly makes economic sense to bring in apprentices from around the country to ride in four races at a meeting rather than in one or two as was previously the situation.”

As regards the Facebook comment, Hawkins suggested that to describe 20/20 race meetings as “a circus”, as allegedly stated by the prominent owner, was most unfortunate.

“Perhaps he just had a bad night!” he mused,

A tragic accident on the N3 near the Pavillion on Friday, which caused huge delays – Duncan Howells took 4 hours to get from Ashburton to Greyville and arrived in time for the seventh race – meant that the 20/20 format ironically probably saved the race meeting from being abandoned.

“I certainly don’t want to ‘oversell’  the 20/20 concept but there is no doubt in my mind that there is plenty of scope for the promoters of the sport of horse racing to try different things. Gold Circle stages more than 110 race meetings annually in KZN. Some are very important feature meetings but most are of the ‘bread-and-butter’ variety. Surely some of these lend themselves to being re-packaged?” he asked.

From an operational viewpoint, Hawkins conceded  that perhaps 20 minutes between races was a little too radical for the ‘purists’.

“Notwithstanding that operationally we have nailed the challenges that such a race meeting presents. Maybe we can settle on 25 minutes between races and allow the horses a little more time in the parade ring before going out for the following race?”

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