SERIOUS PROBLEM: A scene from Lismore Cup day on Thursday. Will the local cups ever be what they once were?
SERIOUS PROBLEM: A scene from Lismore Cup day on Thursday. Will the local cups ever be what they once were?

Comment: Local cups fight falling crowds and poorer fields

NO matter which way we squint through the rose-coloured glasses it is an undeniable fact that the Ballina and Lismore carnivals were hardly the most successful for either club.

The fields at Ballina were bigger and in some cases stronger in class than Lismore, but the crowd figure of 2000 is a real concern.

The crowd at Lismore was a bit more than double that but the fields, especially the Benchmark 65 and the Rousillon, could only be described as dismal both in size and quality, and that was reflected in betting on those two races.

I cannot remember a worse Rousillon, a race with a lengthy history.

The cup, which at a stretch might be classed as reasonable in quality, was disappointing with only 10 runners.

Unless both clubs can find some serious sponsorship dollars things are going to get a whole lot worse.

Queensland, the area that both clubs look to for some quality horses come carnival time, will introduce massive prizemoney increases next Wednesday.

Saturday races in Brisbane will be worth $65,000 and mid-week races $20,000 while prizemoney on the Gold Coast and at Ipswich will go up to $16,000.

Few Queensland trainers will venture across the border for a $50,000 Ballina Cup or a $45,000 Lismore Cup with their good horses when they can stay at home for more money and avoid the costs of sending horses and staff away for the day.

And why would they start horses in minor races worth $15,000 when they can race for more at home?

It is also going to affect field sizes at ordinary mid-week meetings.

Cup carnivals are vital.

It is the one time when clubs hope to make enough money to carry them through the rest of the year.

Ballina, Lismore and Murwillumbah are victims of geography, sitting at the northern end of the state, and it is only natural they look across the border for a percentage of runners.

Worse still, we could see more leakage of locally- trained horses across the border chasing the better prizemoney.

Racing NSW has plans to increase prizemoney but nothing has been forthcoming yet and until that money does materialise a serious problem will remain.

Comment: Half-day holiday essential for Ballina Cup's future

IF Ballina - and by that I mean the business community, the residents and the council - wants the town to have a viable race club then the half-day cup holiday has to stay.

The club is on the verge of a massive re-build of the track to be funded by Racing NSW but what an anti-climax if cup day becomes just another ordinary mid-week meeting as far as crowd numbers are concerned.

Kevin Nipperess has a good point in suggesting that cup day be moved back to Thursday to prevent people regarding it as a long weekend and heading out of town.

Surely it would not hurt for the council and the club to trial that idea first.

Comment: Lismore Cup turnover "a disaster"

SMALL fields lead to poor turnover and that was never more evident than after the first two races on Lismore Cup day.

The combined turnover, including the Rousillon, was $57,688 and that is a figure any TAB club would regard as a disaster on one race, let alone two.

Lismore needs to have a long, hard look at its programming before its carnival next year.

Don't ditch the Rousillon.

It has a long, proud history so for heaven's sake make it a feature race that owners and trainers want to win.



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