WE’VE got Group 1 racing in Melbourne for the first time this season and there’s no excuse not to go to Caulfield tomorrow.
In a decision that should be followed by race clubs around the country, it’s free entry to the Underwood Stakes program.
While the Melbourne Racing Club (which runs Caulfield, Sandown and Mornington) might still be behind in the prestige stakes compared to Flemington’s Victoria Racing Club, it no doubt looks after the general public a lot better.
This was the same club that threw the gates open on a day Black Caviar raced.
No doubt it could have sold a minimum 20,000 tickets at $20 a pop that day, but the club encouraged as many people as possible to enter its track to see a champion in the flesh.
Meanwhile, the VRC was flogging off tickets for $25 the other day to get into a non-Group 1 meeting.
That’s just plain theft.
The only thing the Melbourne Racing Club, along with just about every other club in the country, needs to fix is the cost of food and drink.
It’s one thing to get into the track for free, but when the outsourced catering companies are charging $5 for a bottle of Coke and $7 for a sandwich (and not a very nice one) then it can become an expensive exercise.
But at least the MRC is heading in the right direction.
I don’t expect the races to be free all of the time, but I reckon clubs are mugs for charging punters to get into midweek meetings, even the Wednesday metropolitan meeting, because bums on seats is still vital to the industry.