by Grant Morgan: Last week the Gold Coast Turf Club made what I feel is a most worthwhile change to the way it conducts barrier trials.
Trial runners were asked to parade in the mounting yard prior to going out onto the track. In the past, runners went straight out to the track via ‘the gap’ and returned to their tie up stalls post trial.
The new format has two major benefits.
Firstly, I think it better simulates what a horse will be asked to do on raceday. By asking them to parade in the mounting yard pre trial and return there post trial, the horses are replicating what will be asked of them on raceday. They are already used to going out to the track direct from the tie ups. But the mounting yard is a whole new experience. I can really see this assisting Gold Coast trainers with young Magic Millions bound two year-olds.
Secondly, the new format is owner friendly. Owners pay the bills and we need to look at making the whole product more owner friendly. Barrier trials are now a vital part of the preparation of horses before they head to the races. Trainers are using them prolifically these days. Much more than they did and I can only see this increasing.
For many first time owners barrier trials are the first taste they have of the ownership experience. The new format better services owners who attend trials. They will be able to comfortably see their horse, trainer and rider pre and post trial. To the credit of the Gold Coast Turf Club, they have for some time now opened up part of the stand to cater for owners attending. This particularly beneficial in the peak of summer. Being able to watch on the other side of air conditioned glass is highly appealing.
It’s no surprise that this initiative came from the Gold Coast Turf Club, which has always been the most progressive race club in Queensland. They are fortunate to have one of the better CEO’s in Steve Lines. I don’t mind saying that Lines is the best CEO since former boss Scott Whiteman departed to Victoria more than a decade ago. Whiteman was a very good operator, but Line's is certainly in the same class.
And in recent times the club has added former QRIC steward Ian Brown to the team as Racing Manager. No doubt the new trial format had some of Brown’s polish to it. QRIC’s loss was the Gold Coast’s gain.
It's easy to bag race clubs, so credit when credit is due. Particularly for new initiatives.
If the new Gold Coast trial format proves a winner, I think Racing Queensland should be proactive in encouraging and assisting other clubs to follow suit.