In a well received move several Perth Racing committeemen, and senior members of the executive, held a morning tea meeting with members on Saturday March 2.
Chief Executive Officer Stephen Wicks said that he was very happy with the meeting and more would follow in an attempt to impart and receive information from members.
“The feedback from the meeting, attended by about 50 members, was very positive” the CEO said of the two hour gathering.
A number of issues were raised relating to the size of racing fields, food and beverage requirements, Perth Cup distance, women in racing, the development of Belmont racecourse, race scheduling, the need for night meetings, promoting the profiles of horses, jockeys and trainers and liquor restrictions.
Perth Racing vice chairman, Harvey Crossman, said that there were three ‘soft’ periods on the racing calendar, including January following the summer carnival and the end of the racing season at both Ascot and Belmont.
“Programming is controlled by RWWA but we have suggested that these flat programs should be tweaked to encourage owners and trainers of provincial type gallopers to race in the city which will encourage field sizes and betting turnover.”
Surprisingly, on the paucity of numbers in summer fields, Mr Crossman said that in a study of numbers in the mainland states WA headed the averages for starters per race in 11 of the last 17 months and was runner up on four occasions.
The vice chairman had less success in convincing some members that the reduction in distance of the Perth Cup (from 3200m to 2400m) was in the best interests of the race.
Food and beverage occupied much of the members questions with criticisms centred on prices, poor quality coffee and service and restriction on liquor sales.
The CEO said that in the past three months there had been a discount for members. However one member said if the aim was to attract people to racing then prices should be reduced everywhere.
In reply Mr Wicks said “we are sensitive to pricing issues and that people can be turned away from our product if they deem prices exorbitant.”
On the café service and offerings he said that this would be reviewed over the next six months looking at menus, coffee and service.
“We do face a challenge in that there are no full timers on our food staff and as we can only offer a casual five hour shift once a week we suffer from good staff moving on to other areas. Our aim is to attract more non-race day events which will grow our staff by offering more consistent shifts and training.”
On liquor the CEO said that Perth Racing will work to have restrictions imposed on the club relaxed.
The committee was also urged to look at greater female involvement in the club and that could include co-opting women into a social committee to broaden racing’s appeal to women.
Attracting new members resulted in plenty of discussion and the CEO said that night and twilight racing would come under discussion for Belmont as part of the new development.
If Belmont was used in that fashion then the seasonal demarcation between Ascot and Belmont would obviously not be as strictly adhered to as it is has been, historically and currently.
Extra shade, seating, bins and toilets were also suggested by members and are part of the Perth Racing plan.
More activities between races is being looked at and even shortening the time between races although this is not easy as Sky Channel set times on a national basis.
The Club was urged to actively promote racing amongst social clubs, retirement villages and sporting organisations.
A new dimension on increasing the interest of members was given by a veteran politician.
A long serving National Party politician, and racehorse owner, Max Trenorden, urged the club to become more politically savvy and that meant the Club should be active in educating MPs in how important racing is as an industry and to the economy.
Although Mr Trenorden’s 27 year old political career finished last Saturday it is instructive to note that the new Liberal MLA for Belmont Glenys Godfrey is a keen racing fan.
The State political tyro, a former mayor of the Belmont City Council, emerged as a giant killer by taking the so-called safe Labor seat off that party.
Both Mr Wicks and Marketing manager, Jamie Chadwick, said the positive attitude of the meeting has encouraged the committee and the executive to hold more of these meetings with members.