Organisers hammered as Hobart Cup attracts underwhelming crowd

The Hobart Cup 2017
The Hobart Cup is a great race but the organisers have come under fire after a small crowd turnout.

PUNTERS have blasted the organisers of Tasmania’s marquee race day after just 5,000 patrons turned up for Sunday’s Group 3 Hobart Cup.

A date change for the marquee event of Tasmania’s Summer Racing Carnival, left potential attendees in the dark as to when the race was on. The Tasmanian Racing Club moved the $200,000 race forward to allow horses more time to prepare for the Launceston Cup, to be run on February 22.

The only problem is the Cup, won by the Scott Brunton-trained Count da Vinci, was not advertised properly to the Tasmanian public.

On the Tasmanian Racing Club website, an information page for Hobart Cup Day had the event date listed as late as Monday morning as Saturday, February 11.

On course bookmakers were left counting the cost of the smaller crowd after a ‘social’ crowd decided against emptying their pockets on the big race.

“It’s more socialising than betting at the moment,” one on-course bookmaker lamented.

“I’d be happy with a small crowd as long as they all had a bet, but there’s not many punters here, it would be the smallest I’ve ever seen.”

Despite the backlash, the racing club is digging its heels in.
Shayne Stevenson, CEO of the Tasmanian Racing Club, said the club would look at keeping the event on the first weekend of February.

“There’s no doubt we’d like to get more people at the races, but it’s such a spread-out venue. There’s certain sections where there’s not as many people,” he said on Sunday.

‘We didn’t know it was on’

For a state that is struggling to maintain the public interest in horse racing, the consequences of the Tasmanian Racing Club failing to adequately advertise the change of date of the Hobart Cup could prove diabolical.

The public took to social media to bash the organisers, who have come under heavy fire for the date change and running of the event, held at Luxbet Park in Glenorchy.

One Facebook user took to an event page to eviscerate the state industry as a whole.

“Horse racing is well and truly on the way out in Tasmania. Public support and interest in this cup carnival has collapsed in recent years – and a good thing too,” the user named Jeremy said.

Others said the venue was ill-equipped to handle even the smaller crowd.

“It was probably good attendance was down … I went and all the ATMs ran out of cash.” Facebook user Christy said.

“You can’t bet with no money and you could only buy drinks with cash, no EFTPOS facilities. Plus they kept running out of certain beverages. And the official website still said the 11th.”

Our take – Without punters horse racing dies, so treat them with respect

The Hobart Cup is one of the feature events of Australian racing and the centrepiece of the Tasmanian Racing Carnival. A group three race worth $200,000 like the cup should have attendances routinely hitting five figures.

So the question remains, why exactly was the event brought forward and who is in charge of the marketing department?

The event date has since been updated but to have the race date listed wrong a week from race day on the Tasmanian Racing Club website is nothing short of unfathomable.

Horse racing is a lifeblood of Australia, and for such a big event to have a glaring oversight is profoundly irresponsible for an industry that is struggling to maintain interest as it is in the Apple Isle.

Get your act together Tasmanian Racing Club – the horse racing industry needs strong state involvement across all areas of Australia.

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