I read the latest edition of the Horseplayer's Magazine and they spoke of the national handicapping championship to be held this month in Vegas. Handride linked a press release about it on his blog, noting that since ESPN is not covering it this year, Twin Spires has created an update channel with live video and reporting from Jill Byrne. Bravo.
Now, what about ours for harness here in Canada?
I went to the last one - not as a qualifier of course - at Woodbine. It was done well, with Trot people, and Woodbine providing a nice venue, some food and drink and all the rest (Woodbine bashers can choose something else to bug them about; this was well done). However, there was no coverage on the Woodbine in-house show, or anywhere else. I frankly enjoyed being there to see how a few friends were doing, and am generally interested in these contests as they are entertaining. But if I was not there I would have had no idea it was going on, and no idea who was winning. It was done in a vacuum.
To possibly correct this, my idea is quite simple: Run the National Handicapping contest on North America Cup night, when it is on the Score television network. Devote much of the show to the contest. Highlight handicappers, the big prize and everything else. Apparently, although we lobby government constantly in racing, there is a rule that we can not show betting on the airwaves. Why, in this day and age when Party Poker can show it and we can't is beyond me, but here is something we can show. We can show 10's of thousands at stake and the decisions behind them. We can show personalities if there are any. It can be filmed, updated and edited for the web.
I am not the first or the last to say this: Enough with stories on feed men driving around in a truck full of hay that monopolizes the coverage both here, and on ESPN and other networks! They have not worked to gain us fans for 50 years, and won't now. It is time to use our TV time better, and more efficiently. "Watch someone earn $25,000 this Saturday on the Score."
If a handicapper falls in the forest does anyone hear it? Let's make sure people hear it; loud and clear. This is one way that we can do it. Our TV time is precious, and it should be treated as a privilege, and every second should be used to maximize its reach. Let use it right.