For The Optimist (.co.nz)
✍🏼by Luke Kemeys
Published 26 July 2019
Last week I ventured to Blenheim to catch-up on some family time and then headed over to see some of the BGP faithful in Nelson. A group of 10 of us went out for dinner where we snuck in the last couple of races from Belmont and a few money bags off the starters menu.
These boys had previously attended the Captain Cook Stakes when Kawi was big, bold, black and back when claiming his final Group One. Before that weekend ended, I mentioned that a good mate of mine, Mark, was looking to move to Nelson and if he did I’d get them in touch with each other as he knew no one in town.
Fast forward two years and these boys all now play footy, cricket, and the odd pokie machine together. With their partners, they have had plenty of good times and have supported each other through some challenging times on a personal front. They’ve bumped into a fellow BGP member who is now training them a trotter which they’ve snapped up 50% of after having too many or too few jars.
This is BGP and it’s community aspect in full flight. If that wasn’t enough, one of that same crew has organised a 10-person syndicate to head to the Victoria Derby in October with the BGP tour group and stay on for the Melbourne Cup. The intangible benefit that BGP is having on the entire industry is not always visible and realistically can not be measured, but as the smart clubs understand, you never know if one of these people will become your biggest sponsor and equally for the on-to-it trainer, your next owner.
It’s what BGP is all about. It brings people together, like-minded people. Something that was missing when a few mates and I first took an interest in racing. I know that some people on the outside think that BGP is just punting & ‘lads’, and whatever other negative bullsh^t spin they put on it to feed their own insecurities or lack of action, but for all we have achieved in this struggling industry, the above types of story are ones that have instilled us most, with pride.
During the week, we also said a big welcome to the BGP family to ‘Boys Get Paid’ – an exceptionally well-named greyhound who will be blazing around the tracks soon. We’ll keep you posted before his debut – congratulations to everyone that got involved in the syndicate to make this happen, Ben is pumped to have pulled it off with so many of you taking a share.
Something that always intrigues me is that when I talk to a lot of smart people outside of the racing industry, they are completely unaware that racing is struggling and almost on its knees. It always fascinates me as I wonder if it goes back to that mentality that it is, or was, ‘the Sport of Kings’ or whether the game doesn’t receive enough widespread coverage for it to be at the forefront of people’s minds. I suspect it is the latter.
The older and wiser generation of these people always have a connection back to racing, so they are themselves are intrigued about what happened. Where do you start? Well, they are also far too wise than to take 3 hours of their life and hear me explain how I think it all went wrong. For racing to prosper, I think we are going to need to get a lot more people in on the journey of revival so that they can feel a part of it, and have their own story to tell others.
That’s effectively our grand plan with the Karaka Million night – in 2020 it will be to give 600 people who attend, their best-ever race day experience which will then lead them to another form of involvement in racing, whether that be by returning, attend another race meeting or telling a mate they have to come the following year. The same with the Punters Club and those that can’t be on course – the same formula but from a punting perspective.
In 2022 when over 20,000 people attend the Karaka Million race day, we are going to look at each other – then the people that are there for the first time and we will have known that this was going to happen. Better still, we’ll all have been a part of the journey.
Trust The Process – Expect The Results.