As we know, the 2023 Inter Dominion series returns to Queensland.
Moreso, Albion Park.
The last time the APHRC hosted an Inter Dominion series was back in 2001, the Grand Finals went the way of the Kiwi’s with Yulestar winning the pacing final while Take A Moment scored in the trotters final.
The APHRC was set to host the 2009 series but owing to the Russ Hinze Grandstand being condemned the year prior, the series was switched to the now defunct Parklands complex on the Gold Coast and former North American star Mr Feelgood etched in his name into the history books.
And with the most recent series about to be wrapped up in Victoria, there’s a recurring question that’s being posed.
What’s happened to the Inter Dominion?
A classic Trans-Tasman rivalry featuring the best of the best (pacers & trotters) and staged across three heats and a final within a two-week window while all states of Australia plus both islands of New Zealand were on a hosting rotation.
This format worked wonderfully well for decades, it was the flagship event for the industry, and everyone looked forward to being part of it, directly or indirectly.
Calendars were marked and it was always a “must attend” event, holidays were even juggled around the series.
Being crowned Inter Dominion champion was the highest accolade that could be bestowed upon human or equine.
But, as we’ve seen in the past two decades, things have been vastly different and in so many ways.
Host states and islands have tweaked the series in many ways while some states/islands have even withdrawn from the rotation.
The obvious answer is financial implications.
Most host states declaring you can’t make money when the series is staged on their soil.
Surely the Inter Dominion should’ve been a priority, was it ever a priority?
At one stage, prizemoney levels mirrored the Melbourne Cup.
Sadly, it doesn’t even run a close second nowadays.
So, was a funding model established? If so, why wasn’t it sustainable?
With major tweaking implemented back in 2000, officials made changes to the tried-and-true racing formula rather than looking at expanding the corporate sponsorship and social aspects of the event.
These changes created confusion and seemed hard to follow year to year, hence a lot of fans turned away and lost interest.
We could go on and on, but most will understand the predicament we now face as an industry.
This is not about playing the blame game either.
This is reality, the facts and figures paint a grim picture.
So, there’s an obvious question that now needs to be raised……..can we make the Inter Dominion great again?
Well, given we’re the host state next year, the onus is now on us to return this famed series back to its glory days.
Some may say it’s fool’s gold but given the stories that are still told about the 2001 (Brisbane) and 2009 (Gold Coast) series, the Inter Dominion still has a pulse, albeit a very faint one.
This is something that everyone within the industry needs to rally around, and quickly.
Let’s make the Inter Dominion GREAT again!
It’s starts with Queensland, the APHRC, because we’re now on the clock.
And time is ticking.
Until next time.