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Race day survey

Tuesday, 7th April, 2009

The St Pat's Race Club is to conduct a survey to identify ways to improve the race day and fringe events. The survey would seek constructive feedback from racegoers on what is working and what could be improved to make not only race day but the whole week better. Club president Margaret Corradini said the committee supported the survey and recognised that the event was ultimately a major benefit to the whole city. The club has will post the survey on its website, write to all members living outside of the city, which is in excess of some 3,000 people, and print the survey in the Barrier Daily Truth.

" . . . that way we can gauge a broad cross section of people, local members and the general race going public can access our website or fill out the survey in the paper, those living outside of our region and who are members can reply by mail or again use the website." The club is hoping to have the survey ready in the next 3-4 weeks. Although final figures are not yet available, the club expects the crowd may have slightly exceeded that of 2008. While tickets sold at the gate on race day were down, this was more than compensated by the pre-selling of general admission tickets. This was the first time St Pats pre-sold tickets and it proved a winner.

Mrs Corradini said that next year the club would promote the purchasing of general admission tickets prior to the races to a greater degree. "This worked so well this year and the feedback from the people working on the entrance gate was that it made the flow of people into the racecourse much smoother. We will make a bigger effort in 2010 to alert our patrons to the fact they can buy their ticket before the races rather than lining up on the day itself." St Pats will also increase membership packages for next year in response to a demand from people arriving at the racecourse gate.

The impact of no heavy beer at the races is still being assessed as final bar figures have yet to be finalised. The club was restricted to serving mid and light beers and some patrons requested a larger variety of those beers at next year's meeting. Mrs Corradini said that bar co-ordinators have already started discussions with Lion Nathan about expanding the range in 2010. After criticism in 2008 over delays at the bar, a new system was devised that cut waiting times. "Bar co-ordinator Dave King solved the problem. He did a wonderful job, Dave devised a race system which meant minimal waiting time for those seeking a drink, a winner all round." The pavilion co-ordinators said people that utilised the facility were delighted with the new structure and what it had to offer.

Some criticism came from people who in previous years had bottles of wine and jugs of beer on their tables and wanted to know why this was not the case this year. Mrs Corradini said that as part of the licensing requirements this was no longer allowed and that the club employed an additional 20 staff to provide table service in the pavilion."This in itself is a costly exercise but it was part of our licensing requirements so we had to comply." As part of additional licensing requirements in the past two years the club has had to employ additional security staff, along with an increased number of bar and pavilion personnel, purchase wristbands so that all those aged over 18 and who wish to drink alcohol are banded, plus employ people to issues the wristbands.

"We have to provide free water, not only at all the bars, but employ staff to walk around the racecourse distributing free bottles of water. This is an extra cost in all areas but if we are to sell alcohol at our event then these conditions must be met." The standard of behaviour of race goers was one thing St Pats received plenty of feedback on. "We had so many people comment on how the race day atmosphere was the best they have experienced. There was no hassles or dramas reported to either us or the police and there were no arrests or incidents," Mrs Corradini said. "It is satisfying to see that everything put in place by our security and police worked and that people who went to the races must be congratulated for the way they behaved."

The idea of replacing picnic site umbrellas with the large sails on the lawn was a winner and Mrs Corradini said the club will be striving to have nearly all of the lawn section under sails by next year's race meeting. "The people who opted for the picnic sites were rapt with the sails so we will be pushing to have even more in 2010. This year was our first attempt. We have some tweaking to do in terms of aligning sails so picnickers can be shaded for most of the day, but we will be working on it." The post race week was not only devoted to the review meeting, bookings opened for the 2010 race meeting.

"It is amazing," Mrs Corradini said, "we already have over 100 bookings for the pavilion and have sold nearly half of our 134 picnic sites. We have received so many enquires about next year's meeting. It is staggering that so many people are planning 12 months ahead."

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