IN a world where information is pervasive and innovation often abrasive, many mourn the days when being right was more important than being first.
But what about the concept of being both at once?
On December 18, the Meadows will stage greyhound racing’s inaugural direct-entry slot race, The TAB Phoenix.
A race where people and organisations from all walks of life were invited to apply to purchase a $75,000 golden ticket straight into the $1.145 million feature.
On one hand, the decision by MGRA CEO Ash Baker and Chairman Eddie Caruana to let The Phoenix take flight seems a total no-brainer.
On another, it took titanic courage.
The philosophy underpinning The Phoenix, and indeed all slot races, including The Everest, is frighteningly fundamental.
Free money, free promotion, and free relevance in a world where prizemoney injections by GRV are frantically contested by all areas of the industry.
At its cavernous core, it sounds like a scam.
If something sounds too good, and too easy, to be true, it almost invariably is.
The caveat, however, the aspect that most don’t comprehend, is that there’s nothing easy about it.
First, one must manifest the courage and confidence to play the role of pioneer.
Then come the challenges.
Inspiring interest, re-calibrating the calendar, navigating the nuances of satisfying stakeholders, ignoring the voices that wail it will not work.
But it has worked, in spectacular fashion.
Even before the boxes open for this inaugural Phoenix, bookies are paying out on its success.
And here’s why.
Landmark events don’t grow on trees and lightning rods are rare.
Permeating a painfully packed sporting landscape and leveraging the attention of an overstimulated populace carries with it a Simone Biles degree of difficulty.
The Phoenix, however, has seriously stuck it’s landing.
Staggeringly, even as the Melbourne Cup loomed large on the horizon, folks still focused on The Phoenix.
Which of his greyhounds would Ray Borda select?
How were TAB going to select their Thompson runner?
And we’re not purely referencing greyhound diehards here; we’re talking footy fans, cricket nuffies, NBA nerds and more.
In basic terms, The Phoenix has done what racing fails to achieve near as often as it should.
It’s broadened the church; it’s challenged the status quo.
That fact is largely courtesy of slot-holder creativity.
Interstate jurisdictions have sold this dream to their participants in fabulous fashion via their native qualifiers while SEN’s commitment to rewarding listeners with shares in their runner has ensured The Phoenix found a ubiquitous voice via that massively patronised medium.
Negative naysayers will wistfully whisper that December 18’s TAB Phoenix field too closely resembles the Nationals, that the combatants are inferior to a Topgun or a Melbourne Cup.
None of this matters.
The biggest names are there, the excitement is palpable and the promotion exquisite.
The Phoenix may be the first move in a new era of Australasian greyhound racing but it’s also been the right move.
And this is just the start.
By Jason Bonnington