In a break with tradition, harness racing will be trialled at Phoenix Park on Sunday.
The meetings are usually on Friday night, but declining revenue and the need achieve Sky 1 telecast coverage have led to the switch.
Vision of the meeting has previously been restricted to Sky 2, a less popular channel with punters.
The first race will be held under the new format at 5pm on Sunday, May 20, with national telecast coverage
Four Sunday twilight meetings are scheduled in the next six weeks – May 20 and June 3, 10 and 24.
After being approached by the state governing body, Harness Racing SA, the Port Pirie Harness Racing Club opted for the new timeslot to guarantee national coverage on Sky 1.
Club president Jacqui Hall said local harness racing was regarded as South Australia’s top competition and it was being dubbed the “speed track”.
“On Friday, April 27, Bettor Party notched up a super time of 1:53:5 to take out the 2018 Portside Tavern Ubet Kadina Cup at Port Pirie,” she said.
The Port Pirie Elders Insurance Drivers Invitation series is fast approaching on June 24.
Negotiations have begun with some of the best drivers to attend this yearly event.
The club has three member trainers in the top 10 list in the state with three-quarters of the season elapsed.
Waylon Hornhardt has 135 race starts for 22 wins, 41 seconds and 18 thirds. Lyndon Hall and Leah Harvey are having super seasons.
The state’s leading horse, Mymatethomo, is locally owned and trained by Mr Hall.
His stable has the top three horses on the premiership list at Port Pirie. Jacqui said the club had acquired the services of upcoming race announcer Lachlan Stace who is starring behind the microphone.
“The 17-year-old has been a fabulous addition to our race meetings, keeping the crowd informed with industry matters, driver interviews, sponsor details and race calls,” she said.
“He is being mentored by Jim Jacques and is fast becoming a well-known face at harness racing tracks around the state.”
Port Pirie is the most successful harness racing club in SA. “We are proud of the amazing group of volunteers that contributes to this success,” Jacqui said
“The public in the north has a great opportunity to see the best racing the state has to offer and, if you haven’t attended a meeting in recent years, now is the time." Former Port Pirie identity Gary Crocker is now chairman of the Harness Racing SA Board.
He said if the club stayed on Sky 2 telecasts, its revenue would continue to decline.
“It was a trial that we had to have. I think it will work okay in an area like Port Pirie which is strong in their support of sport,” he said.
“If successful in alleviating the decline in revenue, it could become the norm.”