Jenny - Clean

THERE have been two things this weekend - states but not poles apart - that make you wonder if racing "gets it".

MATT STEWART reports in the HERALD SUN that Moonee Valley's summer Friday nights are a revelation.

Crowds abandoned the racetrack years ago yet the Valley has bobbed up with this snazzy summer series, attracting young, happy and relaxed festive season crowds.

Just weeks after the spring hordes have disappeared to the beaches and shopping malls, the Valley has managed to lure a few thousand back.

Then this. On Friday night Sam Thomson and Melissa Bedford, members of racing's young, attractive target audience, arrived at the Valley.

Sam wore a hip suit and Melissa was decked out in a fashionable white one-piece that looks like a dress but isn't.

The happy couple mingled in the members' area - Sam pays $150 a year for the privilege - before being confronted by security.

They were advised Melissa wasn't as smartly dressed as Melissa thought. In fact, she was so inappropriately dressed - no shorts allowed! - she was told to leave.

Sam and Melissa sought second and third opinions from other staff and were told she looked fine. The security woman called in back-up, who agreed Melissa must leave.

Melissa was embarrassed by the fuss and burst into tears.

The couple left and Sam took to Twitter yesterday, swearing to toss his membership in the bin. He was swamped by support.

Those who run the Valley would have dealt with Mel's plight more sympathetically than the roving security nark.

Chief executive Michael Browell is pretty switched on and said he'd have allowed Melissa to stay, that the security staffer was out of line.

If I was Browell, I'd be ringing Mel today and offering Cox Plate tickets.

While one staffer's overzealous interpretation of the rule book might be seen as isolated, this is just one example of racing's inability to match spin with deeds.

Racing is desperate to prove it's in step with modern life yet allows its customers occasional yet stinging indignities.

The Valley has loosened its dress code. You know what? Loosen it more. The other clubs, too.

Mel's story is familiar. Two gay men in colourful suits were once kicked out of Flemington, for example. Others have been booted out for "wrong'' shoes.

The Valley revealed an ­exciting blueprint for its future on Friday; new track, new era.

If and when the new track opens, let's hope it slams the door on its former dress code.

Sam works in finance and doesn't wear a tie or jacket to work and reckons race clubs need to chill out.

"People don't dress the way they used to. I thought Melissa looked fantastic,'' he said.

Different but also a hit that racing doesn't "get it'' was the lesson of yesterday's Rosehill form guide.

Racing loves a kneejerk and the dominance of imported horses in the Melbourne Cup has sparked feverish talk that we must stop breeding ­sprinters and breed stayers who can win our greatest race.

The Melbourne Racing Club is trying to conjure a generation of stayers and fair dinkum staying races in a land of sprinters. Just last week it ­revealed its marathon series.

But look at the reality of our racing, highlighted at Rosehill. All eight races were sprints, bar a four-horse 2000m race - with two of the entrants trained by Chris ­Waller.

Trainer Jason Coyle summed up the silliness perfectly, tweeting: "4 runners in the first at Rosehill over 2000m. I hope nobody complains about lack of staying races ever again #Joke".



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