The return of The Box Seat
Harness racing’s weekly television show The Box Seat is set for a surprise return next week.
And that has been made possible largely because of support from inside the industry.
The Box Seat was taken off screen indefinitely, along with all other NZ-made Trackside magazine or review shows, when Covid-19 caused the first lockdown in March.
With TAB NZ then re-structuring and changing their broadcasting model, with more emphasis on live racing and punting, most of the preview and review shows have yet to return.
But The Box Seat host Greg O’Connor has secured enough funding from inside the industry to produce the show himself as well as staying on as the host.
“I firmly believe The Box Seat has a huge role to play in promoting the industry as well as driving turnover on harness racing,” says O’Connor.
“It is also a great vehicle for telling people’s stories and putting faces to the names in harness racing, whether they be premiership winners or a junior driver getting their first success.
“So I was thrilled so many people inside the industry wanted to support it to get it back, including HRNZ and some of the clubs.”
O’Connor then worked with the TAB broadcasting arm around the logistics of getting the show made and back on television.
“They have been great to deal with and we really appreciate being able to use the same studios and sets because they have been a big part of the show. So a lot of people have worked hard to make this come together.”
The Box Seat, with regular co-host Michael Guerin re-joining O’Connor on the show, starts next Wednesday but with some slight changes.
“It will be recorded Wednesday, as it always was, so we can preview races that coming weekend and have the markets available.
“But it will first screen on Trackside at the close of live racing most Wednesday nights and then be replayed on Thursday. So that could be 9pm or sometimes even later on the Wednesday night.
“So for many people who are used to using Sky they could well MySky it and watch it when it suits them but it will also go up first on www.hrnz.co.nz probably late Wednesday afternoon.
“With people getting so used to streaming and watching shows online I think that will be a realistic option for plenty of viewers.”
O’Connor is also working with racing channels and websites in Australia to allow them to screen the show to drive engagement with the New Zealand harness industry.
The series is expected to run for 33 shows and is likely to include the traditionally popular The Box Seat special New Zealand Cup preview show.