Chairman's Update July 2022

The Board of HRNZ met on 20 July and welcomed Robert Dunn to the meeting as the Auckland Trotting Club appointee to the Board.

The Board will be presenting to the 2022 Annual Conference in October its Strategic Plan and Business Plan
that are underpinned by the following pillars:

  • The Horse - Our Horses have increased opportunities to race
  • Social Acceptance - Our sport has a positive image
  • The Participants - Our participants are professional
  • Growing our Product - Our sport is modern and engaging with greater wagering returns
  • Asset Utilisation - Our racing infrastructure has the right mix of venues

These pillars have been supported by allocations in the 2022/23 budget that was approved by the Board and which will be presented to clubs for their information at the conference.

Seven years ago, our foal numbers were 2,113. Currently they have reduced by 35% with 1,367 foals being microchipped. The Board of HRNZ recognises that serious interventions are needed to encourage the breeding of the Standardbred, or in four years’ time we will continue to see a reduction in field sizes and/or races run. The Board has appointed a sub-committee, led by Todd Anderson, to work with the Breeders focus group and NZ Standardbred Breeders to prioritise and cost the many initiatives that are on the table.

The Board has committed just over $2 million dollars to this pillar in total over the next three years and are currently looking at its level of reserves to see what other funding can be invested to support this pillar. Not all initiatives will have a cost, some might be as simple as promoting fillies and mares races with handicap concessions. Keep an eye out on the HRNZ website over the coming months to read of the initiatives as they are approved.

In considering the budget the Board was mindful of the TAB’s Statement of Intent that shows only modest increases on the 2021/22 funding for the three years to 2024/25. As a result, we have basically been left with the same “pack of cards” and have needed to “reshuffle” the pack to further strengthen the racing opportunities for better money for the majority of our horse population.

In approving the funding budget, the Board has agreed that the base funding for all standard races between 1 September and 30 April be set at $10,000. While clubs have the right to allocate this money accordingly across the season, perhaps some races at $9,000, others at $10,000 or $11,000, the Board has asked that a condition of the funding be that all MR races be set at a minimum of $10,000 for the period 1 September to 30 April. To support this increase in base funding, the Board has decided to utilise a portion of reserves that were built up due to underspending in previous periods.

Base funding for all standard Friday night racing across the country will be at $15,000 per race with all base funding on Premier meetings set at $20,000 per race. Feedback received is that the winter series races and the RATTO series in the autumn were extremely popular with participants and these will continue.

The Board received an analysis of driving fees which showed that if inflation was applied to the current fee of $85 which was set in 2018, then the current fee should be $98.20. The Board resolved to increase driving fees to $100 plus GST from 1 August 2022. The Board also agreed that all fees should be reviewed annually with a view to approving increases when required.

Minor changes to the handicapping matrix and ratings were approved and these changes will be announced on the HRNZ website in the near future.
Clubs and Kindred Bodies are reminded that they have been asked to submit their views on a new governance structure and voting model by Friday 12 August (refer Circular 2204 emailed on 17 June).

The Board of Harness Racing New Zealand meets again on 31 August.

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