From the Chair

Industry Update from John Coulam, HRNZ Chair

Since my last report, the operational leaders at HRNZ have been covering a lot of ground consulting with the industry, having a presence and generally gaining rich information to support recommendations to the HRNZ Board. I acknowledge and appreciate their work and dedication to ensure that the board is making decisions based on well informed reports.

As I mentioned to industry participants at last year’s Annual Meeting, it is both the intent and practice of HRNZ to have consultative groups on a number of matters. These groups will be fluid in composition to ensure that a range of experiences and ideas are being canvassed on a regular basis.

Last week the HRNZ Board received the Sapere Report and considered the recommendations of the report on the future of venues in the Otago and Southland region. The recommendations of this report will see some clubs racing at different venues in the future as decisions are made to better place the industry for sustainability. HRNZ staff have met with and will work with affected clubs to transition to new venues.

What can be learnt from the report is that all clubs need strong business plans to address an ageing infrastructure, declining horse and license holder populations and the promotion of the sport at a local level. The operational team of HRNZ is currently reviewing club funding and the funding of group and feature races for the Board to consider the return to owners by way of increased stakes.

Following on from the consultation process conducted by Catherine McDonald, HRNZ Racing Manager, and her team, the HRNZ Board has approved the draft Dates Calendar for next season. The process this year is different than previous years and is not open to multiple bids or submissions. The calendar, along with written club submissions, has been well considered to gain the best return for the industry as a whole as opposed to any club operating in isolation. The calendar will be circulated to clubs once there has been alignment with the other codes and it is subsequently approved by TAB New Zealand.

The Board is continuing to work on aligning the New Zealand racing calendar with the Australian Harness calendar and will make a decision on this once we understand the full implications for New Zealand.

Our year-to-date turnover is still holding up with the GBR (gross betting revenue) increasing by 18.4% with an average of $931K gross turnover per meeting. However, horse numbers have declined a little as some have a well-earned break and this was reflected with no increase in the GBR last week.

The recent New Zealand Bloodstock yearling sales results reflected a renewed positivity and confidence within our industry.

Regretfully this can so easily be undone by the actions of a few who choose to act outside our agreed rules. Make no mistake, this Board is determined to send clear messages through strong action whenever our brand is tarnished.

It is with regret that the Board received the resignation of Victoria McCrea recently from her position as an Independent Director. I take this opportunity to wish Victoria well for the future and thank her for her contribution to what has been a very busy and time challenging role over the last twelve months or so. The process to appoint a new Independent Director will commence shortly.

John Coulam Chair
Harness Racing New Zealand Inc
March 2021


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