HRNZ endorses Winston Peters’ call to make “Racing Great Again"

By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk

Harness Racing New Zealand (HRNZ) has hailed the funding announcement by Racing Minister, the Rt Hon Winston Peters as “timely and vital”.

In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Government has announced a $72.5 million dollar support package for the racing industry.

“We are going to make racing great again.”

“This is exactly what’s required,” says HRNZ Chair Ken Spicer, “we are very appreciative of this funding package, it helps with the here and now and also into the future.”

The support package consists of:

- $50 million dollar relief grant for the Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA)
- Up to $20 million in funding to construct two new All Weather race tracks, at Awapuni and Riccarton.
- $2.5 million dollars for the Department of Internal Affairs to fast track work on the online gambling revenue, and address loss of revenue impacts on community and sport groups.

Mr Peters said, “We can’t gild the lily… It is a matter of urgency for the Government to provide support.”

“Of the immediate grant, $26 million will be used by RITA to pay its outstanding supplier bill which it hasn’t be able to do because of strangled revenue. The other share of this package will ensure RITA, and each of the racing codes, can maintain a baseline functionality and resume racing activities,” said Mr Peters.

“That’s the key for us,” said Spicer, “this allows the industry to begin to plan for the weeks and months ahead with renewed optimism.”

“It’s too early to say how the funding package will be allocated, but it’s great news for all of racing.”

The announcement comes little over a fortnight before harness racing resumes at Addington on May 29.

“In the long term, if we get all the steps correct, there is no reason why racing in this country cannot be a world class industry, stronger than ever,” Peters added.

“We are out of the gate but we have distance to cover before we get to the home straight and the winning post.”

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