Industry Update – What the Board are Talking About

Industry Update – What the Board are Talking About from Mauro Barsi, Chief Operating Officer

December 2023

I begin this report by wishing our CEO, Gary Woodham, the best for a swift and full recovery from his recent medical event. We know that he is on leave until at least February next year and remain excited about seeing him back in the office and on track again soon.

Code Funding
Code Funding is up for renegotiation and we have had our first meeting already. We are particularly focussed on ensuring that our funding is sufficient to meet the needs of the industry, including the ability to trial new ideas and bring innovation to the sport. We will continue to let you know more in this space as it comes to hand but suffice it to say the full Board has been briefed on the process and the current funding model, and is prepared for a robust debate. We should have a clear idea on what the future may look like by the end of February.

Forbury Park
The issues surrounding Forbury Park have now been settled and the Board is in the process of formally taking clean title on the site. We remain committed to working through the options surrounding Forbury’s future and we have placed the initial proceeds management model on the HRNZ website. The Board is clear that it will work with the local club to ensure the best outcome for the funds and the community, and it will be looking to potential purchasers shortly. At this stage we are exploring strong opportunities for sale on an ‘as is where is’ basis and we will know more early next year.

We are working closely with Entain to look at the new season calendar and to consider trialling some new ideas ahead of the season start as well. One of the issues we are considering is giving more racing opportunities for the horses we breed whereby we can utilise our horse population simply by altering the qualifying standard whilst ensuring horses of similar ability compete together. We have also identified a significant pool of horses that qualify under the current standard yet don't race due to programming not providing competitive opportunities. It is early days in this process but we remain committed to getting more horses to the track, more racing to Entain, and better wagering for our industry. We are likely to consult with the clubs shortly, once we have a consultation document drafted.

We are supporting the creation of the Regional and National Forums, and we look forward to working with them once they are in place. Currently we are providing Chris Lange’s assistance (HRNZ Legal Advisor) to support the mechanics and legal requirements of Forum building and we can see that the process is advancing. We are in regular contact with the Harness Racing Governance Working Group and we are also reaching out to Forum areas. We note that the process for recognising the voices of small clubs is also making progress and we draw your attention to that so that you don’t miss out on being a part of it.

Operation Inca
As some of you may have read, there are reports that Operation Inca has concluded. We have not as yet received any formal notification of this and we are currently engaging with the parties to find out. Once we know the formal position – and whether there are any ongoing issues of privacy or suppression – we will be able to determine what further steps HRNZ may wish to take.

Mauro Barsi
Chief Operating Officer


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