Update from the Chair
Over the last few weeks, the 2022 Board election results have been announced and I look forward to welcoming Cam Bray to the HRNZ Board in October. Interest in the position of Independent Director has been high, with interviews of those shortlisted to be held on 13 September. As per the HRNZ Constitution, an Independent Appointment Panel has been brought together to make the appointment.
Since the July HRNZ Board meeting, there has been considerable consultation taking place to look at ways of stabilising breeding numbers and encouraging growth in this area. The Breeders Focus Group and Board Working Group considered many proposals that had come from consultation and the HRNZ Board considered these at its August meeting. As a result, an additional $710,000 from reserves has been allocated to breeding initiatives for this current season, bringing the total allocated this financial year to $1.4 million. Details of how this money is to be spent has been circulated and is available on our website. Other initiatives to bolster breeding numbers and opportunities for fillies and mares will be released in due course on the HRNZ website.
The Board is keen to understand why 47% of foals bred do not make it to the races and work is continuing to gather data on this. If we rely solely on 53% of the horses bred to be our racing product then with declining foal numbers we potentially face being down 16% of races in three years’ time. As well as stabilising and growing foal numbers we need to get more of the 47% of non-runners to the races.
Now six months into the new racing calendar year, the six monthly review of the new programme has been undertaken by Hamish Scott and his panel. The recommended changes to the calendar of events will be considered as part of a full review to be undertaken in February once the full calendar year has been completed.
The Board has asked that a review be undertaken of the conditions around junior driver licensing. It is apparent that the number of junior drivers across the country is reducing and people do not necessarily come into the sport as a driver straight from school. As a result while some get six and a half years as a junior driver, more recently we have seen some only getting two or three years. Recognising that the last two years under covid restrictions has limited the opportunity for some of our junior drivers, the HRNZ Board has agreed that while a review is undertaken, all junior driver licences due to expire on 31 December 2022 will be extended to 31 July 2023. Is junior driver the appropriate terminology? Should there be an upper age limit? The review will address these questions along with the overall conditions.
A reminder to trainers and owners that if a junior driver who has yet to win ten races, drives a one win horse that is four years old or more, each win will be half points. This change took effect on 1 January this year to assist our junior drivers to obtain more opportunity.
Following two periods of consultation over the last twelve months, the Board has approved the Horse Care Regulations. These regulations now reflect the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act that underpins our horse care regulations. The regulations will be available on our website prior to 1 October 2022.
We are seeing some positive trends in our key performance indicators, and areas where we continue to seek improvement. Included with this update are the HRNZ KPI’s for the 2021/22 financial season.
The HRNZ Strategic Business Plan for 2022-2025 will be presented and unpacked at the Annual Conference which is to be held in Christchurch on 14 and 15 of October. The Annual General Meeting of HRNZ will take place at 1.00 pm* on Saturday 15 October at Addington Raceway. A programme for the conference will be available soon. * Please note we have brought forward the AGM to 1.00 pm to ensure we have sufficient time to accommodate those delegates flying out that afternoon.
The Harness Racing New Zealand Board meets again immediately after the Annual Conference to elect its office holders for the next twelve months and then meets on Monday 7 November as part of its regular meeting cycle.