Update from the Chair
“To Champion the sport, celebrate the participants and have the horse at the heart of everything we do”
I begin this report by wishing our Chief Executive, Gary Woodham, a speedy and restful recovery from his recent medical event and look forward to his return to work in the near future.
At the time of writing, there is nothing new to report on the proposed partnering of TAB NZ and Entain. All racing codes are supportive of the proposed partnership and are waiting in the hope that the Minister for Racing will sign it off as soon as possible. As a result, TAB NZ are not yet in a position to advise what our funding distribution for the next 12 months from 1 August will look like. With budgets for the next financial year needing to be written and approved, the decision needs to come sooner rather than later.
Governance Survey and Annual Conference
Thank you to the clubs and kindred bodies who responded to the recent Governance survey. Management are compiling the results of the survey and seeking legal advice on the constitutional changes required before presenting the findings to the HRNZ Board. Clubs and kindred bodies will be updated on the survey results and consulted on the proposed Board structure and voting model in the next few weeks. It is envisaged that a Special General Meeting of clubs and kindred bodies will be held prior to August to approve any changes that might be required to take effect immediately following this year’s annual meeting.
This year’s Harness Racing Conference will be held in Christchurch on Friday 13 October and Saturday 14 October. The HRNZ Annual General Meeting will be held on the afternoon of Saturday 14 October. We are aware that Saturday 14 October is also Election Day, which may be a consideration for anyone working in an election capacity. We will investigate options for advanced voting and out of electorate voting closer to the time.
Feedback from the North Island Forums
At the HRNZ Board meeting held on 27 April, the Board discussed the outcomes of the recent North Island forums. The Board was pleased to receive that feedback from industry participants and stakeholders. There are some suggestions that have merit and that, if not already actioned, will be, and others that need more consideration. A written response will be sent through to the organisers of the forum by the end of May.
Ratings System and Programme Reviews
Following on from the above forums and along with feedback received by our Racing Manager, Catherine McDonald, at the regional trainer and driver meetings, the HRNZ Board has asked that a review of the current rating system be undertaken. The Board has asked that the review be lead independently of HRNZ management by former Board member, Rob Lawson, with representation from each of the three regions. The terms of reference and timeframe for this review should be finalised this week.
The HRNZ Board has asked that a further review of the current racing programming calendar be carried out with a view to confirming what is working well and a look to see what changes if any need to be made. A group is being formed to review the calendar and feedback will be sought from participants and clubs and kindred bodies.
With regional programming committees now operating in Southland and the North Island, the Board has asked that these operate under a transparent terms of reference so that no doubt is left as to where responsibilities lie. Tentative programmes should be out up to three months prior to the race meeting with race programmes confirmed at least three weeks prior. The Board will be following up with management to ensure that these time frames are being met.
I cannot over stress to trainers the importance of ensuring that all horses that are in work to race are recorded in the HRNZ system the moment they come into work. The programming committees need accurate regional horse numbers to help them plan races.
Sapere Report and Venue Strategy Plan
Following the strategic venue plan work in late March and the detailed presentations from clubs, the HRNZ Board has instructed management to test the accuracy of information presented to them and to undertake an analysis of the metrics used in the Sapere Report regarding the Canterbury venue review. While I appreciate the frustration that a further delay will cause clubs, it is imperative that any final decision is soundly thought through and based on sound and correct information.
It would be just as frustrating for clubs also if the Board made decisions on untested assumptions and incorrect data. As a result, none of the existing venues will be closed before 31 July 2024.
More work is required on the venue strategy plan and once completed it will be made available to stakeholders.
TAB and the RIB
I recently attended the trainers and drivers’ meetings in Southland and the Waikato that were hosted by our Racing Manager, Catherine McDonald. It was clear at these meetings that many in the industry do not clearly understand the functions of the TAB and the Racing Integrity Board in relation to HRNZ. Firstly, both work independently of HRNZ and we have no control over them, they are answerable to their own Boards of Directors. The management of HRNZ meets with both groups on a regular basis in a spirit of cooperation.
With regards to racing dates, we make submissions along with the other codes, however it is the TAB who decides who races when and the TAB are governed by maximising return and their ability to service a meeting. As for the start time for races, these are determined by Tabcorp, who have the broadcasting rights.
I can confirm that following a review of terms by Ford Baker Valuation, HRNZ will be exiting its current lease at 17 Birmingham Drive later in the year to transfer to a more suitable site at 114 Wrights Road Christchurch. The site is adjacent to the back straight at Addington and has ample parking and much safer road access for all.
Next Board Meeting
The HRNZ Board meets again in person on 7 June for its scheduled Board meeting.
Below is a summary of racing performance season to date: