Update from the Chair

The dust certainly doesn’t have time to settle at HRNZ as the leadership and HRNZ Board continue to reshape our sport mindful of the responsibilities they have under different Acts of Parliament.

The Health and Safety Act 2015 places many responsibilities on employers and contractors which impact on our sport and have implications for clubs and HRNZ in running race meetings and venues. Just as we thought we had a good understanding of that Act, along came the Racing Industry Act 2020 which has required a whole new understanding and places obligations on all three racing codes. Understanding this Act is not as simple as just reading it, as so much of the how it is to be implemented is still being defined by the Department of Internal Affairs with input from the racing codes and numerous legal opinions.

Then there is the Animal Welfare Act (1999) that has really grown a life of its own with the spotlight on racing by many sections of society. As a result, the Board of HRNZ will shortly send out for consultation the rewritten Horse Care Regulations. Please make yourself familiar with these regulations when the link appears on the HRNZ website, we welcome your feedback. The HRNZ Board met in Auckland on 27 May and considered among many things the recently completed Sapere report on racing venues in Canterbury. Sapere presented to the HRNZ Board and were available to answer a number of questions.

Sapere’s preferred options for the HRNZ Board to consider are as follows:

  • That Addington and Ashburton be retained and that a joint decision of the equine racing codes be made on the future of Rangiora and the choice of Oamaru or Timaru. Sapere’s recommendation is to retain Oamaru and divest from Rangiora, reinvesting the proceeds elsewhere in the region.
  • Kaikoura should stay because of its special character, which makes its retention a net benefit to the industry.
  • Methven and Motukarara are to remain as racing venues.
  • Orari to close at the end of the 2022/23 season.

The decision was made by the Board to accept the recommendation to close Orari as a racing venue at the end of 2023. This was a decision the Board had previously made two years ago, which at the time was reversed to enable the club to celebrate their 150 years at the venue. HRNZ management will continue working with the Geraldine Club regarding where they might race beyond 2023.

No decision has yet been made by the HRNZ Board regarding the future of Rangiora, Timaru and Oamaru, with a sub-committee established by Racing New Zealand to receive further submissions. Interest in these three venues is inter-code and as a result the racing codes will work together to determine which venues are retained or not.

The May meeting was the last for the Auckland Trotting Club appointee, Shaun Brooks, who reluctantly stepped down from our Board due to a change in work circumstances. As a result, the Auckland Trotting Club have appointed well known harness trainer Robert Dunn as their HRNZ appointee. I wish to publicly acknowledge the positive contribution Shaun made to the HRNZ Board in his brief tenure and wish him well for the future.

Racing General Manager, Catherine McDonald, has formed a racing programme review committee that will be chaired by Hamish Scott. While everything we do as an organisation should be open to review, this is an interim review that will look at the changes that were introduced after HRNZ changed the horses’ birthday to 1 January. The purpose of the changes was to help keep horses racing in New Zealand rather than being exported, and to grow GBR.

The review team is:

  • Hamish Scott (as Chair, Secretary Hororata TC, Accountant, Owner)
  • Catherine McDonald (HRNZ GM Racing)
  • HRNZ Staff (Andrew, Brad, Cameron, Ollie (HRNZ Analyst))
  • Martin Pierson (NZ Sires Stakes Board)
  • Cam Bray (NZ Bloodstock)
  • Nathan Williamson (Southland), Reagan Todd (Canterbury), Arna Donnelly (North Island)

In keeping with one of our strategic pillars, a working group has been formed to look at initiatives that will support breeders and provide opportunity for future racehorses. Recommendations from this group will come back to the HRNZ Board for consideration.

Work continues on writing the budget for the 12 months starting 1 August. The TAB are expected to confirm our funding in early July for the next 12 months, with the HRNZ Board expecting to approve the draft operational budget at its July meeting, for approval by clubs at the HRNZ AGM.

At the end of May, HRNZ bid farewell to Jenny Fleming from the Finance team. I wish Jenny well for the future and thank her for the contribution that she has made to the financial administration of this sport over the
last 27 years.

The change process our industry is going through to reshape and remain relevant doesn’t happen without hard work and commitment. I am extremely grateful to the staff of HRNZ, and the leadership team in particular, for their commitment to our sport and acknowledge their hard work. No doubt, like you, our team want the best for all those involved in our sport, including the horse. Keep the feedback coming, at times we won’t please everyone, but decisions made by the HRNZ Board must be for the greater good of the industry.

The next meeting of the HRNZ Board will be in Christchurch on Wednesday 20 July.

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