A visit to Hawke’s Bay at the end of June meant I was able to take part in the region’s annual foal walk which included a visit to six farms in the region.
A large and enthusiastic group of people, all with a passion for breeding and racing, enjoyed viewing 17 weanlings. They were all presented in great condition and we look forward to seeing them one day advance their careers on racetracks across New Zealand.
The day prior, we witnessed a truly remarkable achievement when No Charge took out the Hawke’s Bay Hurdle and Perry Mason won the Steeplechase. Both were piloted by Aaron Kuru and trained by the legendary Paul Nelson, in partnership with Corrina McDougal. What was incredible was the back story of how Corrina has fought against the odds and battled health constraints while preserving with her involvement in thoroughbred racing. Having had a kidney and liver transplant just eight months earlier Corrina is an amazing individual and deserves every success.
Last Monday saw the introduction of RITA and NZTR is eager to work with the RITA Board and management to implement, as soon as possible, the new revenue streams for race fields, point of consumption and wagering duty.
In addition to this, we will continue to advocate for the outsourcing, or joint venturing of the TAB operations to take advantage of scale with an international operator, so that we can invest in further technology on and off course, to grow the interest and commercial returns for racing. It is important that everyone is aware that this will take change at all levels – it is not a simple one-year fix. The Messara Report has given us the framework and now we must work together to deliver.
Stakeholder groups and club reps were brought up to date with RITA; wagering and racing trends; policy; license conditions for 2019/20; horse ambulances; proposed welfare regulations; and several other matters during our monthly phone conferences last week. We also met with members of the Racing Club Advisory Group to discuss and plan 2020/21 race dates; structures for Thoroughbred Racing marketing, event and digital activities; and club policy.
In the middle of the previous week we were able to push racing’s case at the National Party stakeholder gathering at parliament. The industry does have a major task getting racing understood outside of the traditional avenues, so these opportunities are welcome. James Dunne and I also presented to the Judicial Control Authority on NZTR’s current activity and our focus on key rule amendments over the next 12 months.