Nelli

$8K races at Cambridge starting in August

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Why would any owner want to start their horse at Cambridge for such low stakes and be hit with 7 points for a win in the rating system when for the same points (or less if in the R40s!) they could race for double the money at Auckland in the same week? Certainly wouldn't want my trainer to start my maiden there until it  had proved itself hopeless and had dropped 10 points!! I believe if they want to fill fields at Cambridge they should drop the rating system for these cheap meetings (or give them a token 2 points a win) and just base the fields on money won in last 4-5 starts with an upper limit. That way the battlers and out of form horses can have competitive races but aren't rated out of business when/if    they race up the road.

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They will probably change the rating system to meet your expectations Nelli, though we haven't seen that detail from HRNZ yet. So you can hopefully put that worry aside. But the bigger problems already exist - (1) where do the horses come from to "fill fields at Cambridge" , (2) where do the punters come from to bet on them on Tuesday afternoons which is an horrendously poor betting day historically, and (3) on what basis is it possibly fair (or even sensible) to force you and the owners of all the hundreds of horses based around Cambridge to trek up to Alexandra Park every Friday night and race at the venue that (relatively speaking) nobody goes to and which the industry is already subsidising by $ millions each and every year. There's actually an argument to be made that the venue most strategically important to the future of the North Island for the scale that harness racing is today is actually Cambridge, not Alexandra Park. But nobody appears willing to be tested on that proposition and there's no sign that HRNZ are going to be open going forwards about how much they subsidise each location under this new regime to enable owners and trainers to assess whether this new strategy is working, and whether there is a plan B if it isn't!   

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I see in today's announcement that winners at Cambridge will get 5 rating points. Still not that tempting for me as an owner paying the bills if my horses were any good, though the junior driver concessions would help. I see they consulted with 60 or so trainers - I wonder if they consulted with any owners?

 

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So sorry to see this outcome for you Nelli. I could start writing on how the relative treatment of Cambridge vs Alexandra Park makes so little sense relative to business logic, horse population, cost of ownership etc etc but I'd end up writing a book. The millions of dollars being poured into Alexandra Park yearly by way of subsidies, in conjunction with the almost year round suppression of Cambridge's opportunity to provide an attractive product to the local community because of both the date and the stake structure is for me very depressing. But if c. 60 trainers up there are convinced it will work and then hundreds of trainers down here want to keep seeing their South Island owners keep racing for much less than they should be to subsidise this exercise, then sadly all owners nationwide will be taken along for the 3 year ride with very little input. Pretty clear from HRNZ's release today there is no Plan B for that 3 years either, but will they be transparent and tell the owners and trainers how Plan A is progressing at specific points in time along the way?

If you run a multi year multi million $ project in business at specific points in time across the life of that project you set up checkpoints/ stage gates to consider and communicate progress and re-evaluate where you have got to and what if anything you will be doing differently going forwards to reset the project objectives/ costs/ timelines and explain to everyone why this is needed. That's exactly what I'd expect HRNZ to be doing on behalf of all the owners and trainers in this exercise - I am hoping they will because don't all of us deserve to at least be told in the future what amount of our stake money they are putting into this exercise (especially as the Entain funding is only guaranteed for less than 4 years) and how their plan is working in terms of turnover and revenue growth. Is this asking too much of HRNZ?

 

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5 hours ago, Nelli said:

see in today's announcement that winners at Cambridge will get 5 rating points

If they want to get more horses racing so we increase betting on harness they should be taking up your suggestion of a token 2 points for a win.  That will keep more horses in that grade leading to larger  fields or possibly more races. 5 points in a $8k race makes no sense at all.  To make this work you need a decent discount on points to match the lower stake money.  Trainers most likely won’t even perceive getting 5 points instead of 6 is any material benefit to their horse. 

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In this business we need to keep owners and punters happy. Everyone else depends on them. One of my frustrations as an owner is having  good honest horses that if they win, get into a level that costs me months of  training before they get back to a rating where they are competitive again, especially if the sort of horse that can't race every week. It's tough on both the pocket and the horse.   It doesn't matter if they are a high rated horse at Auckland or a low rated horse at Cambridge, but at least at Auckland the winning stake will make a decent contribution towards my hobby. The danger with the 5 points at Cambridge is that owners will be most pleased with their trainers and drivers if their horse just places  - and I bet the punters will know that too.  I'm sure if points earned for a win were at max 3 (2 for JD), there would be more competitive racing at Cambridge and possibly we could win back the punters. 

 

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On 7/11/2024 at 10:26 AM, Nelli said:

I see in today's announcement that winners at Cambridge will get 5 rating points. Still not that tempting for me as an owner paying the bills if my horses were any good, though the junior driver concessions would help. I see they consulted with 60 or so trainers - I wonder if they consulted with any owners?

 

Nelli, in all seriousness I think you should put yourself forward for the board of HRNZ.  I would be first in line to nominate you.  The board needs an owners perspective. 

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