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B De Lore on the Messara appointment

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Hope this is not considered copyright Scoobs? It's Brian's Informant article, taken from Waikato Stud newsletter

MESSARA APPOINTMENT THE PRECURSOR TO A PARADIGM-SHIFT IN OUR RACING CULTURE

19 April 2018

John-Messara-600x540.jpg

John Messara is determined to turn the New Zealand racing industry around.

 

(By Brian De Lore, The Informant)

Close your eyes and make a wish for racing!

If a year ago you had been accorded that luxury and thought “I want Winston Peters back as Minister for Racing and I want him to appoint John Messara to review New Zealand racing”, the TAB odds on that double would have been 10,000 to one.

Yet, it’s happened. No-one in their wildest dreams could have predicted such a long-shot double. For a decade or more, we in New Zealand racing and breeding have experienced a steady decline that has become serious to point of a crisis.

Not everyone in racing recognises we have reached crisis point, and not everyone is happy about either the Peters return as Minister or the Messara appointment. But then again, not everyone in racing has an IQ over 70, either.

This is a double that this writer had both hoped for and actively sought but never believed might become an actual reality. But now, I can pinch myself along with everyone else who has been constantly separating facts from NZRB fiction and say that the light at the end of the tunnel may not be a gravy-train heading straight at us but instead rays of sunlight from the rising dawn of a new racing era.

We are not over the line by any stretch, but to quote an oft-used line ‘the wheels are in motion’ is enough to say we have commenced a journey that will take us down a path never previously taken by racing and towards a destination of greener fields and richer pickings.

Using the train-station analogy – after years of sitting idle on rusty tracks we have now set off with the Minister driving the train at his speed and Messara firing up the furnace to produce a head of steam that will easily propel us to a new destination called Racebetter.

Messara has already commenced his review as you read this and will be working at full pace to produce an analysis of the structure and strategies of New Zealand racing to be delivered in a report to the Minister with his recommended changes at the earliest possible time.

Speaking to Messara soon after the announcement last Thursday, he said: “We are going to turn it around; I’ve agreed to it and I’m happy to help – New Zealand is part of the family and we are going to get moving on it.

“I will be doing a lot of research before I come up with my recommendations and I’ll be visiting once every two weeks for a couple of days. I have been retained by the government so I can’t say anything more than that.

“Any questions will have to be answered by Winston Peters and not by me. I can’t say anything about the project – my report has to be to him and nobody else.”

The blank sheet of paper is on the desk but still blank and understandably, little more will be heard until Minister Peters has devoured the completed Messara Report and is ready to make an announcement about changes. Rest assured, the Minister will not be saying anything until he is good and ready.

Reaction to the Messara appointment has mostly been very positive and both the Messara office in Sydney and NZ First having been inundated with emails of support and enthusiasm for the review.

And while ‘mum’s the word’ on the progress Messara will make while delving into racing’s administrative abyss, his record as a trouble-shooter for Racing NSW suggests his recommendations in the end will be substantial and game changing.

Having known Messara since the late1970s as a somewhat younger journalist working for the monthly Racetrack magazine in Sydney; having knowledge of his entree committee role in racing which happened to be the NSW Racehorse Owners’ Association, Messara is a familiar character to this writer.

Add to that his commissioning from me a feasibility study into founding a new racing publication in the early 1980s for which there were numerous visits to his then Sydney stockbrokers office, also his two years as a director of Ra Ora Stud during my term as general manager, and having attended his lavish 40th birthday party at Arrowfield Stud way back in the day, it’s fair to say those experiences have provided an insight to how the man thinks and acts.

Then take a look at his achievements in more recent times. He was the founder and is principal of Australia’s most successful stud and the business acumen he displayed during his five years as Chairman of Racing NSW (2011-2016), and as Chairman of Racing Australia for just on three years during the same timeframe, is unprecedented.

He and Racing NSW CEO Peter V’landys turned around racing in their state, where the industry was declining alarmingly and falling behind Victoria until the pair constantly lobbied the NSW Government and took drastic remedial action.

Messara is an uncompromising character who likes to get his way and isn’t fazed by treading over a few slowcoaches or dissenters to achieve a result for the greater good. His appointment by Peters is a stroke of genius and there’s no doubt the Minister will trust the Messara recommendations and get straight into action with the appropriate legislation.

My experience with Messara tells me he will be savage on expenses – he will cut costs to the bone as he did at Ra Ora and later Racing NSW. Instead of the NZRB costing $205 million to run and returning $143 million to the codes, those figures might be reversed. He will set out to maximise the returns to the codes which will on-flow to the owners, trainers and all other participants in thoroughbreds, harness and greyhounds.

In my chat with Messara at this year’s Karaka Yearling Sales from which the ‘blank sheet of paper’ article published in the February 1 edition of The Informant was hatched, one of the points he stressed was cost saving.

“I can’t understand why you don’t immediately cut your costs and stop variegating about it,” Messara said. “It’s one thing you could do straight away.”

Messara’s list of achievements at Racing NSW under the sub-heading of ‘Costs’ is highlighted by ‘Cost effective industry management’ which states that ‘Racing NSW operates at 38 per cent of the cost of Victoria despite running approximately 20 per cent more race meetings.’

All this points to the costs at NZRB having the guts ripped out of them. But costs at NZRB will not be scrutinised alone, because the code bodies are certain to get the same treatment as are the Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) and the Judicial Control Authority (JCA).

This cumbersome set-up is not only expensive but poorly conceived and possibly destined for the dustbin. Messara overhauled ‘Integrity’ in NSW and setup a Racing NSW Investigation and Surveillance Unit amongst many other associated reforms that streamlined the integrity side of racing. This could well be the template for an alternative New Zealand model.

Other reforms that Messara addressed and vastly improved during his tenure for Racing NSW included industry modernisation sustainability, animal welfare and jockey welfare. He was also the overseer of NSW thoroughbred prize-money increasing from $118 million to $203 million per annum and he was instrumental in the creation of The Championships.

It all points to Messara being the perfect man for the job. But despite the impressive CV and his impartiality, immediate criticism was levelled by National Party Spokesperson for Racing Ian McKelvie who released a statement a day after the Peters announcement entitled ‘Shine coming off Peters’ racing crusade’.

But the only shine detected in McKelvie’s press release was that radiating from the adjacent photo of his own bald head. He contended the Messara appointment was contrived only to ‘deliver the answers Mr Peters was wanting on behalf of his supporters’ and the delay to the racefields legislation was costing the industry unnecessarily.

McKelvie’s words barely justify a response, except to say that with the shallow knowledge displayed in his rant it doesn’t look good for racing if National eventually regained power and this ill-advised pretender was to become the Minister for Racing.

When former Prime Minister and legal expert Geoffrey Palmer was used as an adviser to the racing industry back in 2002, he told the authors of the Racing Act 2003 that they should get the wording of that legislation absolutely correct because the train stops at the station only once every 15 to 20 years. Here we are 15 years later with the race-fields legislation on hold for very good reason.

The new legislation will not be rolled out until after the Messara Report has been lodged and then considered by the Minister and to which the race-fields legislation will be added and rolled into one package. The racing industry will get only one chance at this and that’s why Peters confided a month ago, “It’s very complicated and very slow to write but it has to be right before we roll it out.”

In the meantime, Messara will be seen here talking to what he described last week as the ‘key players of the industry’.

Knowing Messara, he will be avoiding those who look as though they know the answers, or those who would have him believe they know the answers. Instead, he is more likely to seek the company of those who are trying to understand the question.

To read this and other important industry stories in The Informant each week email ADMIN@RACINGMEDIA.CO.NZ. Mention W@W and get 20% off an online subscription.

 

 

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Interestingly, myself and many others who regularly contribute to the Racecafe banter, have regularly hammered home the point that "COSTS" have to be cut. I've mentioned it many many times. There's been no attempt at all to rein in the ludicrous cost of running racing in NZ.

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14 hours ago, gubellini said:

John Messara can’t come soon enough!Tomorrow the time honoured Easter Handicap is to be run at Counties the stake being a pitiful $100,000. 20 years ago in 1998 the race was won by Aimee Jay ridden by Kelly Davidson. Yes the stake was $100,000.

Run at Counties and not even at Easter - who was the genius that came up with that???

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So Ellerslie is going ahead with a 1/2 arsed drainage job instead of installing a Strathayr track like Moonee Valley?

Surely they should be told to wait for the Messara report before doing anything? Whatever they do now is likely to be a waste of time and money.

The hardest thing for the industry to swallow will be if he recommends significant racetrack centralisation. If he does do that then it’s essential for Ellerslie to be Strathayr or similar. 

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Yes, that gets my back up, mentioned it to a committee man..... ooops Board man a few months back and you should have heard his response, no idea! We are going to put up new tie-up stalls, can you please tell me if it is true that one prominent NZ racing owner is paying for these? As I have always said, I love going to Ellerslie to race, but I can see in 5 years time, oh, we have to close down for the winter, off you go to Ruakaka, more cost to the owners!

Fine having money in the bank, get a surface you can race on regularly, get the punters into a pattern, and you might just get a few back that NZ racing has chased away over the years!

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Ian McKelvie’s comments on the racing industry are bordering on vandalism and betrayal. But I just don’t get what politicians don’t get about this racefields legislation?  If after 15 years of incompetence, hidden agendas and bullying, why should anything surprise? National Party should bow their collective heads in shame, but they’re too arrogant to acknowledge through their inaction they have decimated an industry...whilst I welcome John Messara’s appointment, I can only pray the big ship which carries a lot of non paying passengers is decommissioned. 

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5 hours ago, poundforpound said:

The dreamers of racing ( read the ignorant and uneducated ) might subscribe to this appointment but the intelligent and the informed are deeply suspicious, and we harbour deep reservations about the likely outcome.

 

 

 

'we', says the person who deludes himself that he is a mover and a shaker! knows nothing about politics! as shown by the posts above!  

remind everyone about what happened when you had the chance at making change when given the chance via the Trainers Assoc... poisoned that lot as you do anything you touch!  stick to being a bartender! 

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Memo Leo

Why don’t you get on the List of your beloved National Party at the next election and become the next Racing Minister? Then all our problems will be solved! You wouldn’t have to extend yourself much to beat the record of those also rans Nathan Guy and David (Invisible Man) Bennett.

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I just can't see how this is going to be the silver bullet NZ racing needs.

Didn't Australia have the contributions from bookmakers etc to improve prizemoney, have infrastructure in place that is centuries ahead of where NZ racing is and most important of all have racing as a  sport in Australia that is major player in the sporting landscape of the nation? 

I would have thought what he'll find in NZ is that there is no juice left in the provincial clubs/product and the real need to change needing to happen at the metropolitan level and obviously in both administrative bodies from both a financial and operational standpoint. As an example there are several of the larger clubs around the country that could surely be amalgamated into one body and thus save the industry $$ , can anyone see that happening?

Surely it doesn't take an import to write a report to tell us that, its been well known for years.

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22 minutes ago, Huey said:

I just can't see how this is going to be the silver bullet NZ racing needs.

 

It may not be Huey, but its a heck of a lot better than what has been happening for years. anything that does happen is only a temporary stay of execution I am afraid unless some key fundamentals are addressed. As P4P posts above "society despises racing on many levels" this unfortunately will ultimately see racing struggle to survive the next 20 years. Racing's got 3 serious challenges if its going to make it through.

1) Aging population - those interested are aging and becoming less financial.

2)Costs - the costs to race a horse in NZ are out of control, the people providing the product are getting financially hit in all directions.

3) Societal Change - the biggest challenge is that society is becoming less tolerant of anything to do with farming animals, racing is a very easy target as its linked to gambling. https://www.stuff.co.nz/world/asia/103299091/a-kangaroo-wouldnt-hop--so-zoo-visitors-in-china-stoned-it-to-death this article has been one of the lead Stuff stories over the last 2 days, seriously it was a kangaroo in a chinese zoo 2 years ago ffs. Really highlights how much society has shifted in thinking.

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1 hour ago, barryb said:

It may not be Huey, but its a heck of a lot better than what has been happening for years. anything that does happen is only a temporary stay of execution I am afraid unless some key fundamentals are addressed. As P4P posts above "society despises racing on many levels" this unfortunately will ultimately see racing struggle to survive the next 20 years. Racing's got 3 serious challenges if its going to make it through.

1) Aging population - those interested are aging and becoming less financial.

2)Costs - the costs to race a horse in NZ are out of control, the people providing the product are getting financially hit in all directions.

3) Societal Change - the biggest challenge is that society is becoming less tolerant of anything to do with farming animals, racing is a very easy target as its linked to gambling. https://www.stuff.co.nz/world/asia/103299091/a-kangaroo-wouldnt-hop--so-zoo-visitors-in-china-stoned-it-to-death this article has been one of the lead Stuff stories over the last 2 days, seriously it was a kangaroo in a chinese zoo 2 years ago ffs. Really highlights how much society has shifted in thinking.

No argument from me there Barry but of the 3 things you've mentioned 1 & 3 I can't see this report having much impact on and the 2nd one is widely known and has been for sometime so why would it be taken any more seriously because an Australian identifies it as an issue?

I guess the point I'm trying to make is the problems with the Industry have been blindly obvious for some time why will this report be any different and instigate change?

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If Ian McKelvie is now the Nats racing spokesperson,  and is apparently a well connected and well versed racing man, why is it only now that he has voiced an opinion? If he has the answers to extract our ailing industry from further misery, why did he not come out prior (last 9 years) with a plan? Unfortunately all I see is political opportunism....which garners mistrust in many of us.

whilst many contributors to this forum are decidedly suspicious of JM, I can empathise....believe me, I do...but if only half of what he has identified can be implemented, then we’re a bit further down the resurrection path...otherwise our industry is not sustainable in its current form. As I have mentioned several times on this forum, Miss Aderns “colours nailed to the mast” agenda is child poverty...and racing is not going to get that pokie money over shoeless kids...

 

 

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Further to my post, where I say believe me, here in Australia, JM has had many knockers over the years due to him being very, very successful and where the Aussie tall poppy syndrome prevails. if JM’s knockers could match half of his achievements, they would only be a fraction of the way to his level of success! 

I do hope he is being paid an amount commensurate with his track record! 

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7 hours ago, poundforpound said:

Copied from his Wiki page

 

McKelvie was named as the National Party candidate for the Rangitīkei electorate following the announcement by sitting member Simon Power of his retirement from politics.[4] At the 2011 election, McKelvie won the seat with a majority of 9,382 ahead of Labour's Josie Pagani.[5] He currently serves on three select committees: primary production; regulations review; and law and order.[6] McKelvie was re-elected in the Rangitīkei electorate during the 2014 New Zealand General Election with an increased majority.[cit

 

I know it’s hard to comprehend for some La Zip but he’s only just been appointed National’s Racing spokesperson ( do they still have shadow Ministers ?) since this latest minority coalition took over.

Are you suggesting he should’ve been issuing media statements about other Minister’s portfolios previously ?

 

What I don’t understand if Mr McKelvie has such an interest in thoroughbred racing it seems he has had very little impact on putting his views forward within the Nats party room.  The efforts of the preceding racing minister/s have left this industry in a dire way and he has not pulled a few coat tails within the room to say he can offer THE solution? Just what our industry needs PFP another politician who now espouses a solution after sitting on his hands since 2011...not a lot of credibility in that, wouldn’t you say? 

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Pound for Pound has questioned the success of Ra Ora during Brian De Lore’s tenure as General Manager and also the success of their stallions subsequent to the sale back from Arrowfield to the Fisher family .

Ra Ora stood champion sires Famous Star, Nassipour and Straight Strike during the Fisher owned period. In fact the Stud achieved a famous first when they stood the Champion Sire of Australia and the Champion Sire of NZ at the same time. So the stud has certainly achieved milestones during De Lore’s management time.

So let’s get our facts correct.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 hours ago, poundforpound said:

Single code, and underpinned by two things, an appetite for gambling, and regional / state government intervention and assistance.

Can you help me understand how either or any of the above will apply in NZ ?

OK - the most successful racing jurisdictions in the world are France & Japan... both parimutuel....so tell me why their models cannot be scaled to NZ...of course, the most obvious solution is to license bookmakers...and if that is unpalatable for the electorate to swallow, it’s either that or a once successful, export revenue generating, employment generating, tax generating industry will go the way of the dinosaur....extinct! 

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2 minutes ago, poundforpound said:

Just remind me of the respective populations of the three jurisdictions, not to mention that the production costs in the two others are not relevant because they’re driven by those with discretionary income.

As for becoming dinasours, some amongst us have been warning you of the impending doom for many years, but I remember being told I was an alarmist and trouble maker by two or three high profile members of the racing fraternity ( from Cambridge ) a couple of years ago, well about 6 years ago actually.

Funnily enough they’ve all come back to me recently and said “you were right, we were wrong “, and now the bad news, it’s going to get a lot worse, the model is unsustainable in it’s current form and as long as the ignorant subscribe to these delusional dreams ( like an alcoholic saying let’s have just one more drink ) we cannot and will not fix the problems.

WTF you’d even allow people with no grass roots practical racing experience to run head office defies all common sense and logic so I guess you’re getting what you deserve, now you may as well bend over and enjoy it.

PFP I think you are generalising because you haven’t been warning me...I have known for many years (& espoused so to our local racing community) the model is unsustainable but like you I’ve continued to support the local industry by racing a number of horses spread amongst several trainers. I did this at my peril however I very much respect the grass root trainers who are well aware of the limitations  they face on a daily basis which overrides the realities they/we face.

There is no way I want to see anyone at HO running our industry who doesn’t have grass roots /Hands on experience but as you very well know that is never going to happen because those who appoint administrative leaders are never held accountable. 

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1 hour ago, WOODBINE said:

Pound for Pound has questioned the success of Ra Ora during Brian De Lore’s tenure as General Manager and also the success of their stallions subsequent to the sale back from Arrowfield to the Fisher family .

Ra Ora stood champion sires Famous Star, Nassipour and Straight Strike during the Fisher owned period. In fact the Stud achieved a famous first when they stood the Champion Sire of Australia and the Champion Sire of NZ at the same time. So the stud has certainly achieved milestones during De Lore’s management time.

So let’s get our facts correct.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agree 100%. It’s amazing the way people try to say the opposite just because they go into print first!

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28 minutes ago, poundforpound said:

I asked Brian to elaborate because the only horse I could think of was Straight Strike, but I knew Ra Ora was publicly listed, then taken over by Arrowfield ( Messara ), then brought back by the Fishers, but dispersed when Noel ???? was running the show.

The truth is it was a flop and was driven into oblivion wasn’t it, like most of the publicly listed breeding operations, eg Waikato, Trelawney, Blandford, Troy Corporation, and others....but you wankers can pretend otherwise if it helps your silly fucking delusions 

FYI I wasn’t asking about the stud under the Fisher or Fisher trust management, I was asking about the de Lore and Arrrowfield period of control.

 

Straight Strike was never anywhere near the place. Famous Star (of which I was a shareholder) Nassipour and the failure Sackford were there under auspices of Brian De Lore. What’s more he purchased Rolls too in his time there. If you don’t know who Rolls was, look her up. 

Talking about Noel, the less said the better.

P.S. I had horses in partnership with Ra Ora thoughout this later period right up into the finial dispersal. 

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1 hour ago, poundforpound said:

Hence I’m asking, I can’t remember which stallion stood where, and as for Nassipour and Sackford, spare me, they’re both very average sires although a Nassipour did sire two champions.

My inference based on my fading memory is that Arrowfield, Messara and BdL we’re largely failures at Ra Ora ( is that correct because if it is WTF are we hoping they’re the white knights now ? )

What was Noel’s surname ?

 

Presume you mean Noel Robinson who was Chairman...?

They had Pharamond and Sovereign Edition initially, then Stunning, Imposing, Nassipour, Famous Star, Straight Strike and Desert Sun, and a number of shuttle stallions later on.

 

 

 

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