Conference Report

Hi All

I just thought that you might be interested in what happened at this years annual report

Conference started at lunch time on the 29th July 2016 and after the chairman’s welcome the minister for Racing Nathan Guy gave  a video message  as he was in Australia at another conference

Then we had a talk from the chief Executive of the NZ Racing board John Allen on the issues facing the New Zealand Racing Board. Its fair to say that the racing board are facing some very major challenges over the next few years and their aim is to increase profits and make a larger distribution to the 3 codes which would have a flow on effect in stakes. They are also facing some major capital expenditure  which has to be found from some where. John Allen is a very good speaker.

Then there was a panel discussion   with  some  of the racing board managers  which did generate a lot of questions from the club delegates.

Some of the discussion

  • More jackpots on first 4  especially on the last few races because if they are not struck and there is a large carry forward  means that the turnovers would increase considerably
  • Operators  require better training interesting point a lot of the operators are not staff of the racing board.
  • Try and minimize Trackside costs better especially with the 2 day racing
  • Why Cannot overseas customers become account holders of NZ Tab   something being worked on
  • Publicize early books for fixed odds betting
  • How can  the  TAB advertise there products   for their customers in a better manner
  • TAB wont to grow their customer base

The panel did answer all the questions as best they could .

However it was very evident   we are a small country  betting wise compared to racing from the rest of the world and for us to get more money in stakes our racing turnover has to increase and costs reduce.

I am not sure how we do this but we have to try and get people back to the races  and get them betting.  Our problems could be solved if we got crowds to the races like they were years ago and wouldn’t this be great to see.

We then had a presentation from Fast Track Insurance (they are insurance brokers) and you may have seen their extensive advertising on  Trackside previously. Fasttrack  insurance want  to quote for your domestic insurance  House, contents, cars , boats caravans etc. You  may find  that your insurance could be cheaper than  what you are paying at present

If you want a quote all you have to do is email  just snap shot your insurance details and send an email and they will make contact with you. Phone number is 0800 722 369. You can also request a broker to make contact with you to discuss further. For all successful quotes Fasttrack will pay a percentage of the premium to Harness racing New Zealand . Quotes are free and you could end up still with the same company that you are currently with.

We then moved onto a presentable  from Harness racing  Australia by the Chairman Geoff Want. They are having the same problems   as us  with wagering  being  fairly static. Breeding numbers for the 2015/16 season  are expected to be just over 5800 about 100 down on the prior season. They are currently experiencing strong yearling sale prices and  strong clearance rates  . They expect an upsurge in trotting numbers in the coming breeding season with scores of broodmares imported from Europe. An alarming state is that research shows only 50% of the standardbred foal crop race, although another 6-8% go onto breed without having raced. They are  also planing to microchip all foals  each season Horses  will still be freeze branded until the industry adapts to the new technology and work practices. Vets will microchip foals when they take hair for DNA testing. Integrity is very important as they want to ensure a level playing field for the well being of participants and the image of harness racing among both punters and the broader community.

Interdom and Grand circuits changes are Inter Dominion heats all at Gloucester park this year Friday November 25th , Wednesday November 30th and Friday 2nd December. Final moved from Sunday to Friday night December the 9th. Prizemoney adjusted $1.1M final, $75K Heats. AG Hunter at Melton on Saturday February 4th to be a mobile start (No more standing starts for pacers in Victoria), Great Southern Star on the same card as the Hunter cup  )Elitloppet system for the trotters dropped) Miracle Mile “Super Sunday ” at Menangle to Saturday night February 25th . Horse imports NZ remains preferred market for many Australian Owners. Predictions that the HRA clearance (import) fee would hurt trade unfounded. Imports for NZ to Aust virtually unchanged since the fee structure amended in April 2013, although reduction in lower priced horses.

Total Imports the last 3 years 571, 576, 569. Overall, imports increased from Europe, Scandinavia and North America.  Equine welfare in Australia is the biggest challenge they face in the next decade especially satisfying community expectations, overcoming public perceptions, convincing politicians  they are responsible and ethical countering the mis-information of animal activists. The live baiting scandal  in 3 states has had major consequences for the industry .NSW special commission of inquiry  found that Live baiting was rife in the greyhound industry and Premier Baird ordered the $300M industry to be shut down from 1.07.17 . Majority in favour of this decision but the impact is on  8000 Participants and the loss of 1000 jobs as well as the fate of the dogs. Harness racing Australia has strong equine welfare ptotocols and has worked closely with the RSPCA for several years .HRA have also tightened whip rules effective 1.05.16, drivers now have to hold a rein in each hand at all times unless adjusting approved gear …. flicking motion…no excessive use. The fallout from the Live baiting scandal  included uncertain future for greyhound racing in other states, impact on wagering, greater pressure on harness & thoroughbred racing. Australian racing has a total turnover from all licensed wagering operators of just over $2.4 Billion.

Day 2 Saturday 30.07.16

HRNZ Funding policy and budget was presented to the conference by the Finance Chair  and approved

We then had an update on the HRNZ regionalisation (super club) which is still work in progress but some clubs have come a long away since last years conference. Draft business plan for the 2016/17 season was adopted.

Then we had a presentation  on  how the Southern Harness  model between the southern clubs will work .

Auckland Trotting Club then gave us a presentation on their future commercial developments  which are huge and when fully completed will give the club a considerable income  stream which should have a flow on effect to stakes in that   region

Andrew Morris then gave us a report on the trial Handicapping system in operation in the North Island and I will be able to give you more of an update on this after next weeks board meeting. As I have indicated before  at this stage it is a trial and I would expect changes be made over time.  Lets give it a chance and I really believe that the system will work and horses will end up eventually racing like for like which has to be great for this wonderful  industry.

We then had the offical AGM  and finished about 3pm

I was fortunate to attend the National Awards held at the Christchurch Casino on the Saturday night which was an excellent  function and well organised. Congratulation to all of  the award winners .

Lastly  all owners will receive shortly an application to join the NZ Trotting Owners Association trading as  the Harness Owners Association  and I urge all owners and interested people  to join. We need a strong voice and without members we cannot achieve this.  I look forward to working  with  you and I will provide another report from next weeks board meeting. Thank you for the opportunity to be your representative.


Greg Crawford

027 778 9493

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