HRNZ chief executive explains decision to remove four meetings

A New Zealand Racing Board  report this week, outlining the 2015/2016 season race dates,  said that: “Harness Racing NZ  has decided to consolidate in a bid to increase field sizes and improve the quality of racing. A total of four race meetings and 59 races have been removed from the 2015/16 season…”

Harness Racing New Zealand was asked to explain the decision more fully.

HRNZ Chief Executive, Edward Rennell replied.
“Regarding your query concerning dates.

The draft calendar provides for 4 meetings less – or 50 races less overall. It is hard to summarise the four deleted, as there are “swings and roundabouts” either way. Attached is a schedule summarising the licences on a club and regional basis. In considering this, you need to note the impact of Franklin merging with ATC and Morrinsville into HR Waikato. Overall on a regional basis the calendar can be summarised as:

  • North Island: – 3
  • Upper South/Canterbury: +1
  • Lower South: -2

The approach taken was to review the calendar on a week to week basis, and ensure meetings were programmed to compliment the horse population within each region. An example of three licenses deleted were:

Manawatu Monday licence in March that was unsustainable from a financial point of view (turnover on a Monday very limited). A similar case was with a Southland Tuesday licence.

Forbury Park licence in January – with January 2 falling on a Saturday and its traditional meetings on that date, it meant a congestion of weekend dates later in the month, whereby there was no available hole for the FPTC late January meeting, without compromising other meetings in the region at the time. One concern however is the resulting gap between meetings this has created at Forbury, so we are reviewing to see if there are any other options to “slot” this meeting back in

In terms of the 59 races reduced, the four overall meeting reduced probably account for 40 of these. The balance are where this season we may have had a greater number scheduled than what has been raced. To enable better budgeting we have reduced the number of races at some meetings to better reflect what is likely to happen in terms of numbers nominating. Eg. some meetings scheduled for 11 races this season are in at 10 next season. This does not prevent us running more if the number nominating at the time support it. All we have tried to do is be more realistic in the calendar as to what is likely to happen.

With declining horse numbers given breeding stats, there is no doubt there will be some further reductions in the years ahead. That is something we will have to manage carefully, along with increased use of the available horse population that we have.

Money saved from running less races  will be factored into the overall funding policy and spread across all meetings, noting in the current season we were running down reserves by budgeting to spend slightly more than we were earning from the NZRB.

Bigger fields and quality. It is generally accepted that the greater the field size the greater the turnover. With future funding likely to include a component based on NZRB gross betting margin, it is in our interests to improve this where possible.”

Summary of Differences between 2014/15 and 2015/16 HR calendar

North Island 14/15 Season 15/16 Season Variance
Auckland TC 33 44 11
Bay of Plenty HRC 2 2 0
Cambridge HRC 23 25 2
Franklin TC* 8 0 -8
Hawera TC 3 3 0
Kapiti Coast HRc 2 2 0
Kumeu TC 3 1 -2
Manawatu HRC 16 15 -1
Morrinsville TC* 2 0 -2
Northland HRC 1 0 -1
Stratford TC 1 1 0
Taranaki TC 2 2 0
Thames HRC 4 2 -2
Wairarpa HRC 3 3 0
Wanganui TC 1 1 0

*Franklin merged with ATC and Morrinsville merged with HR Waikato

Canterbury 14/15 season 15/16 season Variance
NZ Metro TC 36 38 2
Akaroa TC 1 1 0
Amberley TC 1 1 0
Ahsburton TC 8 7 -1
Banks Peninsula TC 6 6 0
Cheviot HRC 1 1 0
Geraldine TC 2 2 0
Hororate TC 1 1 0
Kaijoura TC 1 1 0
Marlborough TC 6 6 0
Methven TC 4 4 0
Nelson HRC 4 4 0
Rangiora HRC 11 11 0
Reefton TC 2 2 0
Timaru HRC 7 7 0
Waimate TC 1 1 0
Westport TC 3 3 0


Southern 14/15 Season 15/16 Season Variance
Central Otago TC 1 1 0
Forbury Park TC 23 22 -1
Oamaru HRC 7 7 0
Kurow TC 1 1 0
Roxburgh TC 1 1 0
Tupeka TC 1 1 0
Waikouaiti HRC 2 2 0
Gore HRC 5 5 0
Invercargill HRC 15 14 -1
Northern Southland TC 3 3 0
Riverton TC 1 1 0
Wairio TC 2 2 0
Winton TC 7 7 0
Wyndham HRC 6 6 0


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