Courtesy of HarnessLink
In January of this year, we raised the matter of the starter Peter Lamb being used as a steward at a harness racing meeting at Nelson.
When we approached Harness Racing New Zealand about the conflict of interest that existed between the two positions, we were assured it was a cost saving measure at the busiest point of the holiday racing period and that it was only a temporary measure.
Unfortunately that has not turned out to be the case.
Peter Lamb continues to be both a starter and a steward on raceday and in our view he cannot be both.
The response from HRNZ about the obvious conflict of interest should a complaint be made against the actions of the starter to the stewards panel of which Peter Lamb is also a member was that he would excuse himself in such circumstances.
But the point we made then and which we still firmly believe is it leaves the whole system open to allegations of favouritism and corruption.
Peter works very closely with his fellow stewards for weeks on end and then when a complaint is made against his performance as a starter, the people to decide weather to charge him are the same people who he works very closely with at every race meeting.
We firmly believe that there has to be a separation between those who enforce HRNZ regulations and those who work under those rules.
Is HRNZ that cash strapped that it cannot afford to adequately staff its stewards positions and therefore needs to have staff multi tasking.?
Mike Godber, the head of the Racing Integrity Unit gave Harnesslink the official explanation for the change when speaking to Harnesslink today.
” Including the starter as a member of the stewards panel is a very common practice at most Australian harness racing meetings.”
“With costs being what they are today we have to look to make savings where ever possible.”
“It is only for racing over the holiday period and at low key meetings and won’t happen at Premier meetings or any of our other feature race meetings.”
“We understand that some people may see a conflict of interest but we are doing our utmost to make the new arrangement work,” Mike said.
We must add that having known Peter Lamb well before he became the starter at Addington, he is a man of the utmost integrity and would make a great steward.
Peter is also widely recognized as the best starter in harness racing in New Zealand.
However he can either be a starter or a steward but in our view he can’t be both.
We are all for cost efficiencies in the administration of harness racing but starters acting as stewards is a step to far for us.
There is a massive conflict between the two positions and in an age where perception is reality to a lot of people, it is not a good look for harness racing in our view.
Finally we think by making this change, Peter Lamb has been put in the unenviable position where his integrity will be questioned by some in the industry and that is not something that any employee should have to suffer.
Orginal article can be found here