Habibti

Superstar trotting mare back in work

It never takes long in harness racing for a horse to be forgotten when its not racing every week. People move on quickly and focus on what is racing. Habibti 1:56.5T ($283,007) falls squarely into that group as the forgotten superstar of trotting in Australasia. The daughter of Love You had an amazing 3 year old season last year in which she won The New Zealand Trotting Stakes (Group 1), New South Wales Derby (Group 1), New South Oaks (Group 1) and the Victorian Oaks (Group 1) amongst her nine wins. She accounted for Blitzthemcalder, Sheemon, Spidergirl and Royal Aspirations amonst others during the season. Coming back early as a 4 year old, Habibti jumped straight in the deep end and took on Australia's best trotters in Melbourne. The best win was undoubtedly in the Dullard Cup (Group One) where she accounted for Keystone Del, My High Expectations and Aleppo Midas amongst others. Returning to New Zealand, Habibti just started to show signs that all the racing and traveling was taking its toll on her. Trainer/ driver David Butt convinced the owners to miss all the rich plums on offer and give the mare a well deserved break with a view to her coming back bigger and better at five. Prior to that Habibti was served and conceived to top trotting sire Majestic Son and the embryo was transferred to a surrogate mare who is due to foal later in the year. After a lengthy spell Habibti returned to the Butt barn in early May and she is on track to return to the trials in September with a view to being ready for Cup week at Addington. Thought is being given to another embryo transfer early in the new season with Angus Hall and Andover Hall the main sires in consideration. To add further to Habibti's value as a future broodmare is the emergence of her full sister Habibti Ivy who was 11 seconds under the previous New Zealand record for 2400 meters from a stand when she qualified for trainer Paul Nairn in 3:09.5 at Ashburton on Tuesday 29th July. On that run, Habibti Ivy will be a serious player in the 3 year old classics next season. Meanwhile Habibti only needs to reproduce her early 4 year old form to once again become a serious contender in all the major trotting races next season. After looking after Habibti's welfare so well in the last twelve months, David Butt and the ownership group deserve to reap the rewards of their patience over the next twelve months with this outstanding mare. Harnesslink media      

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Bets of the week ring-around – July 31

Last week was possibly the worst ever for the ring-around with just the one winner. However, that one winner, Equulei, tipped by Jay Abernethy, did pay odds of $10.70 and $2.50. Let’s see what the boys have come up with for us this week: Addington – Thursday Jonny Cox: Thinks 2-win mare Pay Me Quick, who has been in sublime form of late, will be hard to beat against non-win rivals in the first race on the card. Ricky May: Has opted for the very smart Dalton Bromac, who looks half of the quinella with Wesley Silcox – race four. Matthew Williamson:  Expects Very Persuasive to prove very hard to beat in the Golden Girls Final – race eight. Ken Barron: Has a massive opinion of Bracken Ridge and expects him to be simply too classy for his rivals in the last race on the card. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Bracken Ridge – race nine. Alexandra Park - Thursday Josh Dickie: Thinks Sunny Vacation, with manners, is the one they all have to beat in race six. Scott Phelan: Thinks the inform Cyamach, who is likely to head to Australia for the Breeders Crown, can continue on his winning ways – race seven. Todd Mitchell: Is bullish about the chances of Tangos Delight, who looks a strong chance in the eighth race on the card. Simon Lawson: Thinks Shedontloveme is a very good each-way chance in the last race on the card. Kurow – Sunday Blair Orange: Thinks Quaint Glen, who had trialled up stylishly prior to her debut third, can win the first race on the card. Tim Williams: Has opted for Lovetodream, who also looks a good chance in the first race on card. Gavin Smith: Thinks Billies A Star, who has been ultra impressive at the trials, should prove too strong for what looks an average maiden line-up – race five. Mark Jones: Thinks Sunoflindenny, who has been backed and beaten in his first two runs back, can make amends in the sixth race on the card.  

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Linda outshines star stablemate

Champion juvenile Follow The Stars has had to bow to stablemate Linda Lovegrace in their final public outing before heading to Australia for the Breeders Crown. And their trainer Mark Purdon wasn’t surprised. The pair have A$650,000 worth of ABC races ahead of them in the next month and warmed up for their trip to Victoria by finishing only a nose apart at the Ashburton trials on Tuesday. The fact the filly could even keep up with Follow The Stars, who has looked freakish this juvenile season, might surprise some but Purdon says Linda Lovegrace has been a huge improver. “She is definitely a better filly now than say Jewels time,” said Purdon. “She is the one from our team that has really gone on in leaps and bounds.”
 Purdon is also happy with Follow The Stars, who hasn’t raced since being knocked out of the Jewels, his only defeat. Both juveniles won their ABC heats at Addington in walkovers. They will fly out to Melbourne next week with Follow The Stars likely to race in Victoria before the pair contests ABC semi-finals at Ballarat on August 16. They will be joined in Purdon’s care by Arya, Kept Under Wraps and Iceobar, but Vicbred Final-winning three-year-old Messini may stay with ex-pat trainer Brent Lilley, who has been looking after most of Purdon’s Victorian team in the last month. Lilley trained Kept Under Wraps to beat Australia’s best juvenile Birdy Mach in an ABC heat at Shepparton on Tuesday night, suggesting Purdon may have the two favourites for the juvenile division. Purdon says his main NZ Cup hopes Smolda and Adore Me look great, with Smolda only a month away for the trials whereas Adore Me, because she raced later into the season, will not start until October. By Michael Guerin (Harness Racing New Zealand)

The secret of change

The need for change - Clubs in New Zealand

When I talk to overseas harness racing administrators, trainers and owners on my travels and we discuss the management and governance structures of our respective countries and whether they are delivering the best results for participants in our industry, I am frequently having to defend the structure and management of the industry in New Zealand. Northern Hemisphere people struggle to see how you can run harness racing in 2014 with a structure and governance that is a relic of a different time. Northern Hemisphere tracks are owned by either wealthy individuals or companies and they make all the decisions with regards to their tracks. This gives them the ability to adapt their programs and race structure to suit their immediate needs or those of the stakeholders who operate at their tracks. These tracks live or die on the strength of their product and  they try at all times to deliver a superior product to their customers.  As with any structure, there are issues and conflicts but in the main they do a far better job of selling and marketing harness racing to the general public than we do here in New Zealand. Over a period of time I have come to the conclusion that they have a far better management and governance structure than the Southern Hemisphere does. I have given up defending the structure of harness racing in New Zealand and have become a strong advocate for major change in how our industry is governed. How can it be in 2014 that we have a system of governance for our industry that is manifestly inappropriate for a business in the 21st century.  Currently we have a system that is controlled by the trotting clubs of New Zealand. Any major changes to the administration or structure of  ANYTHING  within the trotting industry requires the approval of a majority of those clubs. They meet once a year which means change within the industry happens at a glacial pace. The Executive of Harness Racing New Zealand can tinker at the edges but for anything major they need to take the proposal to the annual meeting of trotting clubs for their approval. Can you imagine any business in 2014 being able to survive and prosper if they were unable to adapt to changing trends and challenges in their business on a regular basis due to the necessity to wait for a once a year meeting for approval. If you speak as I do regularly do to a  lot of the successful businessmen who are involved in the harness racing industry in New Zealand, you quickly appreciate how frustrated they are at the inability to change what many see as a dysfunctional governance and management structure. Both the Auckland and New Zealand Metro trotting clubs have made massive gains in recent years in how they structure and manage their business due to the influence of several successful businessmen on their respective boards. But there is so much more they would like to do both now and in the future but are hamstrung to a certain extent by the current management and governance structure.  So what should any new management and governance structure look like.  First and foremost the clubs should concentrate on what they do best, running their clubs and their race meetings in a professional and profitable manner. That is what they were originally set up to do and most do an exemplary job. But any governance or leadership role in the management structure of harness racing in New Zealand should be withdrawn. The management of the day to day running of harness racing  should remain as it is now. Harness Racing New Zealand employees do a sterling job implementing the current policies and strategies of the industry as set by the executive and we are lucky to have them. The current executive and clubs structure should be replaced by a board that has industry representatives but also has a much stronger business focus and expertise. An eight member board with five business orientated members who have a knowledge of the harness racing industry along with one representative from each of  the three industry groups that have a large monetary investment in the industry; 1)                  Owners 2)                  Breeders 3)                  Trainers/Drivers  Should this board be elected by industry participants or be a mixture of elected /appointed members is something for wiser heads than mine. However the details of how a structure such as this would evolve need to be carefully developed so we don't harm the industry we are trying to help.   Now I can hear the screams emanating from some quarters but I also know from having already had this discussion with many of the major players in the New Zealand Industry that there is a broad consensus on the need for structural change. People involved in the harness racing industry are some of the most passionate people you would  ever come across. Why would you work in this industry with its long hours in any weather if it wasn't for a genuine love of what you were doing. We have some fantastic people in the harness racing industry in New Zealand who do a wonderful job of promoting our sport to the wider public and we have a great racing product that is in my view as good as anywhere in the world. What we don't have is a governance structure that lets this industry flourish. Just have a look at the last twenty years and see how much this industry has changed and progressed. Frozen Semen and Shuttle Stallions have opened our industry up to the very best stallions available worldwide with a result that our equine product has closed the gap enormously with the Northern Hemisphere product. Trackside has taken our racing product to a much wider audience throughout Australasia. Betting options have expanded and harness racing clubs have diversified their income streams. The only thing that has NOT changed for several generations are our governance structures. I have spoken to several government ministers about this issue and the message is always the same. Any change to the present structures must come from WITHIN the industry itself. If this industry is to truly reach its potential and maximize its returns to its stakeholders, then we need a governance structure that is more applicable to the 21st century and not the 19th century. I therefore invite any like minded people who hold a similar view to my own to contact me to see if there is a way we can progress this matter further.  John Curtin JC International jdci@harnesslink.com

In case you have not already signed up for Harnesslink’s great new newsletter called Insider Access, then here is your chance.  Just click here and within seconds you will be on track for the latest news in harness racing that you will not see or read about anywhere else, even on our own website. This week’s newsletter contains the following feature stories: Do we need to have safety checks for Starting Gates? – With the accidents this season at Freehold Raceway and now Summerside Racetrack with starting gates is it time for mandatory safety checks? Well Said Pedigree/Review – Continuing on with our stallion review series today we have produced an in depth review for the very good racehorse and stallion Well Said p,3,1:47.4m ($2,690,693). Bitter-Sweet Meadowlands Closing Weekend - It is a bitter-sweet week for harness racing fans world-wide this coming weekend as the Meadowlands features its final weekend of harness racing action for their summer meet. The need for change in NZ Harness Racing Clubs -  With a structure and government that is a relic of a different time and clubs that can only make a change in format once a year at their annual meetings it is time for a change. Don’t miss out on the next edition of Insider Access. The newsletter currently comes out every other Tuesday morning (North America), Tuesday afternoon (Europe) and Wednesday morning (Australasia).

The McMillan Equine Feeds 2014 NZ Junior Driver Championship is set to be a great spectacle this year with 12 drivers from all over New Zealand once again competing for supremacy. Sailesh Abernethy, Tony Cameron, Andrew Veint, Dylan Ferguson, Shane Butcher and Andre Poutama make up the North Island team. Sam Ottley, Robbie Close, Michelle Neilson, Katie Cox, Craig Ferguson and Brad Williamson make up the South Island team. The championship will be run over three races at Addington Raceway on Thursday night (July 31). These  fields can be seen below. As the highest point scorers, Sailesh Abernethy and Sam Ottley, will captain their respective islands in the Inter-Island Challenge, a competition which was won last year by the North Island team. Sam Ottley, Andrew Veint, Brad Williamson and Andre Poutama all competed in the Championships last  year.  Fixed odds betting for the Championship will open on Thursday morning with the TAB. Unfortunately Katie Cox and Shane Butcher miss drives in the first heat, but they will be accorded 7 points each under the conditions of the series. For the fields on Thursday night  click here

There is waiting a long-time between drinks and then there is dying of thirst and Tim Trathen probably came close to later. But if he continues to drive his promising trotter Summer Vacation and drives him in the way he did at Rangiora on Sunday he probably won’t have to wait another ten years before driving his next winner. The popular farrier trained a winner earlier in the season and one back in 2011 but on Sunday it was the first time Trathen had driven a winner since 2004. Sent straight to the front by Trathen, Summer Vacation was allowed to dictate terms in front before sprinting strongly in the straight to hold off the talented Commander Paris. He came his last half in 59.8 and his last quarter in 29.2 to hold on for a game win. By Dream Vacation out of five win mare In Command, Summer Vacation is a close relation to top race mare Meniscus. He was now had six starts for a win and a further three placings and has been driven by Trathen on each of those six occasions. Trathen has now trained 15 winners and driven 26 (since 1986) but is more widely known for his work as a blacksmith and a breaker. He did the early educating of Jewels winner Cowgirls N Indians before selling his share in the boom filly. Meanwhile, Madiba Magic broke the track record at Rangiora for a 2000 metre mobile when pacing the distance in a slick 2-24.8. Driven by Sam Ottley, the erratic Christian Cullen four-year-old was kept back from the gate early before lobbing the one-one. He then unleashed a powerful sprint in the home straight to overhaul stablemate Lumos and favourite Explosive Art. Madiba Magic is out of superstar Washington VC mare Foreal, who notched up a double for the weekend. Her smart Art Major two-year-old son Field Marshal was an impressive winner at Cambridge on Thursday and will now head to Australia for the Breeders Crown. By Mitchell Robertson

Simon McMullan has decided to end his junior driving days on a high. The 25-year-old Franklin horseman steered Take A Hint to victory on co-trainer David Butcher’s 50th birthday at Cambridge Raceway last Thursday night – and then said that’s his race-day driving was all done and dusted. “Who knows I might return to the sulky one day, say if I lease a trotter and have to drive him, but that’s it for now. “I certainly won’t be driving as an open horseman next year. I want to concentrate on one thing at a time. I’m in a privileged position working for Steven and I want to keep improving as a trainer. “That’s where my focus is now,” McMullan said. Take A Hint won the last race of the season at Cambridge. He and McMullan sat in the trail and then pounced to win the $7,000 Fairview Motors Mobile for C2-C4 pacers. They won by three quarters of a length pacing the 2200m mobile in a slick 2:42.8 with final 800m and 400m sprints of 58.5 and 29.8 seconds. The black Washington V C gelding won with a 1:59 mile rate. It was the 4-year-old’s fifth win in 28 starts. He was the third favourite and paid $8 to win. “He’s a nice horse. Not many pacers can go 2:42 and that tells me he’s got a couple of wins left in him yet. “It’s a drive I won’t forget in a while,” McMullan said. Pukekohe-based McMullan has driven 55 winners since taking out his licence in 2008. He’s also placed 130 times from his 648 starts, and won $428,521 in stakes. Training-wise he has won 29 races and just over $360,000 since joining forces with Reid at the start of the season. They finished 19th on the national training premiership. But McMullan has been with ‘The Reid Man’ for eight years now. “Steven had no right to make me a partner in his stable at the start of the season. He has rewarded me for my loyalty to him and for that I’m extremely grateful. “That’s why I want to give the driving away. I want to repay Steven’s faith in me and keep doing my best and learning from him,” McMullan said. McMullan’s first training wins came via Roger Ramjet and Sweet Jane in races one and four at Alexandra Park on August 16. McMullan was educated at Burnside High School and has worked for Brent Lilley, Brendon Hill and Doug Gale prior to coming to Reid’s Pukekohe stable. His work ethic soon ensured he was stable foreman before being promoted to a partner on August 1. Reid and McMullan are working a team of about 25 out of the Franklin Trotting Club’s complex on Station Road. “We’ve got some nice young horses coming through the ranks. Potentially I think our rising 3-year-old Art Major colt - Zennart is the most promising racehorse we have got. He won really well first-up at Alexandra Park on Friday. “My ambition is to train a Group One winner next season. Hopefully some of the younger horses or perhaps Unforgiving can do that for us,” McMullan said. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Harnesslink has become aware of the recent death of  that well known harness racing identity, Ian Hunter who was involved in the harness racing industry from the 1950s through to the late 1980s. Ian died last week at the Waikato Hospice after a short illness at the age of 75. Forever known in the harness racing industry as the brother of Hall of Fame inductee Charlie Hunter, Ian was a well respected trainer in his own right. Over the course of his career Ian trained 114 winners on his own account with another 12 winners from the time Ian trained in partnership for 18 months with Bevan Paterson. One of the better performers to pass through his hands was the former smart juvenile, Major Lord 2:00.1 ($67,353). In his early years he worked for his father Jack Hunter when he trained for the late Sir Roy McKenzie from a property at Moonshine in Upper Hutt from where they won the 1964 trainers premiership with brother Charlie doing most of the driving. The most memorable driving success for Ian was when he drove Scottish Command from 60 yards behind to win the 1959 Auckland Cup for Sir Roy McKenzie. Harnesslink would like to pass on our condolences to his wife Pat and family at this time.     Harnesslink media

For anyone to be a commercial breeder in the standardbred industry in New Zealand means they usually need a benevolent banker and a determination to stick it out for the long term. It is a part of the harness racing industry that sees a lot of participants come in all gung ho and leave a short time later, wiser and poorer for the experience. A small number have been able to structure their breeding operations in such a way that not only are they profitable but they produce a high quality and successful product to boot. At the forefront of this small group in New Zealand is the founder of Studholme Bloodstock, Brian West. Recently we travelled to his magnificent 300 acre property at Coes Ford in Canterbury to spend an afternoon with Brian to get an over view of his involvement to date and what the future holds. Harnesslink When did you first develop an interest in the Harness Racing Industry. Brian West  My first memories were as a thirteen year old. That interest grew to the point where in my early twenties  I  purchased my first horse. I used to go to local dispersal sales looking to pick up well bred stock with a view to trading them further down the track. Harnesslink Anyone you turned to for advice in those early days. Brian West Jim Dalgety was a great help in those early days and I still seek his advice at times today. He has a wealth of knowledge and is very generous with his time. Alec Purdon and Des Callaghan (Tara Lodge) were two others that I sought out in those early years and they both helped me immensely. I am indebted to them all for their help. Harnesslink How did Yonkers Breeding Partnership come about? Brian West In 1986, I set up Yonkers Breeding Partnership in conjunction with four close friends of mine. We floated the partnership and it ended up with 100 investors all up. The aim was to target the top end of the yearling market. The partnership purchased the bloodstock and things looked to be coming together nicely when out of the blue the government of the day completely changed the tax structure for bloodstock. That completely compromised the financial viability of Yonkers Breeding Partnership. As a result we sold down the bloodstock over a period of three years at a significant loss. The partnership was very fortunate however as the funding borrowed from Barclays Bank was secured against the bloodstock and not the investors so the money lost by the investors was minimal. In 1986, we set up Club Classics Syndicates as an outlet for some of our bloodstock. The first syndicate was made up of seven horses with seven different trainers but we were having trouble selecting the seventh horse for the package. Robert Dunn went and looked at a group of horses we owned and to our surprise chose a smallish plain looking Stampede colt as the seventh horse. Of course he turned out to be Defoe 1:53 ($423,372) and that gave the syndicates a lot of creditability going forward. We were based at the old Watties farm in Shands road at the time and we had employed Michael House to do all the pre-training of the syndicate horses which also helped in their success. Harnesslink How did Yonkers Breeding Partnership (1989) come about. Brian West After the wind up of Yonkers Breeding Partnership, a few of the investors wanted to start again. So we wrote to the 100 original investors and offered them the opportunity to be involved. About 10% took up the offer and together we formed Yonkers Breeding Partnership (1989). We purchased the ten best pedigreed mares from the original Yonkers portfolio. Harnesslink How long did Yonkers Breeding Partnership (1989) last for? Brian West A little over twelve years all up. Most of the investors were coming up to retirement and wanted to free up some cash. The Bloodstock was valued and purchased by Studholme Park (BD West) The partnership made a profit every year of its twelve years, something I and manager, Jack Hartley, were very proud of, as they were very difficult days in the standardbred industry in New Zealand. Harnesslink At what point did the bloodstock operations evolve to their present name of Studholme Bloodstock? Brian West Studholme Bloodstock was formed in January 2003. Taking ownership of the bloodstock formally owned by Studholme Park (BD West) Harnesslink Why did you move from the Shands road property as it was beautifully set up Brian West I was looking to down size our breeding operation to create more leisure time, at the same time a developer made an offer to purchase the Shands Road property. I wasn't sure where I was going to go but I ran into an old friend of mine in real estate and not long after that he convinced me to have a look at the farm we are presently on. I would have to be honest and say when I first saw the property as I drove in, I was less than impressed as the house and outbuildings looked very run down. But my friend convinced me to have a look at the farm and I am glad I did because it is an outstanding property. I purchased 70 acres at first and then further down the track I purchased an additional 230 acres of an adjoining property to give me the 300 acres we presently have. It is a beautifully set up farm with 10 acre paddocks and shelter to each paddock from the easterly and the southerly winds. The earthquakes destroyed the main house (built in 1863) and I have yet to finalise its future with the insurance company but I have restored the other buildings on the property including the fourteen box ‘mews’, a two-storey stable complex and recently refurbished a small cottage which is now my home. Harnesslink How many stocks does the farm carry? Brian West Can vary from time to time but usually we would be carrying 100 horses and we finish up to 200 cattle as well. We run the cattle behind the horses and we crop some paddocks each year. All our paddocks are sown with a grass mix that has a heavy emphasis on red clover which seems to suit our soil type here. Harnesslink Any outside clients Brian West No, I have turned down dozens of approaches over the years. I do have breeding arrangements with a few people on a 50/50 basis and race some fillies with friends. I would calculate that Studholme Bloodstock owns outright about 70% of the horses on the farm at any one time. I am in breeding and racing arrangements with long term clients and friends: Peter Smith and Winky Foley (Kahukuri Bloodstock), Neville Tilsley, Mike and Sue Grainger (Grainger Bloodstock), John Purvis (Grassy Meadows Farm), Vicky Purdon, Mike Gourdie, Gavin Chin, Graham Gimblett and Ken McDonald of Master Musician and For a Reason fame. Harnesslink You didn’t sell fillies at the sales for a period of four or five years there not long ago .Why? Brian West When I first set up Studholme Park, I sold every foal I bred as that was the only way to pay the bills and keep our heads above water. Buyers of yearlings are generally looking for a reason not to buy and unless they are faultless in conformation and pedigree they were not giving me a return on my investment. As I became more financial and aware that our fillies were being sold at a loss in most instances, I decided to retain all fillies and try them as a race horse. The result of this decision has been very positive for my farm. These days we will sell the odd filly but they have to tick every box before I enter them in the yearling sales. This year I retained nine fillies which have all been broken in. Harnesslink What trainers do you use? Brian West I stopped counting when I got to seventy. These days though I mainly use Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen while I also have some with Cran Dalgety and Robert and John Dunn and Grant Payne. Different fillies suit different trainers. Secret Lotion and Art Critic never really settled at Marks and Natalies but have been in great form since joining Robert and John’s team so I am not afraid to move them if I think it might help. One year I sent seven fillies to Nicole Molander in Sydney. They all won enough money to pay their way and came back home with smart mile rates besides their name which is always helpful when selling at the sales Harnesslink How many have you got for next years’ sales and could you give us a rundown on their programme from weaning up to sale day. Brian West I will have 12 colts and two fillies barring injuries for next years’ sale. We run them in small mobs right through from weaning. They are fed a barley based mix that I have made to our specifications which has a 16% protein component. We change the mix on the 1st of August, reducing the protein component to 13% The hard feed is supplemented with lucerne/red clover baleage and some meadow hay. We have 14 double fenced yearling paddocks which we use during the sale prep. The sales prep starts on December 1st, we bring them in from the paddocks at seven in the morning. Following breakfast, they will be put on a walker for 30 minutes. They stay in for lunch and are put back in their paddocks at two in the afternoon and they stay there overnight. We do that right up to Christmas and then give them ten days off to freshen them up. We will then start again in early January and go right through to the sale which is usually around the 20th February. A lot of trainers/buyers like to come and see the horses on farm and we fit in around them as much as we can. Also, we are part of the very successful sales bus tour. Our main marketing push comes in the form of a booklet showing a photograph of each yearling. Harnesslink Whom would you rate the best horse you have raced –bred—seen Brian West The best horse I have raced would have to be Secret Potion 1:57.5 ($285,313) who won both the Great Northern Oaks (Group1) and Nevele R Fillies Final(Group1). Close behind would be Lancome 1:54.9 ($461,278) who won 13 races including the Harness Jewels  4 year old Diamond (Group1) The best horse I have bred would have to be A Bit Of A Legend 1:54.7 ($720,710) who has won 17 to date including both the two and three year old divisions of the Austrlasian Breeders Crown (Group 1) The best horse I have seen would have to be Lord Module 1:54.9 ($251,750) At his peak he made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up with his speed and power. Harnesslink What have been some of the major changes that you think have been positive for the industry in your time. Brian West Two stand out for me. 1.) The DNA testing regime was a major step forward and made those mistakes of the past impossible. 2.) The other was the introduction of shuttle stallions which allowed the breeders in the southern hemisphere access to the best stallions in the world. Jack Rice, a USA lawyer and John Curtin had to fight tooth and nail to establish shuttle stallions and yet neither has ever had their contribution recognised which is a shame as we wouldn't be where we are today without their efforts. Harnesslink How do you see the future of harness racing and breeding in New Zealand. Brian West One of the major impediments to the future of the harness racing industry in New Zealand is the archaic governance structure that we have in this industry. The ‘Clubs’ run the industry in New Zealand. Clubs were set up to run race meetings and that should be their primary focus. The industry should be governed by a board of directors elected by industry participants, licence holders, breeders and owners. Such a board would free the industry from the glacial pace of change we have under the current structure. The other major problem that needs attention and soon is the lack of any incentives for people to breed. The number of mares bred this last breeding season was the lowest for 45 years and is in a downward spiral. The focus so far has been to increase stakes and that has been successful to a point but still the numbers of mares bred continues to decline. We need to incentivise the breeders to breed. There are several ways you can do that and there are several places overseas which run breeding incentive schemes. Which one would best meet the New Zealand industries needs further evaluation but one thing is certain, the French have it right, twelve and a half percent of every dollar earned is paid to the breeder. If we don't start to reward the people who produce the product that keeps our industry alive then we may not have an industry long term. Harnesslink Thanks for taking the time to speak to us Brian. It is much appreciated. Harnesslink media  

Ex-pat Kiwi harness racing trainer Nicole Molander believes recent stable addition – Mingara has the potential to be one of Australia’s best standing start trotters. The New South Wales horsewoman said she only had to add the finishing touches to the former Jason and Megan Teaz trained mare, who arrived in Sydney on June 12. “She’s won all four of her races easily – beating the best trotters going around at this time of year at Menangle last Saturday. You have to put those wins down to Megan and Jason,’’ Molander said. “The horse came to us in absolutely immaculate condition. I have been very impressed with Megan. Everything we have asked about the horse Megan knew the mare’s traits back to front.’’ Mingara has now recorded four consecutive victories at Tabcorp Park Menangle on June 21, July 8, July 12, and July 26 for her Kiwi owners and breeders Graeme and Barbara Wisnewski. Molander believed Mingara had the potential to possibly match it with Group One-winning stablemate, Keystone Del one day. He will be back jogging next week in preparation for his 2014-2015 campaign. “This mare doesn’t quite have the same zip as Keystone Del but she has been very impressive winning all three of her standing starts. “Megan and Jason have done a splendid job with her. She has immaculate manners and a really nice gait. She gets to the front not long after the start - even off handicaps.’’ Teaz (Megan) deflected the praise saying Mingara’s time was up in New Zealand merely because she had to race off long handicaps against stern opposition. “Nicole is a very good trainer and has rounded her off nicely. We always thought Mingara would go well in Australia,’’ Teaz said. “She was the best of the six we’ve got in work. She would run the fastest sectionals in most of her races but had too much ground to make up off her handicaps. “Potentially, King Of Cool isn’t that behind her. We’ve got a lot of time for him.’’ Mingara was the $1.40 favourite in Saturday’s $20,000 Glenferrie Farms Trotters Handicap. Blake Fitzpatrick had Mingara in front after 30m from her 10 metres handicap. That brilliant start saw her dictate all the pace to win the 2300m event by an increasing 18 metres. She stopped the clock in 2:56.5 with a 2:03 mile rate. She trotted her first quarter in 31.7, second quarter in 31, third in 28.7 and home in 28.3. In New Zealand Mingara raced 27 times for six wins and nine placings from November 2012. Her Kiwi bank balance stood at $46,464. She’s won an extra $25,500 for her four wins at Menangle. The 5-year-old Thanksgiving – Sporty Spice mare won three of her New Zealand assignments this season. Molander said she would now race her throughout the winter and autumn before spelling her in the summer. “We will take her to Victoria if we have to because they have lots of open class standing start events there. We would not be scared to travel with this mare,” Molander said. Meanwhile Teaz, who is in her fourth season of training with husband Jason, has now won 10 races from 79 starters. They have also placed 22 times for $73,152 in stakes. In the sulky junior driver Teaz has won 12 races from 243 starters since 2008. “I prefer training to driving these days. I do love driving the trotters but I really love conditioning horses for our owners,’’ she said. “We are nothing without our owners. I’d like to thank them all very much, especially people like Tony Armstrong, Wayne & Carol Aylward, and my father-and-mother-in-law, Basil and Helen Teaz. “I really enjoy training horses and I get that opportunity because of our owners. Jason and I are very grateful to the people who support us.’’ The 24-year-old horsewoman said the household’s training and broadcasting lifestyles were working well despite her husband Jason being based in Dunedin. “Jason comes back all the time to help me. I also owe a lot to Ray Bradley and Kayla Sharp, who both help me out. We work our team from Ray’s track at Ohaupo.’’ Teaz’s husband Jason was appointed the New Zealand Racing Board’s race-caller in Otago, the West Coast and Tasman in November Last year. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Junior harness racing reinsman Matt Anderson got his All Stars career away to the best possible start when guiding juvenile pacer Bettor With Bourbon to victory at Rangiora today. In what was his first ever drive for Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, Anderson sent the Bettor's Delight two-year-old to the front from barrier three before taking a trail behind favourite Western Art. He then looked flat down the back straight but under the urgings of Anderson he picked up the bit again and finished strongly along the passing lane to down Western Art by half of a length. Livura finished a further length and a half away in third. Anderson, who only started work with All Stars a fortnight ago, took up a spot with the country's leading stable after an opening appeared as a worker and junior driver earlier this month when Purdon's sons Nathan and Michael headed away on their big OE. With the encouragement of mate Nathan, Anderson was quick to, not only take up that opening, but also notch up his first winner in the bullet proof colours. Anderson, 22, returned home to Canterbury to take up the position after spending six months in the North Island working for Purdon’s brother-in-law, leading trainer-driver Tony Herlihy. Anderson said that he had learned a lot from Herlihy and had thoroughly enjoyed his time in the North but he had struggled for drives during his six month stint. "I was stoked to get a good opportunity for All Stars so soon after joining the stable and was pleased that I didn't let them down," beamed Anderson post-race. "Hopefully it is the first on many for the stable." "I am really enjoying working for Mark and Natalie," he added. "They have phenomenal team around them and putting on the colours certainly gives you a lot of confidence." Anderson, who looks a natural in the sulky, does not come from a racing background but gained earlier experience in harness racing through Canterbury trainers Dean Taylor and Robbie Holmes. Matt, who won his first race aboard the Robbie Holmes trained Highview Ember at Rangiora back in August of last year, has now won seven races from just 57 drives. *Bettor With Bourbon was All Stars 21st individual two-year-old winner this season. Their 20th was Big Lucy, who was successful in a heat of the Breeders Crown at Ballarat on Saturday night. By Mitchell Robertson

The McArdle four year old gelding Lord Baltimore has had a few ups and downs in his brief career to date but turned that all around today with a stylish victory in the Ohoka Pace at the Rangiora Harness Racing Club's meeting at Rangiora. A virus and a couple of minor niggles have held Lord Baltimore back from racing in the last few months but he looks ready to make up for lost time now. Originally with Brian Kerr at West Melton, he was transferred to his present trainer Geoff Dunn recently and the change of scenery has turned Lord Baltimore's season around. After being beaten a nose at Ashburton last week at his first start for Geoff Dunn, Lord Baltimore was sent out favourite today. Sent straight to the front by Gerald O'Reilly in todays 2000 meter stand, Lord Baltimore always looked to be cruising in front and when asked for an effort as they turned for home he scooted away for an easy three length win. He paced the 2000 meters from a stand in 2:36, a mile rate of 2:05.5 in the cold winter conditions with closing sectionals of 58.2 and 27.4 Lord Baltimore is raced by three well known stalwarts of the Kirwee Rugby Club in “Dandy” Stewart, “Pup” Hulston and “Gully” Gilmour who have raced horses together for nearly forty years. The trio are well known in harness racing circles in Canterbury for racing horses with the “Celine” tag over the years with the best horse the trio have raced in recent years being Here Lies A Dream 1:50.3 ($89,192) Lord Baltimore is from the Holmes Hanover mare Classy Celine 1:58.3 ($39,041) who is closely related to such smart horses as All Most 1:54.2 ($105,925) and Sycamore (8 wins) It is a family that they bought into when first starting out in the industry in the 1970s on the recommendation of the legendary Jack Litten. While Lord Baltimore has taken his time to make it to the winners circle, on todays display it certainly won't be the last time. Lord Baltimore Harnesslink media

Two of the most well known identities in harness racing in Auckland in Graham Mackie and wife Trish Dunell have always dabbled in both codes. Trish , who is the HRNZ photographer at northern harness racing meetings and Graham have struck the jackpot with one of their homebred thoroughbreds. Read and enjoy. Every owner dreams of getting a racehorse good enough to win a million dollars. Spalato has done it in just four starts for his South Auckland breeder Trish Dunell.  "I'm no student of breeding. I just got lucky." Trish Dunell's economical choice of words hardly does justice to the incredible sequence of events which led to Spalato winning the Group One Singapore Derby. And while it is two weeks since the horse she bred and races with husband Graham Mackie annihilated his rivals in the S$1.15million feature, there's not a morning goes by when she doesn't wake up and think: Did that really happen? Isn't that kind of result reserved for the rich and famous? When she watched a video replay of the race last week, for the umpteenth time, she burst into tears. The excitement of the big win is now being replaced by raw emotion as everywhere she goes she is hugged and congratulated by wellwishers, both friends and strangers. In her email box a message from NZ Bloodstock principal and leviathan owner Sir Peter Vela tells of the inspiration he gained from the feat. Winning a major international Group One feature is nothing new to Sir Peter but it's certainly a novel feeling for Dunell, who has raced horses for nearly 40 years, 10-win trotter Silver Wheels her previous best. The closest Dunell had come to a Group I win before was seeing other owners' joy through the lens of her Canon, as the country's leading equine photographer. So in Singapore, when it came time to honour the horse they call "The Pony" Dunell was lost for words. "There are no words," Dunell managed to get out when interviewed immediately afterwards. For when Dunell looks at Spalato she sees more than the flying machine who under Brazilian jockey Manoel Nunes put a big space on his derby rivals. And she doesn't just think of the ridiculously big dollars - $NZ975,590 to be exact - that the horse has earned in only four starts. She sees the little foal who popped out one October night in 2009 at Highview Stud near Hamilton. And she can't help but recall the trials and tribulations that led to his even being there. Always on the lookout for a bargain - a trait of her whole family, including son Cameron after whom Spalato was originally nicknamed - it seemed like such a good plan to buy Miss Forty Niner at Ashford Park Stud's dispersal sale at Otaki in 1996. The broodmare had seen a few summers but, being by Mr Prospector, was a full sister to the former successful sire Straight Strike. Bloodstock agent Peter Jenkins, instrumental in importing the mare from the States when Sir Arthur Williams' stud was at its prime, recommended Dunell buy her and her weanling filly Delph. Dunell can't recall how much she paid - "but it wasn't a lot" - and as it turned out that seemed just as well as the mare, who already had a chequered breeding history, kept losing her foals when close to giving birth. "I didn't get one foal out of her," Dunell said. "I tried three or four times - Glenmorgan Farm tried too with the same result. I even leased her out and they didn't get a foal either." Any hopes Dunell had of recouping her outlay by racing Delph were dashed when the weak little weanling, by the unheralded Blue Razor, failed to furnish - and she was put to stud, dropping her first foal in October, 2000. But it was Delph's second foal, Aftershock, that gave Dunell and Mackie hope that the family might yet deliver for them. He debuted in winning style in February, 2006, and only seven starts later in November was running in open company, dead-heating for a close second in the Avondale Cup. Sadly, he started roaring and after being operated on, went in the wind again. Knowing how good he could have been, Dunell went in search of his closest relation - Delph's third filly foal. To cut expenses, she had done a foal-for-foal deal with Frank Drummond, sending the mare to his Cheval Stud to be served by Express Duke - "Graeme really liked Express Duke as a racehorse" - Drummond to take the first born and Dunell the second. "When I called him and asked what had happened to the filly he said he was about to sell her as a polo pony. He'd done nothing with her and she was still running round the hills." In the nick of time, Dunell bought the filly, named Ellington who, big and strong, proved a real handful when broken in by Toni Croon. Ellington, however, didn't have much ability and even though she "tried like a tiger" the $150 she earned for fifth in her debut was the extent of her earnings. In four subsequent starts, three for beach trainer Sue Martin, she finished among the tailenders each time. Ellington stopped so quickly in her last go at Avondale, Dunell suspected she may have been bleeding, and decided to quit her. "If they show nothing at all on the track I find homes for them, as riding horses or polo ponies," Dunell said. "I hate to get them put down or give them horrible homes." But Ellington wasn't your typical kids' pony. "She didn't have the right temperament to be someone's favourite pony," said Dunell who got to know her funny little traits during the time she looked after her at their former Takanini property. "She was quite unsociable - very hard to catch. I'm sure she would have been a hermit in the wild. She wasn't even sociable with other mares. She was happier standing with the cows. "It would have been very hard to find a place for her. You couldn't say she was even pretty - she's very plain - she wouldn't have made it in the show ring. "If I had been realistic, she wouldn't have made the cut as a broodmare." Dunell says she puts her decision to breed from Ellington down to her tendency to be "a little potty over the Delph family. "I kept on thinking there has to be another good horse out of this family. But I shouldn't have bred from her - nobody else would have." Perhaps what kept Dunell going was that, while a little cranky, all the family were honest and tried hard. That about summed up the ability of two of Delph's other foals, full sister and brother Divine Miss Em and Roverto, who gave Dunell a thrill when they quinellaed a $5000 maiden race at Waipa in August, 2011. But whatever the reason, Dunell will forever be thankful that she did keep Ellington because Delph is now dead and Ellington's second foal turned out to be Spalato. The hand of fate was on Dunell's side again when Spalato failed to sell as a yearling because he was on the small side. And yet again when Spalato won his second trial and looked like being sold, the deal fell through. So Spalato ended up in Singapore, where the prizemoney puts New Zealand racing to shame and owners get a NZ$840 rebate every time their horses start - unless they run first or last. A small bone chip in his fetlock delayed his debut but since he finally stepped out in May - in a maiden race worth NZ$60,000 - he's never stopped winning and now, with an unbeaten streak of four, he's being talked about as one of the most exciting horses to have raced in Singapore. Dunell's name might not appear as an owner in the racebook - she never bothered to sign the papers to avoid the NZ$530 annual fee - but Spalato is as much her baby as Mackie's who with 15 wins is Singapore's leading owner this season, S$280,000 ahead of Laurie Laxon's Oscar Racing Stable. Since Spalato's boom run, Dunell says she's been told by breeding buffs how her choice to go to the stallion Elusive City was truly inspired. "But it was just luck. All I do is try to make sure they're not too closely bred and I have to like the stallions on type. And that's it. I'm no student of breeding." Dunell said she invariably chose a new stallion, because they were cheaper, and just hoped that the sire would become commercial and not flop. That's why you won't find any big name sires in the list of consorts for Ellington who has been to Royal Gem, Strategic Image and Per Incanto. Ellington is now at Lime Country in the Hawkes Bay, due to foal to Niagara, an Encosta De Lago stallion Dunell and Mackie have a major share in. Lime Country's Greg Griffin is busy breaking in Ellington's latest yearling, who only last week he described as a real "toad" - just like the rest of the family. Ellington's third foal, by Strategic Image, has just joined Spalato in Singapore after three trial placings but Dunell knows the chances of him ending up as good are a million to one. But then Dunell already has her million dollar horse. And the memories she has of that Group One day at Kranji will linger. While trainer John O'Hara, who wept openly as Spalato ran to the line, couldn't feast with them that night because of Ramadan, nearly everyone else did. Staff at the Regent Hotel were kept busy extending tables, then spilling them into another room, as people turned up to help celebrate the big win. And outside, like a beacon to all, sat the motorbike which Spalato's groom Sylvester Gho has had specially repainted with his idol's name and registered racing number 250. You get the feeling Spalato mania has only just begun. Courtesy of Barry Lichter and the Sunday Star Times

Smart three-year-old Sky Major looks right on song for the upcoming Breeders Crown Series in Australia after downing a smart field of older rivals at Alexandra Park last night. The Art Major colt, who was having his first race start since his emphatic victory in the 3YO Emerald division of the Harness Jewels, was driven cold by Zac Butcher, sitting last before moving into the race three wide down the back straight. He then let down strongly in the home stretch to run down Cyamach, who looked home after kicking away at the top of lane. Beyond The Silence finish a further half length away in third after enjoying a nice run in the trail. The Barry Purdon trained star paced the 2200 metre journey in a slick 2:43.3. The official last half was 56.5. However, Sky Major would have gone his last 800 metres a lot quicker as he came from a long way off the pace. The dual Jewels winner, who won a walkover heat of the Breeders’ Crown at Cambridge last week, will now head to Australia to compete in an MO at Melton on the 8th of August before tackling the 3YO Breeders Crown semi finals on August 22. All going well he well then progress through to the rich Group One final on the 30th of August. Cyamach, who was good in second behind the speedy colt, is also likely to head to Australia for the four-year-old male division of the series, while Cambridge winners Field Marshall and Cyclone Kate will also be part of the ever-growing Kiwi contingent heading across the Tasman for the series. Meanwhile, star Australian three-year-old Bling It On, who was thought to be the main danger to Sky Major in the ABC 3yo colts and geldings division, suffered a shock loss to Kiwi export Alleluia in a two horse heat of the Breeders Crown at Albion Park last night and will now head to repechage on the 13th of August. After sitting second while Alleluia set a leisurely pace in front, driver Bart Cockburn set Bling It On a light at the 700 metres. The pair then eyeballed each other until the bend, but it was Alleluia who showed more dash in the straight, sprinting away for a 6 metre win. Alleluia paced his last 800 metres in a sizzling 54.8 with a final quarter of 26.3. Driver Bart Cockburn was questioned regarding his driving tactics on Bling It On when allowing Grant Dixon to go through the first half of the last mile in 68 seconds. Under rule 149 (1) he was suspended for a period of eight weeks. By Mitchell Robertson

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It never takes long in harness racing for a horse to be forgotten when its not racing every week. People move on quickly and focus on what is racing. Habibti 1:56.5T ($283,007) falls squarely into that group as the forgotten superstar of trotting in Australasia. The daughter of Love You had an amazing 3 year old season last year in which she won The New Zealand Trotting Stakes (Group 1), New South Wales Derby (Group 1), New South Oaks (Group 1) and the Victorian Oaks (Group 1) amongst her nine wins. She accounted for Blitzthemcalder, Sheemon, Spidergirl and Royal Aspirations amonst others during the season. Coming back early as a 4 year old, Habibti jumped straight in the deep end and took on Australia's best trotters in Melbourne. The best win was undoubtedly in the Dullard Cup (Group One) where she accounted for Keystone Del, My High Expectations and Aleppo Midas amongst others. Returning to New Zealand, Habibti just started to show signs that all the racing and traveling was taking its toll on her. Trainer/ driver David Butt convinced the owners to miss all the rich plums on offer and give the mare a well deserved break with a view to her coming back bigger and better at five. Prior to that Habibti was served and conceived to top trotting sire Majestic Son and the embryo was transferred to a surrogate mare who is due to foal later in the year. After a lengthy spell Habibti returned to the Butt barn in early May and she is on track to return to the trials in September with a view to being ready for Cup week at Addington. Thought is being given to another embryo transfer early in the new season with Angus Hall and Andover Hall the main sires in consideration. To add further to Habibti's value as a future broodmare is the emergence of her full sister Habibti Ivy who was 11 seconds under the previous New Zealand record for 2400 meters from a stand when she qualified for trainer Paul Nairn in 3:09.5 at Ashburton on Tuesday 29th July. On that run, Habibti Ivy will be a serious player in the 3 year old classics next season. Meanwhile Habibti only needs to reproduce her early 4 year old form to once again become a serious contender in all the major trotting races next season. After looking after Habibti's welfare so well in the last twelve months, David Butt and the ownership group deserve to reap the rewards of their patience over the next twelve months with this outstanding mare. Harnesslink media      
Last week was possibly the worst ever for the ring-around with just the one winner. However, that one winner, Equulei, tipped by Jay Abernethy, did pay odds of $10.70 and $2.50. Let’s see what the boys have come up with for us this week: Addington – Thursday Jonny Cox: Thinks 2-win mare Pay Me Quick, who has been in sublime form of late, will be hard to beat against non-win rivals in the first race on the card. Ricky May: Has opted for the very smart Dalton Bromac, who looks half of the quinella with Wesley Silcox – race four. Matthew Williamson:  Expects Very Persuasive to prove very hard to beat in the Golden Girls Final – race eight. Ken Barron: Has a massive opinion of Bracken Ridge and expects him to be simply too classy for his rivals in the last race on the card. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Bracken Ridge – race nine. Alexandra Park - Thursday Josh Dickie: Thinks Sunny Vacation, with manners, is the one they all have to beat in race six. Scott Phelan: Thinks the inform Cyamach, who is likely to head to Australia for the Breeders Crown, can continue on his winning ways – race seven. Todd Mitchell: Is bullish about the chances of Tangos Delight, who looks a strong chance in the eighth race on the card. Simon Lawson: Thinks Shedontloveme is a very good each-way chance in the last race on the card. Kurow – Sunday Blair Orange: Thinks Quaint Glen, who had trialled up stylishly prior to her debut third, can win the first race on the card. Tim Williams: Has opted for Lovetodream, who also looks a good chance in the first race on card. Gavin Smith: Thinks Billies A Star, who has been ultra impressive at the trials, should prove too strong for what looks an average maiden line-up – race five. Mark Jones: Thinks Sunoflindenny, who has been backed and beaten in his first two runs back, can make amends in the sixth race on the card.  
Champion juvenile Follow The Stars has had to bow to stablemate Linda Lovegrace in their final public outing before heading to Australia for the Breeders Crown. And their trainer Mark Purdon wasn’t surprised. The pair have A$650,000 worth of ABC races ahead of them in the next month and warmed up for their trip to Victoria by finishing only a nose apart at the Ashburton trials on Tuesday. The fact the filly could even keep up with Follow The Stars, who has looked freakish this juvenile season, might surprise some but Purdon says Linda Lovegrace has been a huge improver. “She is definitely a better filly now than say Jewels time,” said Purdon. “She is the one from our team that has really gone on in leaps and bounds.”
 Purdon is also happy with Follow The Stars, who hasn’t raced since being knocked out of the Jewels, his only defeat. Both juveniles won their ABC heats at Addington in walkovers. They will fly out to Melbourne next week with Follow The Stars likely to race in Victoria before the pair contests ABC semi-finals at Ballarat on August 16. They will be joined in Purdon’s care by Arya, Kept Under Wraps and Iceobar, but Vicbred Final-winning three-year-old Messini may stay with ex-pat trainer Brent Lilley, who has been looking after most of Purdon’s Victorian team in the last month. Lilley trained Kept Under Wraps to beat Australia’s best juvenile Birdy Mach in an ABC heat at Shepparton on Tuesday night, suggesting Purdon may have the two favourites for the juvenile division. Purdon says his main NZ Cup hopes Smolda and Adore Me look great, with Smolda only a month away for the trials whereas Adore Me, because she raced later into the season, will not start until October. By Michael Guerin (Harness Racing New Zealand)
When I talk to overseas harness racing administrators, trainers and owners on my travels and we discuss the management and governance structures of our respective countries and whether they are delivering the best results for participants in our industry, I am frequently having to defend the structure and management of the industry in New Zealand. Northern Hemisphere people struggle to see how you can run harness racing in 2014 with a structure and governance that is a relic of a different time. Northern Hemisphere tracks are owned by either wealthy individuals or companies and they make all the decisions with regards to their tracks. This gives them the ability to adapt their programs and race structure to suit their immediate needs or those of the stakeholders who operate at their tracks. These tracks live or die on the strength of their product and  they try at all times to deliver a superior product to their customers.  As with any structure, there are issues and conflicts but in the main they do a far better job of selling and marketing harness racing to the general public than we do here in New Zealand. Over a period of time I have come to the conclusion that they have a far better management and governance structure than the Southern Hemisphere does. I have given up defending the structure of harness racing in New Zealand and have become a strong advocate for major change in how our industry is governed. How can it be in 2014 that we have a system of governance for our industry that is manifestly inappropriate for a business in the 21st century.  Currently we have a system that is controlled by the trotting clubs of New Zealand. Any major changes to the administration or structure of  ANYTHING  within the trotting industry requires the approval of a majority of those clubs. They meet once a year which means change within the industry happens at a glacial pace. The Executive of Harness Racing New Zealand can tinker at the edges but for anything major they need to take the proposal to the annual meeting of trotting clubs for their approval. Can you imagine any business in 2014 being able to survive and prosper if they were unable to adapt to changing trends and challenges in their business on a regular basis due to the necessity to wait for a once a year meeting for approval. If you speak as I do regularly do to a  lot of the successful businessmen who are involved in the harness racing industry in New Zealand, you quickly appreciate how frustrated they are at the inability to change what many see as a dysfunctional governance and management structure. Both the Auckland and New Zealand Metro trotting clubs have made massive gains in recent years in how they structure and manage their business due to the influence of several successful businessmen on their respective boards. But there is so much more they would like to do both now and in the future but are hamstrung to a certain extent by the current management and governance structure.  So what should any new management and governance structure look like.  First and foremost the clubs should concentrate on what they do best, running their clubs and their race meetings in a professional and profitable manner. That is what they were originally set up to do and most do an exemplary job. But any governance or leadership role in the management structure of harness racing in New Zealand should be withdrawn. The management of the day to day running of harness racing  should remain as it is now. Harness Racing New Zealand employees do a sterling job implementing the current policies and strategies of the industry as set by the executive and we are lucky to have them. The current executive and clubs structure should be replaced by a board that has industry representatives but also has a much stronger business focus and expertise. An eight member board with five business orientated members who have a knowledge of the harness racing industry along with one representative from each of  the three industry groups that have a large monetary investment in the industry; 1)                  Owners 2)                  Breeders 3)                  Trainers/Drivers  Should this board be elected by industry participants or be a mixture of elected /appointed members is something for wiser heads than mine. However the details of how a structure such as this would evolve need to be carefully developed so we don't harm the industry we are trying to help.   Now I can hear the screams emanating from some quarters but I also know from having already had this discussion with many of the major players in the New Zealand Industry that there is a broad consensus on the need for structural change. People involved in the harness racing industry are some of the most passionate people you would  ever come across. Why would you work in this industry with its long hours in any weather if it wasn't for a genuine love of what you were doing. We have some fantastic people in the harness racing industry in New Zealand who do a wonderful job of promoting our sport to the wider public and we have a great racing product that is in my view as good as anywhere in the world. What we don't have is a governance structure that lets this industry flourish. Just have a look at the last twenty years and see how much this industry has changed and progressed. Frozen Semen and Shuttle Stallions have opened our industry up to the very best stallions available worldwide with a result that our equine product has closed the gap enormously with the Northern Hemisphere product. Trackside has taken our racing product to a much wider audience throughout Australasia. Betting options have expanded and harness racing clubs have diversified their income streams. The only thing that has NOT changed for several generations are our governance structures. I have spoken to several government ministers about this issue and the message is always the same. Any change to the present structures must come from WITHIN the industry itself. If this industry is to truly reach its potential and maximize its returns to its stakeholders, then we need a governance structure that is more applicable to the 21st century and not the 19th century. I therefore invite any like minded people who hold a similar view to my own to contact me to see if there is a way we can progress this matter further.  John Curtin JC International jdci@harnesslink.com
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