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11:44 AM 18 Dec 2013 NZDT
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Gordon Lee - Chairman of the Otago/Southland Commitee

Perception - PR or a Plague

At this time of year, matters of administration tend to either dry up and/or be put on hold while our members get involved in what they do best, train and drive horses.

While the majority of workers in New Zealand are about to put their feet up for a week or two, because harness racing is part of the entertainment industry, the holiday period can be one of the busiest times of the year for horses and their connections.

If that sounds like an excuse for not being able to come up with anything in particular to put on this site this week, you're right - it is!

So, what I will do is reprint an e-mail sent to various industry figures earlier this week by our Otago/Southland Chairman, Gordon Lee. I've taken the liberty to edit/censor it a little, but the following is the general idea:

Consider the word perception,a word we consistently hear from HRNZ and the RIU. If we continue to keep making decisions for this Industry based on that stupid word, our Industry is in for huge failure. For those people who wish to listen,let me give you a lesson in grammar. The dictionary meaning of perception: "a process by which one detects or interprets information from a means relating to the senses or power of sensation". There is absolutely no mention of the word meaning factual,yet we allow so called intelligent people in this Industry to continually use it to justify their decisions which far too often is then interpreted as fact. These people need to take a step back and open their eyes to the fact they are dealing with human lives where their actions can so easily ruin individuals and families forever,when they are quite clearly innocent of any wrong doing.

Don't know what I'm talking about ?? Well try that one on someone else. I'm living proof and I do know. So, by what means do we approach these issues that will give people a better understanding of our Rules? Obviously the RIU believes perception is extremely important because the they have not changed their position or approach,they have recently announced dumb statements about some race-day treatments etc. that are quite farcical, and further theyfailed to involve the NZT&DA in any consultation. The whole announcement gives the perception these treatments, some of which are simply icepacks, are a means of cheating. Why not tell the public the truth - they have NO effect on the performance of a horse. Simple. So let's get rid of all this theoretical rubbish and assumptions about corruption going on in the Industry, if Board members, RIU and the like keep running around saying and agreeing with 'dickheads' that the drug culture is rife in the Industry, we might as well all throw our licenses in now. These people need to grow up and show a bit of honesty, maturity and common sense. Try working with the license-holders instead of accusing them generally of being cheats. I have not ever heard one public statement where the license-holders have been given high accolades of honesty - why? Because, they don't believe it.

Gordon Lee/Peter Cook

RIU Notice

You will no doubt by now have seen the notice issued by the Racing Integrity Unit, entitled "Race day treatment of Racehorses Notice".

The Trainers and Drivers Association is disappointed with both the content of this document, and also the way that it has been presented.

First of all, there has been no consultation with the Association on the matters contained in the notice prior to its' publication. The RIU has, a number of times, been critical of articles written and comments made by representatives of the Association, and we have been asked to discuss any matters of concern or interest prior to going public. Sadly this policy appears only to apply to one party in this arrangement.

It is understood that the details of the notice have been worked out between the RIU and the Equine Veterinary Association, who have been described as "the professionals in the Industry who are the obvious group to consult". It seems the professionals who are most affected by these guidelines, i.e. trainers, are not considered to be quite so obvious, despite the stated RIU policy of "preventative action though providing information to participants".

The Association has been regularly told that the RIU merely exists to administer the HRNZ Rules, and do not make them, yet many of the items included in the notice do not appear to be covered under the Rules of Harness Racing. Rules 1004 (5) & (6) cover the possession of a prohibited substance and the race-day use of any substance by injection, nasal gastric tube, ventilator or nebulizer. The Association is fully supportive of these Rules, however we struggle to see where these or any other Rules cover the use of the likes of magnetic or ice boots. Such products are considered beneficial to the horses' welfare and are not performance enhancing.

Also, the paragraph entitled ‘Topical Applications' is considered vague at best. For instance, does a treatment for greasy heel such as EMU oil, which contains no medicaments, fall into this category or not?

Perhaps some constructive consultation with the Trainers & Drivers Association may have assisted in making this notice a useful tool to "assist trainers and veterinary surgeons in interpreting some of the ‘grey areas' associated with the definition of a race day treatment," instead of a document which creates more questions than answers, and will probably result in yet more costly and damaging legal arguments.

Peter T Cook

To View more information on the Trainers and Drivers Assocation website click here.

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