Chairman Ken Barron presided over a recent meeting of the Greater Canterbury Branch, with HRNZs’ Pete Ydgren along to discuss a number of issues.
Pete raised the ‘old chestnut’ of the quality of communication between some trainers and their owners. Apparently the HRNZ Board has been made aware of some complaints in this area, however the Association has always felt that, as in any line of business, if an owner is unhappy with the service his trainer offers, he should look elsewhere. On closer inspection it appears that the majority of problems concern owners receiving bills for veterinarian services for which they either had no knowledge of, or had not expected to be as high as they were. The meeting suggested that owners should obtain quotes for veterinarian services directly, and not involve the trainer in the process.
Ideas such as websites, text messages or e-mails were discussed, however the consensus was that most owners preferred to speak to trainers on the phone or in person. A suggestion that workshops be held to instruct trainers was felt to be a waste of time and money, so Pete is to compile a document suggesting methods of successful communications to owners.
Another matter discussed with Pete was the introduction of the proposed points system for field selection. Apparently the implementation of this system would take one person in the HRNZ IT department ten weeks, so the Handicapping Sub-Committee, which met earlier that day, had agreed that a money-won system would be a more realistic, and possibly more efficient, option.
Other issues covered with Pete Ydgren included the new HRNZ Business Plan which, unlike its’ predecessors contained time frame limits, and therefore consequences if the deadlines were not met. Items of interest included the introduction of Racing Bureaux, and an investigation into the restructuring of the HRNZ Board. Note this is only an investigation, and there is no guarantee that any changes will occur as a result. One possible scenario was the establishment of a Stakeholders Council which would forward suggestions and proposals to a Board of Management.
Centralisation was discussed, with Pete advising that very few tracks were owned by the Clubs themselves, so that little advantage would be gained by closures. In addition, history suggests that any such closures would lead to a drop off of interest in that particular area, both from volunteers and punters.
Anthony Butt expressed disappointment that the Ashburton Club meeting was scheduled for the day after the jewels, presenting travel issues for drivers attending both meetings.
John Lischner summarised a number of issues and proposals being considered by the HRNZ Board. These included harness programmes being restricted to a maximum of 11 races instead of the current 12, the extension of the rating for open class trotters from C7 to C8, and the likely abolition of Invited Drivers series, which were proving costly and difficult to arrange. John advised that HRNZ Veterinary Consultant Andrew Grierson would be attending the Associations’ National Council on 2 May to discuss current drug related issues.
Part 2 next week.
By Peter T Cook (Courtesy of the NZ Harness Trainers & Drivers Association)