Day At The Track

How can the small and young compete?

05:06 PM 05 Mar 2014 NZDT
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Mark Purdon
Leading trainer Mark Purdon - along with clients purchased roughly 22 yearlings at last month's Yearling Sales.

After looking back at the results from last month’s Yearling Sales, it’s not surprising to see that Mark Purdon and Robert Dunn are the country’s leading trainers.

Purdon, along with his formidable band of owners, purchased approximately 22 yearlings for costs of around $1,066,000 at the New Zealand Sales, while Dunn and clients acquired roughly 12 yearlings spending around $500,000.

Purdon and Dalgety were also active at the Australian APG Sales.

Which raises the question, how can the small compete?

Don’t get me wrong, Purdon, Dunn, and all of their brilliant owners are great for this industry and deserve and earn all the success that they get. But in a few years is it going to be Purdon, Dunn, and Dalgety racing each other?

Now that is something that wouldn’t be good for the industry at all.

Mark Jones, who is in no way, shape, or form, a “small trainer” says that if he wasn’t a ‘seller’ he would struggle to survive, which makes you think.  How does everyone else fear?

“I don’t have the numbers of Purdon or Dunn so I survive by selling, but I am worried that the majority of the people in the game won’t be able to survive as it is simply getting too tough,” said Jones.

“I’m one of the lucky ones, but it’s becoming increasingly hard for young and small trainers to compete and unless stakes go up their chances of staying in this industry are very grim which is very bad for the future of the sport.”

“I believe it is up to clubs, especially Addington, to up stakes as owners need to race for more money.”

Jones also believes that HRNZ could cut a lot of costs and direct that money into the stakes.

“And we need more races for the poorer horses, so they have a chance to earn,” he added.

“I also think we need training centres to give young enthusiast somewhere to start from as no young trainer can afford their own property,” Jones suggested.

“It’s very hard for young people to get backers, as owners are a dying breed, especially in the Auckland region.”

“The way things are going it won’t be long before the big stables are racing each other,” he concluded.

So, “How can the small compete?” – It’s something worth pondering over anyway. Perhaps it could be ‘The Big Question’ on The Box Seat? Or would that mean that they were just trying to ‘Keep Up With The Joneses’?

By Mitchell Robertson

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