Item of Correspondence
With this years’ HRNZ Annual Conference about six weeks away (slightly later this year than in the past), the discussion points and suggestions for Rule hanges are being collated prior to publication.
Your Association is involved, indirectly and directly, with two of the major issues. Firstly the interference Rule, details of which have been dealt with previously, and which is being put up by the HRNZ Board and supported by the Association.
Originally it was thought that the other item being put forward would require a Rule change, however the HRNZ legal eagles have deemed that the desired result can be achieved by a change to the Regulations, and that can be done by the Board.
However, to make sure that the proposal has the support of the Clubs, we are putting it forward in the form of an Item of Correspondence to the Annual Conference.
The proposal is that when a horse is scratched after the official driver notification time, the driving fee for that horse should be paid by the Club, as if the horse was starting.
There are two major reasons for introducing this policy, which is currently in force in Australia. The first is that, once the drivers are declared, anyone whose horse is scratched is unable to seek another drive in that race, thereby depriving him or her of a driving fee through no fault of their own. This can be particularly unfortunate when a driver has, say two or three drives and one is scratched, or has travelled to the meeting for one drive and it is late scratched.
Secondly it is obvious they are still committed to travel to that meeting for any remaining drives, yet may be unable to cover their costs, particularly if the scratched horse is one that they are most likely to feature with.
The Association understands that some Clubs put the money that is not paid to drivers when budgeted in the stakes breakdown into Trusts for various worthy purposes. However, given the scratching penalty is resulting in far fewer scratchings, the introduction of the new policy would have a minimal effect on this.
A Couple of Matters
The Association has received a request from the Rangiora Harness Racing Club for horses to be presented in correct number order in the birdcage prior to going on the track.
This would seem to be a fairly simple task, particularly when there is ample time to assemble in the parade ring adjacent to the stables, however there are still trainers who leave things until the last minute and cause problems. As the letter from the Club states, it is disappointing that the professionals cannot support the efforts of Club volunteers to have the horses presented in their correct order.
Basically the onus is on the Clerks of the Course and RUI to police this, and the Association fully supports any penalties issued to trainers who blatantly ignore their instructions for no apparent reason.
The Association has also received some advice for those trainers who wish to have SKY installed in their stable area for whatever reason, particularly following the dropping of Trackside from Freeview. Subsequent approaches by HRNZ and Trackside after a trainer had been charged the business rate of $150, Sky have agreed that, under the above circumstances, such installations will be charged only the domestic rate.
Addington Drivers Room
Ever since the lower floor of the main stand at Addington was transformed into offices, and the superb Spectators facility, it’s fair to say that drivers have not been very well catered for.
During that time, the Greater Canterbury Branch of the Trainers and Drivers Assn. has been kept in the loop by Addington officials, as they worked through the various options open to them to create a satisfactory permanent Drivers Lounge.
I am happy to report that Branch officials were recently given a tour of what the Club has come up with and, following a couple of suggestions, were more than happy with what is happening.
For those of us ancient enough to remember to old corporate boxes above Twiggers, those boxes are currently being refurbished and will become the hub of activity on race nights. The younger generation will know the area as the rooms overlooking the Lindauer Roof, which have, until recently, been the location for local radio stations until they found permanent homes after the earthquake.
The largest of the boxes, at the end nearest to the stairwell down to the stables, will serve as a lounge and changing area for drivers. The existing kitchen facilities will be transformed into a basic washing area, and an area will be curtained off for drivers to change if they wish. It was felt that the existing barbeque area at the stable entrance would suffice as a food outlet without introducing another in the lounge. There will, however, be tea and coffee making facilities. There will also be televisions showing the racing and any other sporting event that may be showing at the same time. The room offers a panoramic view of the track, and the option of sitting outside when the weather permits.
We were assured that, on Cup Day, secure access will be provided from the lounge to the stable stairway entrance.
The room next to the drivers lounge will house the RIU representatives, with the Club Secretarys’ office and Trackside presenters occupying the other two. The JCA will have their room at the back of the same floor of the building.
The whole complex will be ideal, allowing easy access for Stewards, Trackside presenters and officials, while providing drivers with a comfortable and private area to relax.
Work is currently underway on the refurbishments and it is hoped to have them at least partially functional by the beginning of July.
PETER T COOK (Courtesy of the NZ Trainers and Drivers Association)