Day At The Track

Support and disagreement over handicapping

08:32 AM 10 Feb 2017 NZDT
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About 40 horsemen and women attended a ‘handicapping meeting’ at Franklin Park in Pukekohe last night (Tuesday), but it wasn’t until the Auckland Trotting Club president Bruce Carter spoke, that the meeting came alive.

Carter not only announced stake increases at Alexandra Park in 2018-2019, but also said trials and workouts would almost be a thing of the past at ‘northern headquarters’ while development proceeded over the next few years.

Carter said an extra $40,000 would be distributed at each ATC meeting thanks to all 246 apartments being sold.

"We have spoken about the handicapping system all night and we know it won't please everyone, but it comes down to horse numbers.

"If owners aren't getting what they deserve they will take their business elsewhere. We have to give them the best possible product on offer and we believe stake increases will help do that," Carter said.

He also said the on-going developments meant very few trials and workouts would be held at Alexandra Park in the next few years.

"Franklin Park is now our training facility and we might have the odd trial/workout at Alexandra Park before perhaps a premier meeting.

"But Franklin has proved popular and is still growing. We will continue to support that facility as well," Carter said.

He also said there would be three further meetings per season at Alexandra Park starting from August 1.

That led Taupaki horseman, Frank Cooney to ask the meeting if other clubs would suffer as a result of more metro meetings.

Chairman of HRNZ's Handicapping Sub Committee Rob Lawson said meetings would become more centralised, which led Cooney to ask if in fact there was any future for grass track meetings.

“Are we going to see just three tracks – Alexandra Park, Cambridge, and Manawatu being used in the North island and the rest laying idle?” questioned Cooney.

Lawson replied:

“I think that is the way we are headed with perhaps the odd grass track meeting say like Tauranga being a novelty meeting. It’s not written in stone but the costs are high to use other tracks. I think centralisation is the way of the future,” Lawson said.

ATC Board member, John Green and recently appointed North Island Handicapper, Kevin Smith also fronted the meeting.

Smith said the purpose of last night’s meeting was to further educate, consult and cover handicapping issues in the North Island.

“The North Island handicapping system is evolving all the time since it was introduced on August 1. The South Island will embark on its new handicapping system on March 13.

“We just want to make it fair and we realise you will never please everyone. The whole purpose of the new system is to be fair and have horses with similar abilities racing against each other.

“We haven’t got the horse numbers we used to have. There are breeding and export concerns. I see it as my role to be fair. That’s all I want fairness for every horse owner but in this world we all know we can’t please everyone,” said Smith.

“I am always open for consultation at any time,” he added.

There was both support and disagreement from the horsemen and women who asked questions to the trio at the head table for almost 90 minutes.

Duane Ranger

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