Harness racing “heroes” need to be given more incentive to ply their trade says New Zealand’s only Independent Member of Parliament, Brendan Horan.
The 52-year-old, who has a racing background, wants to contract the top 10 drivers from each Island and pay them a base fee of $100,000 each.
He said this was just one of his many ideas to assist racing.
“The racing folk I know are some of the hardest working people in the country and deserve a strong voice in Parliament. The industry should be an exciting, energetic and vibrant one, but sadly it has steadily declined. However, we can turn it around,” Horan said.
“Racing needs heroes. It actually already has them, but it's just a question of their presentation, “he added.
His concept of the top 20 drivers receiving $2 million collectively would see them compete throughout the country with four 10-horse fields part of each race meeting.
He said each race would have an attractive stake and drivers would be drawn similar to that staged at the World Driving Championship.
“Pre-race tactics would be discussed and personalities and opinions formed. People could bet on the drivers as well, and at the end of the year the winning driver would win $500,000, $$300,000 for second, and $200,000 for third.
“Drivers would be marketed and become sought after figures. With the proper marketing the betting turnover would pay for it,” said Horan.
He said at the end of the season the bottom-placed driver from each Island would be relegated from the Top 20, giving the rest of the pack the chance to fight their way into the Series.
“There are many other things that we could can do as well. The industry needs to evolve. The Government needs to move with the times, value and retain people in the industry, and attract those from outside.
“Too many people are leaving the game. The time for change has arrived. If we don’t seek change there will be no viable racing industry one day,” Mt Maunganui-based Horan said.
“It's just a question of vision and leadership, and inseparables,” he added.
He said his newly formed party – the New Zealand Independent Coalition New Zealand was currently in the process of gaining approval by the Electoral Commission. Its logo was designed by Eddie Booth just this month.
“The colours reflect our country from land to sea, the fern depicts New Zealanders no matter your colour and Creed and the Koru represents hope, nurture, vision and growth,” he said.
Horan formed the New Zealand Independent Coalition after he was expelled from the New Zealand First caucus for false allegations that he stole money from his late mother.
His name has been since cleared.
He was elected to parliament as a list MP at the last election (2011).
Horan, a former weatherman for TV One (2005-2007), could often be seen at harness racing meetings as both a compere and singer of our national anthem.
When Trackside first started he had his own ‘Action Sports’ slot, and his father Jack Ormsby was a galloping trainer and renowned whisperer.
“I have many friends in the racing industry and I often listen to their concerns. The industry is important to me. It is close to my heart and I believe our party can lift it out of the doldrums,” Horan said.
He believed Parliament had become a place where parties come first instead of people.
“MP s should serve their electorates first and that's what our party’s MPs will do. I believe we can get 18 seats in Parliament at this year’s general election,” said Horan.
"Most Kiwis I've spoken to are sick and tired of voting only to find that the people or the party they voted for turn around and do something entirely different to what was promised," he added.
By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)