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On 25 June 2015, Harness Racing New South Wales (HRNSW) concluded an inquiry into an investigation that commenced on 14 April 2015 in relation to Mr Hewitt associating with a disqualified person, Mr Shannon Wonson. Mr Hewitt was issued with a charge pursuant to Australian Harness Racing Rule 230 in that he did associate with a disqualified person Mr Shannon Wonson for a purpose related to harness racing. That purpose related to Mr Shannon Wonson engaging him as the driver for the registered standardbred The Champ Is Here which was entered to race at the Bathurst harness meeting on 10 April 2015. Mr Hewitt made an admission in relation to that charge. Consequently, Mr Hewitt’s training and driving licences were suspended for a period of one (1) month to commence from midnight on 30 June 2015. In addition, Mr Hewitt was fined $5,000 with that amount wholly suspended for a period of 12 months. In determining penalty, Stewards considered submissions made by Mr Hewitt, the circumstances in which the association occurred, the early admission of the charge by Mr Hewitt and his offence history. Reid Sanders

The cobalt saga started in harness racing at The Meadowlands and has now spread around the racing world like a virus. We've all read about cobalt. Racing's new EPO. The stuff that supposedly makes horses run like Lear Jets.  But until this week it's all been about yet another Australian trainer being caught with a high reading. That changed on Tuesday, however, when the Racing Integrity Unit dropped the bombshell that the leading Matamata stable of Lance O'Sullivan and Andrew Scott had returned a cobalt positive with its horse Quintastics, after she won a race in March. And then on Friday, after further testing in Perth, the RIU confirmed a trawl through frozen samples from the stable had uncovered two more positives, from NZ Derby place-getter Sound Proposition and Suffire, who won at Tauranga in February. Suddenly, people in the industry are asking questions about what it means, are they at risk and exactly how high the cobalt levels are. While RIU general manager Mike Godber would not reveal the exact amount of cobalt found in the three horses, he said it "significantly" breached the internationally recognised limit of 200 adopted earlier this season. There is no suggestion the levels are anywhere near as high as the 6000 recorded in one of 21 positives returned by horses trained by Newcastle trainer Darren Smith who was disqualified for 15 years. Fairfax investigations have revealed it would take an intravenous injection of cobalt chloride to elevate levels into the thousands, a sure sign of cheating. But levels in the hundreds, believed to be the case with the O'Sullivan/Scott trio, almost certainly indicates the administration of a supplement, a practice commonplace in New Zealand. Fortified horse feeds contain only minute amounts of cobalt, nowhere near enough to elevate levels above the threshold. Industry regulators both here and in Australia adopted the trigger point of 200 micrograms of cobalt per litre of urine after extensive testing of some 2500 samples from horses in New Zealand, Queensland, Victoria, West Australia and South Australia. The New Zealand sample of 400 horses, some from race-day swabs and some from random horses at stud chosen because they had never had any medication, put the mean level of cobalt very low at 6.4. This was markedly lower than the Australian samples which found cobalt levels of between 10 and 20 – explained by the fact many racing areas in New Zealand are volcanic and the soil is deficient in cobalt. In another collaborative effort, 11 overseas countries contributed 10,300 post-race urine samples and the highest recorded cobalt reading was 78 mcg/l. The average was 5.29 mcg/l. These results included many horses on normal cobalt supplementation programmes. Given those results,  it's not surprising many in the industry here have criticised our 200 level as too generous. They say unscrupulous trainers have too much leeway to dose their horses and remain undetected. But Fairfax understands  it is highly likely that a new, lower limit of 100, already in place in Hong Kong, will be struck at the next meeting of international regulators in Paris in October. As yet the UK and European racing jurisdictions have not set a cobalt threshold. In the Australian cases pending against Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Mark Kavanagh, Cox Plate-winning trainer Danny O'Brien, and Lee and Shannon Hope, all levels detected are in the hundreds. Racing Victoria revealed the cobalt levels detected as: Danny O'Brien's Bondeiger (370mcg/l), Caravan Rolls On (380), De Little Engine (580) and Bullpit (320); Mark Kavanagh's Magicool (640); Lee and Shannon Hope's Windy Citi Bear (300), Best Suggestion (550) and Choose (440). Studies done by the Hong Kong Jockey Club have demonstrated how such levels can easily be reached through supplementation. In its study, horses which were injected with Hemo-15, an iron, amino acid and B vitamin supplement readily available here, reached a maximum cobalt level in the urine of 530 mcg/l within two hours of administration. The cobalt level decreased rapidly and was below 200 in six to 12 hours. That begs the question how the levels detected recently could be so high given it is illegal to treat horses in any way on race-day and there is no legitimate reason for administering the supplement so close to a race.    Concern that vitamin B12 medication, popular with trainers here, might result in a cobalt positive was flagged by the New Zealand Equine branch of the Veterinary Association when it gazetted a warning in February. Vitamin B12 contains five per cent cobalt and, if given repeatedly, can result in a cobalt level in the hundreds. All vets were advised that they should not use any medication that contained vitamin B12 either orally or by injection for one clear day before a horse raced. Barry Lichter Reprinted with permission  

The Ohio State Racing Commission (OSRC) invited the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association (OHHA) to help create an informational forum that will educate Ohio harness racing drivers on a new "Use of the Whip" rule (3769-17-17) at their monthly meeting, June 23, 77 S. High St., Columbus, Ohio. "We asked the OHHA at our meeting this morning to participate with the OSRC in educating harness drivers on the new rule which goes into the effect July 19 and they enthusiastically agreed," said OSRC Chairman Robert K. Schmitz. "I don't believe this will be a revolutionary change for most drivers except they will now have to keep the lines in both hands for the entire mile." Steve Bateson, OHHA Vice President and Renee Mancino, OHHA Executive Director both agreed to help participate in the education of Ohio harness drivers on the "Use of the Whip" rule, which had passed through the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) on June 22. The OSRC will file the rule on July 9, and it will become effective ten days later on July 19. "The Ohio Fair Conference has 20 fairs (in their circuit) and drivers need to know how each judge is going to interpret these rules," Bateson said. "If I were a professional driver I would ask for clarification so there would be no misunderstanding of these rules." The "Use of Whip" rule outlines where on a horse's body a whip may be used and specifies types of whips and the amount of force a driver can deliver when utilizing a whip in a race. Rule 3769-17-17, "Use of the Whip," is found in whole, below: (A) All drivers must keep a line in each hand beginning when the horse is behind the starting gate and continuing through the finish of the race. (B) Whipping shall be restricted to elbow and wrist action only and the whipping arm shall not be raised above the driver's shoulder height. (C) Drivers shall not move their whipping arm in an exaggerated manner and the lines shall remain reasonably taut during the race. (D) Drivers shall not use the whip below the level of the shaft, forward of the race bike's wheels. (E) Drivers shall not place the whip between the horse's legs. (F) Drivers shall not strike another horse or driver with the whip. (G) Drivers shall not use the handle of a whip on a horse. (H) Drivers are permitted to use their hand or the whip in a sliding or gliding manner above the level of the shaft. (I) Drivers shall not use the whip on a tired horse, on a horse that is not visibly responding, or when a horse is not in contention in a race. (J) Drivers shall not use the whip without giving the horse time to respond to a previous application of the whip. (K) Whips shall be no longer than 48 inches with the cracker no longer than 6 inches in length. Only a conventional cracker shall be permitted. No leather or unusual materials may be used. The conventional cracker shall not be knotted and tape is only permitted on the handle of the whip. All other modifications of the whip are prohibited. (L) Excessive, indiscriminate, visibly injurious, or abusive use of the whip is prohibited. (M) In addition to the penalties provided in Rule 3769-17-99, the violation of any of the provisions in this rule may result in loss of placement or disqualification. Kimberly A. Rinker Ohio Standardbred Development Fund

The Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) has commenced an investigation following a positive test result for Cobalt. Cobalt is a prohibited substance in horse racing at a level of over 200 micrograms per litre in urine. The horse “Quintastics” tested positive after winning on 11 March at Tauranga. “Quintastics” is trained by Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott at Matamata.  Initial testing is carried out at a Wellington laboratory and any positive results are sent to Perth, Western Australia for confirmation. As part of its investigation the RIU has advised O’Sullivan and Scott that there are concerns for two other urine samples that have been sent to Perth. The horses involved are – “Suffire” on 5 February at Tauranga and “Sound Proposition” on 28 February at Ellerslie (3rd NZ Derby) The New Zealand racing industry has been testing for cobalt since mid-2014 and has tested samples as far back as February 2014. Investigations are on-going. As this matter is subject to an investigation no further comment will be provided from the RIU at this time. Racing Integrity Unit

On Tuesday 16 June 2015, Harness Racing New South Wales (HRNSW), acting under the provisions of Rule 183, suspended the Trainer and Driver licences of Mr John Glover, effective immediately, after receiving advice from the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory (ARFL) that Total Carbon Dioxide (TCO2) above the prescribed threshold was detected in a post-race blood sample taken from TAYSPASTIME following its win in race 1, THE NEWCASTLE CITY HOLDEN PACE (2030 metres) conducted at Newcastle on Friday 12 June 2015. The “B” sample has been confirmed by Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) in Victoria. Mr Glover was given an opportunity to be heard on the imposition of Rule 183 and he provided submissions that were considered by HRNSW Stewards, together with other evidence that had been obtained. Acting under the provisions of Rule 183A, it has been determined that TAYSPASTIME, the horse subject of the certificates, shall not be nominated or compete in any race until the outcome of an inquiry or investigation. This also has immediate effect. An inquiry has been scheduled for 2pm on Wednesday 24 June 2015. Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) is the controlling body for harness racing in New South Wales with responsibility for commercial and regulatory management of the industry including 31 racing clubs across the State.  HRNSW is headed by an industry-appointed Board of Directors and is independent of Government. Reid Sanders Chief Operations Officer  

Stewards today concluded an inquiry pertaining to six registered standardbreds owned by Darcel Lindau-Johnson and Alan Johnson. After considering all the evidence available, Stewards charged Mrs Lindau-Johnson and Mr Johnson pursuant to AHR Rule 218 which reads: “A person having responsibility for the welfare of a horse shall not fail to care for it properly”. The specifics of the charge being that Mrs Darcel Lindau-Johnson and Mr Alan Johnson, as the registered owners of six registered standardbred horses present on a property, and therefore responsible for their welfare, failed to care for those horses properly. A further charge was issued against Mrs Lindau-Johnson and Mr Johnson under AHR Rule 187(1) which reads: “A person who is directed to do so by the Stewards shall attend an inquiry or investigation convened or conducted by them.” The specifics of the charge being that Mrs Darcel Lindau-Johnson and Mr Alan Johnson, failed to comply with a direction from Stewards to attend an inquiry at Deagon on 24 March, 2015. Mrs Lindau-Johnson and Mr Johnson pleaded not guilty to all charges however Stewards were of the view that the charges could be sustained as issued and therefore found them guilty. When considering the matter of penalty, Stewards were mindful of significant mitigating factors. In all the circumstances Stewards determined that a fine of $200 each be applied for the breach of Rule 187(1), and that no further action would be taken for the breach of Rule 218 conditional to the horses being removed from the relevant property by Friday, 19 June 2015. Stewards further advised that upon satisfying this condition, the embargo placed on all horses owned by Mrs Lindau-Johnson and Mr Johnson under Rule 183(c) would be lifted. Panel: D Farquharson, K Wolsey, D Aurisch - Racing Queensland

On Friday 29 May 2015 Harness Racing New South Wales (HRNSW) concluded an inquiry that commenced on 17 April 2015 in relation to licensed trainer, Mr Roy Roots (Snr) obtaining payments from the owner of the standardbred Jeremes Mate for veterinary procedures that never occurred. Evidence was initially taken from Mr Roots (Snr) and the owner of Jeremes Mate at the commencement of the inquiry and further evidence was obtained on Friday 29 May 2015. During the course of the Inquiry, Mr Roots (Snr) made admissions regarding the acceptance of funds around September/October 2013 on the pretence that the horse Jeremes Mate required veterinary procedures that did not occur. Mr. Roots (Snr) pleaded not guilty to a charge under Rule 241 in that he around September/October 2013 and in August 2014, in connection with the harness racing industry, did act in a fraudulent manner by obtaining payments totalling $5,800 by deception. Mr Roots (Snr) was found guilty and disqualified for a period of 15 months to commence from midnight on Friday 29 May 2015. In determining penalty, Stewards took all circumstances of this matter into consideration and were mindful of Mr Roots’ (Snr) licence history, personal subjective facts including personal and financial hardships, the impact on those employed by Mr Roots (Snr) and the serious nature of the offence. Reid Sanders - Harness Racing New South Wales

On Tuesday 19 May 2015 Harness Racing NSW suspended the licence of trainer, Mr Joshua Carroll, pursuant to Australian Harness Racing Rule 183. HRNSW has taken these measures after receiving a report from the Australian Government National Measurement Institute that Cobalt above the threshold was detected in a post race urine sample taken from Tiny Tinker following its win in race 4, the TROTS TV LADYSHIP PACE (2030 metres) conducted at Newcastle on 19 March 2015. The “B” sample and associated control has been analysed by the ChemCentre in Western Australia who have confirmed the level of Cobalt above the prescribed threshold. Prior to suspending the licence of Mr Carroll, he was afforded the opportunity to make submissions which he did not exercise. Mr Carroll has been directed to attend an Inquiry on Monday 15 June 2015. It must be noted that at this stage Mr Carroll has not be charged or convicted of any offence relating to this matter. Reid Sanders - Harness Racing New South Wales

THE trouble with shooting up the town is that innocent people get caught in the crossfire. The Labor Government’s decision to machine gun the entire racing industry this week certainly achieved the essential objective of wiping out the Queensland greyhound board after the live-baiting scandal. It had to happen. The dogs needed a steel bristled broom through their entire operation. But the carnage stretched much further than that, too far for the good of racing in this state. The sacking of the harness racing and galloping boards as well has created widespread uncertainty and, in some areas, total bewilderment. Take the trots as an example. Like the gallops they had nothing to do with the live-baiting scandal yet they will pay a high price for it. The cost of implementing new all-code integrity measures such as hiring four policemen, keeping extra data and a full-time integrity commissioner will be hefty and the three racing codes are set to stump up most, if not all of the cost. Prizemoney could even go backwards as a consequence. Racing Queensland harness chairman Greg Mitchell was told via a phone call from Racing Minister’s chief of staff that he and his board had been sacked. Mitchell told the chief of staff he would prefer to hear it directly from Racing Minister Bill Byrne but the request was rejected. Byrne’s profile during his time in charge has been compared to the Loch Ness monster: often talked about, rarely seen. Like a lot of harness and galloping board members, Mitchell is feeling like the farmer who saw his homestead burn down because his neighbour forgot to put out his camp fire. “It’s very disappointing that we are caught up in this given it had nothing to do with our sport,’’ Mitchell said. “We were just starting to gain momentum. The numbers indicated we were on the rise. Race turnover is the best it has been for seven to 10 years. “I have grave reservations about what will happen now that our industry will have just one man on the new seven-man board. The board will become very fractious and political.’’ If the trots think they are hard done-by, that is nothing compared to the gallops who will have just one person on the proposed new seven-man board despite generating more than 75 per cent of the annual betting turnover. Four positions on the new seven-man board will go to specialists in “fields of accounting, law, business, commercial and marketing development’’. That’s all well and good, but will they know anything about racing? They will, after all, be the powerbrokers of the three codes in this state. It is a tough, turbulent road ahead and what makes it even tougher is that in less than three years we will probably starting all over again because it will be election time in Queensland. Such is the one-term way of the world these days that Labor will probably lose power and out will go the men they install. The racing industry, because it needs so much government funding, is hopelessly at the mercy of the state government. Racing may be the sport of kings but it is kept alive by thousands of battlers who are famed for their resilience. That is just as well. Given what is happening in the corridors of power above them, they have to be. By Robert Craddock Reprinted with permission of the Courier-Mail 

New South Wale's racing codes are lining up to oppose any move to implement an independent regulatory authority in the state after an inquiry into the embattled Queensland greyhound racing industry recommended a similar model. Thoroughbred racing and harness racing officials are understood to be reluctant to consider such a template after the Queensland greyhound racing inquiry's commissioner Alan MacSporran, QC, was scathing in his criticism of Racing Queensland in the wake of the live baiting scandal. He has lobbied for an independent integrity model to be adopted north of the border. Fairfax Media understands the state government-triggered review into the NSW greyhound racing industry has discussed a similar framework to merge the integrity operations of all three jurisdictions under one umbrella. It potentially shapes as a back-to-the-future scenario in NSW after the harness racing and greyhound racing stewards worked under a failed government-controlled framework until its demerger in 2009. And thoroughbred racing and harness racing powerbrokers have just recently tabled strategic plans into their respective sports, with Harness Racing NSW only lodging their blueprint on Monday. Racing NSW published theirs late last year. They are believed to prefer the current system where NSW's thoroughbred, harness racing and greyhound racing control bodies are individually responsible for their own commercial and integrity units. Click on this link to read the full article written by Adam Pengilly on theage.com site 

The Queensland Government will abolish all racing boards including the harness racing board as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk aims for a "clean slate" following the animal cruelty scandal in the greyhound industry.   The chief executive of Racing Queensland, Darren Condon, will also be asked to "show cause" as to why he deserves to remain in his job, given what occurred under his watch.   The inquiry, headed by Alan MacSporran, found widespread systemic failure across Racing Queensland to act on the "barbaric and repellent practices of live baiting", which Ms Palaszczuk said had "turned our stomachs and sent shivers down our spines".   Mr MacSporran found that between 2003 and 2013, more than 24,200 greyhound puppies were born but only 16,968 were registered with Racing Queensland, meaning more than 30 per cent or 7200 pups were unaccounted for.   The number of retired greyhounds over the same period should have been 8500, but only 1462 were officially registered as having retired, with the inquiry finding the average percentage of greyhounds that died after retirement was 76 per cent.   In 2013, 74.4 per cent of retired greyhounds were euthanised, with many more deaths unexplained.   The inquiry also found that Racing Queensland operated "in an environment in which it could not adequately assess and deal with the risks to integrity and animal welfare" and the industry "dismally failed those animals it relies on for considerable profit".   Ms Palaszczuk has ordered Racing Minister Bill Byrne to ask Mr Condon to show cause why he should remain in the role.   He has been stood down on full pay "as legally required" pending the outcome of the show cause process.   An interim administrator will step in in the mean time.   But all boards associated with the racing industry, which includes the AllCodes Racing Industry Board, the Queensland Greyhound Racing Board, the Queensland Harness Racing Board and the Queensland Thoroughbred Racing Board, will be abolished.   "Today we are starting with a clean slate," Ms Palaszczuk said.   KPMG has been appointed to advise on the implementation of the interim arrangements.   A Racing Integrity Commission will be established to oversee the entire racing industry in Queensland.   Changes will also be made to breeding programs and licensing arrangements.   Ms Palaszczuk thanked Animal Liberation Queensland, Animals Australia and Four Corners for their work in exposing the practices and the joint Queensland Police-RSPCA investigation into the practices following the program shown on Four Corners.   "Anyone who has taken part in acts of animal cruelty will be investigated thoroughly by police and will be brought to justice," Ms Palaszczuk said.   The government is considering the rest of Mr MacSporran's recommendations, including developing a program to monitor greyhounds throughout their career and retirement.    Amy Remeikis   Reprinted with permission of the Brisbane Times - Check site

Upstate New York congressman Paul Tonko plans to introduce a federal bill establishing uniform drug and medication standards in thoroughbred racing that would be overseen by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and begin in 2017. This announcement was made on Friday in Washington, DC.   The racing industry has been regulated on a state-by-state basis with a patchwork of rules and penalties, and he said it's time to set a level playing field at racetracks nationwide. The legislation would allow USADA to create a drug agency specifically for racing. USADA, an independent agency, is the national anti-doping organization in the U.S. for the Olympics.   Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural voiced his support for the bill, "I was extremely pleased to read about Congressman Tonko's plans to introduce legislation that will lead to much needed medication reform in horse racing and about the coalition that has been formed to move that initiative forward. As someone who has gone to great lengths to get performance-enhancing drugs out of the sport, including the implementation of "house rules," I fully support these efforts and I hope the standardbred industry will follow the Thoroughbred racing initiative."   This initiative also has the support of the Water Hay & Oats Alliance (WHOA) .   The complete Daily Gazette article may be read here.   (With files from the Schenectady Daily Gazette)   From Meadowlands Media Relations:

Four men charged over gaming fraud to the tune of $30 million after a Serious Fraud Office investigation have been remanded for two months. Former chair of Harness Racing New Zealand Patrick O'Brien, his son Mike O'Brien and hospitality consultant Paul Max face 32 charge of obtaining benefits by deception. A fourth man, whose name was suppressed, pleaded not guilty and asked for a judge alone trial on two charges of obtaining by deception. Defence lawyer Bruce Squire QC for Michael O'Brien asked for the remand without plea and without electing trial.  He said there were several matters that still needed to be sorted out, including the defence being given all briefs of evidence. The Serious Fraud Office laid charges after an investigation involving police and the Internal Affairs Department into gaming grants made by the New Zealand Community Trust, Infinity and Bluegrass Trusts since 2006. About 20 venues including five pubs in Blenheim, five properties in Wellington, two in Hawke's Bay and one in Masterton were investigated. Wellington District Court judge Arthur Tompkins remanded them all on bail until July. Stuff.co.nz  

State Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, D-Round Lake, announced the Assembly on Thursday passed legislation she introduced to make it possible for Saratoga Harness Racing to continue receiving payments from Capital Region Off-Track Betting. A corporate organization restructuring of Saratoga Harness Racing would have made it ineligible to receive funding, under state law. The legislation that passed the Assembly would add Saratoga Harness Racing to an exception that was previously established for Tioga Downs. "Harness racing is a vital component for our region's economy," Woerner said in a press release. "It helps create jobs in the agriculture, leisure and hospitality industries." The legislation, which previously passed the state Senate, now goes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for consideration. Reprinted with permission of poststar.com    

The terminal decline of harness racing in New Zealand continues unabated and the future of this industry is looking shakier by the day. The recent announcement by the New Zealand Racing Board that Harness Racing New Zealand has given up another 59 races for next season is yet another nail in the coffin of the industry in New Zealand. The rationale given by Harness Racing New Zealand is that with less races they hope to improve overall field size and improve the quality of the racing. That is about as realistic as me wanting to sleep with Demi Moore. It ain't going to happen. Both the Thoroughbred and Greyhound national bodies have maintained the same number of races as last year and logic would suggest that they will continue to take market share off harness racing as a result. Harness Racing has lost 4% of its races in just two years and that is before the big reductions in foal numbers start to kick in which will really affect the number of races we can conduct each season. So what is our governing body proposing to do to arrest the slide and turn the industry around. Apart from a bit of tinkering around the edges, in my view they are sitting on their hands while this industry goes down the gurgler. The question I would pose is how is the industry travelling in New Zealand at the grass roots level. I talk to scores of industry people each week throughout New Zealand and the feedback is overwhelmingly negative. There are a great many trainers who are looking to cross the Tasman or get out of the industry completely. These include some household names in the industry in New Zealand which leads me to conclude that we are reaching a tipping point in the industry in this country. Auckland is by far the worst area but is not alone in the disillusionment engulfing this industry throughout the country. If the current trends continue and then accelerate when the lower foal numbers kick in shortly, then I don't think harness racing in New Zealand in its present form will exist in ten years time. We need to act now and turn this industry around or prepare ourselves for its demise I know I have been beating this drum for a while but I thought that Harness Racing New Zealand would take up the challenge and they would turn things around. However they have done next to zero and this industry is now living on borrowed time. Several times over the last twelve months I have put forward proposals to change the way we do things in the harness racing industry in New Zealand to help it survive. I don't want to go back over these in detail but I will touch briefly on them here so we are all on the same page.   There are a multitude of structures that need urgent change but I will focus here on the four that I think are critical to any chance of saving this industry. 1) Management Structures The management structure of harness racing in New Zealand is more akin to that of a 1960s sports club than that of an industry that turns over hundreds of millions of dollars a year. The clubs in New Zealand were set up to run race meetings and they do an outstanding job of performing their primary function. No one can tell me that clubs that meet once a year were ever envisaged to be running the multi faceted and complex business that harness racing in 2015 has become. We need a small  business savvy board with representatives elected by the rank and file participants in the industry in conjunction with some appointed members who are there for their business acumen. 2) Breeding Incentives The breeding side of harness racing is in a death spiral at the moment and unless we do something urgently then the breeding numbers will continue to fall. We have just lost 59 races for the coming year due to lack of runners per race and with the significantly smaller crops now starting to come on stream, that reduction in races per year will accelerate in the coming years. There are several models in use worldwide where other countries heavily support their breeders and we need to follow suit and soon. There is no time to argue about the merits of each of the systems, just adopt one and use it before it is too late. 3) Handicapping system The present system for the majority of horses is not working. The system has been tinkered with for many years and it still has major flaws. A lot of trainers I speak to think the handicapping system is worst now than it has ever been. We have had some minor improvements over the last few years but at this rate we will get it fully sorted about 2050 Why have we not tried something like a points system as Richard Brosnan has been promoting for some time? It is simple, easy to follow and would extend the life of a lot of our poorer performed horses. The Australian market for our cheaper horses has virtually disappeared overnight with the tax imposed on our horses by the Australians.  Harness Racing New Zealand is trying to solve the problem by making better usage of the horses that are presently racing. A recent HRNZ quote is " We have started less horses more times".   If you take that solution to its logicial conclusion we are going to have less and less horses racing more often over time. It is the exact opposite to what they should be trying to do. The ideal would be to have more horses racing if the system was working, not less. Less horses means less owners, less trainers, less drivers and so on and so on. At some point we will be down to  just Alexandra Park and Addington if we don't change our present course. 4) New Zealand Racing Board If you want to know where the money is going in the three codes in New Zealand then look no further than the New Zealand Racing Board. The pigs have got there noses that deep in the trough that it is no wonder that the three codes are struggling to survive. I could pinpoint several examples but I think it is just as easy to set out below some of the costs associated with the New Zealand Racing Board. Operational costs of the New Zealand Racing Board - August 2014 - just after the last HRNZ annual conference. - NZRB's running costs have increased by $24.4 million in four years, a rise of 6.2%. - For the same period turnover increased by just 1.5% and income 2.3%. - Since August 2012, staff costs had risen by $2 million or 4%, an April KPMG audit report said. - The NZRB's annual report of 2013 listed staff expenses of $54.98 million. - In the NZRB's more recent half-yearly report its staff expenses for the six months ending January 31,2014, amounted to $30.71 million, up $2.5 million on 2013. - Its total expenses for the same six months were $64 million, up $3.1 million. - The 2013 annual report listed 72 staff that was paid more than $100,000. - Twenty four of those earned more than $150,000, and eight earned more than $250,000. I have been involved with this industry for nearly forty five years and not much has changed to be honest in that time, except the cost of running the Industry. We need to change the structures that run this industry and bring them into the 21st century. Its like Harness Racing New Zealand is aware that the Titanic is going down but instead of taking any action they would rather sit and listen to the band. JC

Thursday 21st May 2015 - Bankstown Harness Racing and Agricultural Society president Les Bentley will look to boost prize money for the club’s flagship race, the M.H Treuer Memorial, after winning a lengthy court battle.  Bentley confirmed a court ruling meant the club would receive more than $1 million from the Bankstown Trotting and Recreational Club. “We have been working on this case since 2010, it has been a long haul but it is a great result for Bankstown with the news that we will receive $1.1 million in back rent up until today (Thursday),” said Bentley. “We are also entitled to interest on that money which goes back to May 2010 and we were awarded full legal costs and they are somewhere in the vicinity of $400,000 so it a great result for the Bankstown Paceway.” Bentley praised the solicitors involved in the legal action. “The team at Thurlow Fisher did a marvellous job and they need to be thanked for all of their hard work, we have two weeks to submit our costs to the judge and he will then order the Bankstown Trotting and Recreational Club to pay the amount within 28 days. “The good news for the Bankstown Paceway is that we can pay our debts and they have been growing because of this matter and then we can look to boost prize money.” Plans include lifting the prize money for the Treuer Memorial to $120,000. “The committee has discussed lifting the money and are looking to make it a race for three year olds rather than for the open horses and that proposal will be submitted to HRNSW soon. “We are hoping to introduce a few Gr. 3 races to our calendar as well.”    Greg Hayes

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