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New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB) has announced a Net Profit before Distributions result of $146.7 million for the year ending 31 July 2016, and the commencement of a new, independent inquiry for greyhound racing in New Zealand at its Annual General Meeting today. "NZRB has continued to increase its support of racing and sports in New Zealand, distributing $136.7 million to the three racing Codes, making commission payments of $8.0 million to National Sporting Organisations, and applying a further $11.7 million to the racing industry and $3.0 million to grassroots sports from gaming," says NZRB Chief Executive Officer, John Allen. "Our initial distributions to the racing Codes of $135.3 million was boosted by a further $1.4 million which was approved by the Board in September from Net Profit after Distributions, demonstrating our commitment to the wider industry. "Removing the impact of gains on sale of our Petone building in 2014/15, and our Christchurch property in 2015/16, our Net Profit before distributions has increased year-on-year by $5.6 million, or 4.1%. Betting Net Profit was $137.3 million, consistent with prior year, while Gaming Net Profit increased by 20.1% to $15.1 million." says Allen. "We have also increased both turnover and revenue, with total turnover of $2.7 billion 11.9% up on 2014/15, and total revenue up 4.6% to $351.9 million. "Our focus on our customers has seen nearly 181,000 account customers placing a bet over the past year, up 9.6%, with our digital channels continuing to grow in popularity and accounting for 55.9% of betting activity and our TAB Mobile App up 214.4% on last year." says Allen. "Economic analysis has shown that the New Zealand racing industry is not self-sufficient and is dependant on international racing income to sustain it. This is simply not a tenable position and we are working to help build a long-term sustainable future for racing in New Zealand. "Since taking up the reins in March 2015, I have focussed on assembling my leadership team with the right skills and experience to ensure NZRB has the foundations and capability to return the industry to a state where it can grow and prosper." says Allen. "We have identified a number of strategic initiatives to achieve this, and have made good progress this year towards their achievement. These initiatives will improve long-term profitability by an estimated $50-55 million in annualised net profit per year once fully delivered, by improving our competitiveness, growing our customer base and lowering our cost base. "We are putting the customer at the centre of our actions, focussing our investment in fit for purpose systems and infrastructure where it will provide the greatest long-term benefit," says Allen. Other key focuses for the racing industry over the next period will be animal welfare, infrastructure, youth development and stakes money. "We are working on a series of pilot enhancement funds to help support and grow the industry by tactically boosting stakes to attract higher quality racing, investing in key infrastructure and helping build the next generation of racing by encouraging and incentivising the development of career paths into and through the industry," says Allen.   The 2016 Annual Report, which can be found here.   Kate Gourdie Manager, Media and Corporate Communications New Zealand Racing Board m +64 21 994151 e w Level 1, 60 Stanley Street, Auckland, PO Box 37649, Parnell, Auckland 1151

The New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB) has released its Statement of Intent for the years 2017-2019. The Statement of Intent sets out NZRB’s strategic focus for the coming years and financial forecast through to 2018/19. Over the next 24 months, NZRB will be driving major change in order to address the challenges facing the New Zealand domestic racing industry. The initiatives identified by NZRB will improve NZRB’s long-term profitability by more than $50 million per year once implemented, and require an investment of ~$60-75 million. These initiatives are: Customer Strategy* Channel Strategy* Offshore Betting Optimise the Calendar Fixed Odds Betting platform In addition, NZRB will continue to prioritise re-engineering the NZRB cost model and ongoing improvements to our core technology. Total Net Profit is forecast to lift from $148.0 million in 2016/17 to $164.5 million by 2018/19, not including the impact of the currently identified key strategic investments, other than the anticipated increases in revenue due to new race fields legislation. NZRB is acutely aware of the fine balance between providing the industry with an assurance of funding in the short term to maintain the industry, while investing in longer-term change to build a sustainable future for all. “We are at a critical point where industry leaders and participants must commit to addressing major decisions on industry governance and structural change. At the same time, NZRB needs to invest, innovate, and deliver a more competitive business or service offering for our current and future customers, and by so doing, continue to generate adequate returns to sustain the industry.” NZRB Chair, Glenda Hughes. “The New Zealand racing industry has enjoyed many individual successes over the past season. The achievements of our animals, breeders, jockeys, drivers, and trainers have underpinned the New Zealand racing industry’s place as a major employer and contributor to the national and regional economies. Ours is an industry that deserves domestic and international support. However, while there is great promise, there are persistent and continuing challenges which must be addressed if we are to capitalise on this success and achieve our full potential.” NZRB CEO, John Allen. * Note - The Customer and Channel Strategy initiatives share some work and costs/benefits so are combined for financial purposes.   Click here to read the Statement of Intent 2017-19.   Courtesy of NZRB

The New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB) is making changes to its TAB Phonebet service, moving from a manned service to a fully automated one using TAB Touch Tone from 1 August 2016. As a result of this move, NZRB's Christchurch Phonebet site will be closed with 43 roles disestablished, however a consolidated site will remain in Wellington to provide a much smaller manned service for those who are medically exempt. "I would like to thank our Christchurch Phonebet team for their professionalism during the consultation process. We are working closely with them, providing support and guidance - not only for today but throughout the entire change process," said NZRB CEO John Allen. The decision, which follows a consultation period with staff, will provide financial savings to NZRB. "Our profits go back to funding sport and racing, ultimately this is about ensuring we're delivering the best return for an industry that is a significant contributor to New Zealand," said Mr Allen. It will also enable NZRB to focus investment in its growing digital channels to give its customers a better experience. "TAB customers are increasingly shifting online. Over 63% of our customers over 65 are using online channels and we know that only 3% of new customers use the Phonebet service. Betcount through Phonebet is also in decline, dropping by more than 17% a year," Mr Allen said. At its peak in 2001, Phonebet handled more than 30 million calls a year; today there are 27.5 million fewer betting calls a year. Around 10,000 customers use only Phonebet, out of a TAB customer base of approximately 250,000. While the Phonebet service will go, customers who prefer to use the phone will still have the ability to place their bets, check race results and get scratchings information via TAB Touch Tone, and will also be able to use NZRB's other channels, including online, in a retail store or on-course at the races, or through the TAB Mobile App. Kate Gourdie Manager, Media and Corporate Communications New Zealand Racing Board

New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB) Chair Glenda Hughes has today welcomed the findings of an off-shore betting working group announced by the Minister for Racing, Nathan Guy. Speaking at the organisations' Annual General Meeting in Petone today, Minister Guy outlined recommendations designed to combat the impact of off-shore betting on racing and sport. These include the introduction of an offshore bookmaker fee and changes to the Racing Act designed to make NZRB more competitive. It is estimated that New Zealanders spend with overseas agencies an estimated $58 million of gross betting revenue (turnover less dividends) from a total turnover of up to $518 million per year. Further, corporate bookmakers take an estimated $300 million of betting on New Zealand's domestic racing product. Hughes says offshore bookies are freeloading on quality New Zealand sport and racing products - they contribute nothing back to our domestic racing industry, they give nothing back to our local communities and pay nothing to the New Zealand Government. "The purpose of NZRB is to ensure the benefits from betting go to funding sport and racing, but offshore bookmakers erode this return back to the community," says Hughes. "It is not just for the Government to act, the NZRB also needs to be more competitive, ensure that Kiwis can get the same level of service and product offerings as are available offshore," says Hughes. In 2013/14, NZRB contributed $47.5 million in duties, tax and levies to the Government. NZRB CEO John Allen says the Governments recommendations are pleasing news for an industry that contributes $1.6 billion to the New Zealand economy and employs more than 17,000 people. "Racing is facing challenges, but it is an industry that can and will flourish - we just need to act now." "We are working on a series of projects and innovations designed to make us more competitive, so that we can grow Net Profit for distributions and properly support the racing and sports industries that depend on us." For the financial year ending 31 July the NZ Racing Board posted a Net Profit of $144.0 million - an increase of 5.1% on the 2013/14 financial year. The three racing codes - NZ Thoroughbred Racing, Harness Racing NZ and Greyhound Racing NZ received $134.2 million in distributions with a further $10.6m applied to the racing industry from gaming. National Sporting Organisations received $6.1 million and a record $2.7 million was paid or provided to other sporting bodies from gaming activities. Click here for a copy of the 2015 NZRB Annual Report. Click here for a copy of the Offshore Racing & Sports Betting Working Group Report. Kate Gourdie Manager, Media and Corporate Communications New Zealand Racing Board

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

The New Zealand Racing Board has released its 2015/16 racing calendar with a focus on delivering better value to the community and the wider racing industry. Monetising the calendar is a key strategic focus over the coming year, and the NZ Racing Board is working closely with the Greyhound, Thoroughbred and Harness Codes on further shaping the calendar to maximise the potential from race meetings. Harness Racing New Zealand has decided to consolidate in a bid to increase field sizes and improve the quality of racing. A total of four race meetings and 59 races have been removed from the 2015/16 season and the Auckland Trotting Cup has moved back to New Years Eve. The number of Greyhound and Thoroughbred races is largely unchanged. Two of Thoroughbred's marquee races, the Auckland Cup and the Karaka Million, have moved dates in the calendar in an initiative that will improve community and industry attendance. The 2015/16 calendar, comprising 1,060 meetings and 10,877 races across the three racing Codes, has been devised to optimise returns to the industry while recognising specific requirements for racing to reflect the importance of community engagement and alignment with international meetings. Following is a summary of the key dates, features and changes to the 2015/16 racing calendar: Thoroughbred Spring Racing commences at Hastings on Saturday 29 August 2015 with the first day of the Hawkes Bay Spring Carnival New Zealand Cup and Show Week in Christchurch will run from November 7- 14 2015 Auckland Trotting Cup returns to 31December 2015 (from first week of March) Karaka Million Twilight Racing is on January 24 2016 Wellington Cup Day will be held on January 30 2016 Auckland Cup Week runs from March 5to March 12 2016 The Harness Jewels take place at Cambridge on June 4 2016 Printed 2015/16 racing calendar booklets will be available free from TAB retail outlets from mid-July. Kate Gourdie New Zealand Racing Board

New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB) has today welcomed the appointment of an offshore betting working group announced by the Minister for Racing, Nathan Guy. NZRB Chair Glenda Hughes says "This is a positive step towards what has been a long-standing issue for New Zealand's racing industry and we look forward to seeing progress made on combatting the increasing impact of off-shore betting in New Zealand." New Zealand is unique in that all of the NZRB's profits are returned to the racing and sports industries. However, it is estimated that New Zealanders bet up to $300 million per year with overseas agencies that do not contribute to those industries, or are subject to the same responsibilities as NZRB. "Our industry works hard to provide quality racing and sport that is enjoyed around the world, but there is a problem when it does not get a fair return on its investment as a result of betting taking place offshore," says Hughes. Hughes commented that the rise of digital business has heightened the issue, further increasing the need for Government action. "International corporate bookmakers are increasingly taking bets on our domestic product without any benefit flowing back into the New Zealand racing industry, and without being subject to the same fees and taxes as NZRB. We would like to see a level playing field, where all betting placed on New Zealand racing results in an appropriate contribution back to support the development and growth of this industry. "This is a complex issue experienced the world over, with the likes of United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, France, Australia and Singapore all recently taking action," added Hughes. In the 2013/14 financial year, the three racing codes - thoroughbred, harness and greyhound - received $134.1 million in distributions. National Sporting Organisations received $5.0 million. Olivia Kinley Manager, Media and Corporate Communications New Zealand Racing Board

Harness racing in New Zealand is in a real bind in our opinion and unless our leaders do something very quickly then we could very easily become a "sunset industry" in this country. The breeding figures for the just completed breeding season are now available and the annual decline in mares bred continues unabated with the decline looking to be in the region of 7.5%. This decline has been evident for well over a decade now and if it is not stopped our industry as it is presently structured will cease to exist. We are not saying the harness racing industry as we know it, will disappear but its shape and form will look nothing like what we have at present. That is the cold hard reality we face when the number of foals bred cannot possibly meet the needs of a racing programme set up for foal crops of nearly double what we are going to now produce. A lot of short sighted people have claimed repeatedly that we are only getting rid of the poorer performed mares each year and that the decline is nothing to worry about. Nothing could be further from the truth. With the continuing decline we are seeing it is only a matter of time before the ability of some clubs to conduct meetings will be severely compromised. Regional areas of New Zealand that rely on horses from other provinces will be the first to feel the pinch in our view. We already have a situation in the thoroughbred code where they are absent from some provincial areas in New Zealand where they use to be strong and we think that harness racing will go that way as well if the breeding numbers continue to decline. Many point to the yearling sales as a guide to how healthy the industry is but it only represents 20% of our industry and while good for morale it can't change the basic premise that harness racing is an industry in rapid decline. The strength of harness racing in New Zealand has always been the fantastic spread of our industry throughout the country. In other words the grassroots of our industry has always been our strength. If that base was to be severely weakened, then the whole structure becomes vulnerable.  There are numerous methods used overseas to help the breeder stay in the industry and we have covered these in depth in previous articles. Harness Racing New Zealand and the New Zealand Racing Board have been strangely silent on solutions for this complex problem. There has been plenty of hand wringing and platitudes but no plan of action to help breeders stay in the industry. Time is of the essence in this matter and the longer we dither before doing something, the more chance that the intervention will be too little too late. JC

Just the four winners for the harness racing ringaround last week so we need improvement this week. Blair Orange, Tony Herlihy, Matthew Williamson and John Dunn all produced winners last week. The ringaround did pick four seconds and three thirds as well but we are expecting real improvement this week. There are four meetings this week to cover, they are Auckland and NZ Metropolitan on Friday, Gore on Saturday and Timaru on Sunday. Alexanrda Park - Frday Night Tony Herlihy - Keen on Red Sky Night this week. Thinks she can make it three-in-row, # 1 in race 4. Maurice McKendry - A good each way chance for Arms Of An Angel, # 1 in race eight. Scott Phelan - Le Lua Invasion is Scott's shots eye this week, # 10 in race five. Steven Reid - Easy On The Eye is on target for the Cup meeting will be hard to beat # 5 race six. Ray Green - Lincolns Megastar will be very hard to beat fresh up even from the draw. # 9 race one. Todd Macfarlane - Tarn went good last week and is on the improve. # 2 race three. Todd Mitchell - Cullect The Gold is much improved since his first run back and Todd expects a bold showing. # 8 race two.   New Zealand Metropolitan - Friday Night John Dunn - Return To Sender has trained on good since its first up 4th. # 7 race four. Ricky May - Well you guessed it this week, its Terror To Love  # 9 race seven. John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Rates Tokohoka as a great bet this week. # 10 race 10. Gerard O'Reilly - Thinks that Tiga Tara will be very hard to beat. # 7 race six. Matthew Williamson - Thinks that Yankee One can repeat this week # 5 race three. Steve Richadson (TAB) - Agrees with Ricky May that Terror To Love is the bet.  # 9 race seven Colin DeFilippi - Stent will bounce back after his last start failure. # 8 race five.   Gore - Saturday Dexter Dunn - No hesitation here with Dexter, Oneover is his bet of the week. # 6 race 10 Nathan Williamson -  Aldan's Rocket having its first start back and can run a drum. # 4 race eight. Clark Barron - I believe Mass Invasion will be very hard to beat. # 4 race one.. Brad Williamson - The Silver Fox will start over the odds and be hard to beat. # 5 race three Shane Walkinshaw - Expects a bold first up run from Red Electric # 1 race five   Timaru - Sunday Blair Orange - My best drive and bet of the week is Change Time # 1 race six Jim Curtin - Star Commando is my best chance this week # 14 in race one. Craig Thornley - All Delight was unlucky last start and will be hard to beat. # 7 race eight Robbie Holmes - Driving Nicaela and rates her as a good each way bet. # 1 race one.   Harnesslink media    

An 80 year old Masterton man who "bets to keep his brain active" has scored big, taking home more than $110,000 on a $5 bet. The punter chose an eight leg Multi, correctly picking the winners of eight races at the Christchurch Greyhounds last night. He collected $111,565 at odds of 22,113 to 1. "I'm in the industry, I race a few dogs and I've been betting since the legal age," says the man who does not want to be identified. "I pick my own bets and study the form to keep me sharp." The punter says he won $11,000 ten years ago, but this is his first big win. He recently came out of hospital and says he's going to spend some of the cash buying his kids a nice Christmas present. How he did it: $5 Multi on 8 legs at Christchurch greyhounds, Thursday 4th September R2 Sozin's Comet $2.60 R4 Spud Gun $3 R5 Adroit $12 R6 Laredo $5 R8 Little Regus $3.50 R9 Dream Collector $1.40 R10 Cawbourne Queen $3 R11 Fast Archer $3 RETURN = $110,565 Odds of 22,113 to 1   Kate Gourdie Manager, Media and Corporate Communications New Zealand Racing Board

The New Zealand Racing Board has become a despot, says leading Thoroughbred trainer John Wheeler, spending money willy nilly that the industry cannot afford. Wheeler is incensed about revelations the board has had to revise the over ambitious forecasts of its recently departed chief executive Chris Bayliss, leaving the codes facing more lean years. "They spend money hand over foot and we get the left-overs," Wheeler said of NZRB. "I've been saying for 10 years that the funding model is wrong. How much longer do we have to tolerate it? "We shouldn't be getting the crumbs. The codes should be getting what they need to make racing flourish and the board should be cutting its cloth to suit." While Bayliss was talking a 50% rise in returns to owners within five years, Wheeler said he gave up believing anything the board said years ago after a succession of ineffectual highly-paid CEOs had come and gone. "The board has been dysfunctional for a decade and it's time the Racing Minister did something. "Costs have doubled in the last decade, they've hired more and more staff, it's out of control." Wheeler said the industry was now paying for the grand spending spree that its just departed CEO Chris Bayliss went on, millions spent on moving to flash new offices in Parnell, a $10 million state-of-the-art Trackside studio and a failed Triple Trio campaign. Wheeler said he understood the cost of the failed Typhoon betting system was also a lot higher than the $11.1 million the board wrote off in 2012. "Thoroughbred Racing needs only another $3 million or $4 million to make a go of it." Courtesy of Barry Lichter and the Sunday Star Times

If the racing industry wants to remain competitive, it must change and become more relevant to a younger customer base. That's the clear message from New Zealand Racing Board chair Glenda Hughes who says with those changes inevitably come costs. Hughes said while the year end financials hadn't yet been finalised, the board was being upfront with stakeholders that it would not meet its net profit target and that distribution forecasts would be "steady." A high New Zealand-Australia currency exchange rate, which has also impacted on SkyCity's results, was partly to blame but higher costs and longer timeframes associated with key projects, such as the mobile app and broadcasting upgrade had also contributed. "Coming in, I knew the business suffered from historic underinvestment and it was clear to me changes were needed to keep the business competitive," Hughes said. "Together with the soon-to-be-released new mobile app and an upgrade in core IT services, these investments better position the business to remain relevant to a younger customer base and adapt to a rapid shift to digital channels. "These projects are not yet delivering the full benefits planned and this has flowed through our forecasts." But Hughes said good results had started already from these projects such as live race streaming and the transition to SKY which had paved the way for the recently revamped TAB Trackside 1 and Trackside 2 television channels. Hughes said despite the necessary industry investment for the future, the board would be very focussed on bringing down other costs. "I see this as a major issue and it's the point that is raised with me more than any other. "I'll be pushing hard to see focus brought to reducing costs even though it may take some time for them to unwind." Hughes said this year's Statement of Intent was an honest reflection of where NZRB stood at the moment and the board was taking a more realistic approach. "It is not where I'd like us to be but our aim is to get the distribution back up to the codes. "Last year we delivered a record distribution and next year we'll be reviewing the forecasts to ensure we are delivering the best possible distribution." Hughes said it was nothing unusual to review and update its three year forecasts. "We do this every year to ensure we accurately reflect the state of the business and our operating environment. A draft has gone to the racing industry for consultation and we will take their feedback into account. "We will be refining the strategy accordingly. We'll be in a better position to provide an update at our agm later this year." Hughes said while higher than expected costs had impacted on distribution forecasts for the new season that did not mean the strategic goals unveiled in 2013 may not eventually be achievable. Meanwhile, Hughes welcomed news that both the Government and Labour had committed to tackling the issue of betting leakage, which was now a major threat to the industry. It is estimated New Zealanders bet $300 million a year with overseas agencies that isn't subject to levies or taxes, costing the Government $30m in revenue and the codes $35m in profit distribution. Racing Minister Nathan Guy said betting was now a priority, and his team would work closely with the industry to find practical solutions to the problem after the election. Racing spokesperson Ross Robertson said Labour would pass legislation to stop offshore betting websites from avoiding tax here. Courtesy of Barry Lichter and the Sunday Star Times

Alarm bells have started ringing for racing industry stakeholders after revelations that projected returns from the New Zealand Racing Board are likely to be well down on those forecasted for the next few years. In an address to the annual meeting of clubs in Christchurch, chairman Gary Allen said Harness Racing New Zealand had just received "an amended statement of corporate intent" from the NZRB which signalled there would be limited growth in funding for the next three years. And he revealed that HRNZ would have to use $1 million of its $2.5m reserve fund this season to just maintain its present stake levels, which are already so low that trainers are struggling to keep their owners. Allen said the board was aware of the financial pressures facing the industry and the need to at least maintain returns, but he warned that without extra funding, it would not be sustainable in future seasons. The announcement came as a shock after the NZRB had signalled in its 2013 annual report that its strategic five-year goal was to increase its surplus from $142m to between $160m and $180m. Chief executive Chris Bayliss, who recently left the board suddenly in mysterious circumstances, had said the board aimed to grow stakes by 50 per cent in five years, generate 30 per cent more turnover from new markets and products and reduce the cost-to-income ratio to below 30 per cent. But all that now seems pie-in-the-sky and Allen said the NZRB statement "was not good enough". "Some increases must be provided in years two and three to at least enable the industry to match CPI and inflationary pressures," Allen said. Apart from continuing to explore additional revenues it was incumbent on the NZRB, as well as the codes and clubs, to find efficiencies to reduce costs, he said. Returns to stakeholders had to be increased - "we cannot continue to rely on the goodwill and passion of our industry participants." Allen said because the funding level this season was only consistent with last season, HRNZ was not in a position to increase the minimum stake level of $5000. "We have asked clubs to increase stakes where they can, and many have, but it's not easy to direct clubs to take action when they can't afford it. "Maintaining confidence at the lower levels is crucial to maintaining interest in the industry long-term as the costs for owners are the same whether they have a champion or a battling maiden." Allen said despite the challenging environment, the industry had recorded some very positive results in the last season. Feedback he'd received from the last annual conference was that he had been overly positive - "one delegate even went so far as to state I must have been on the ‘wacky backy'. "But the optimism I conveyed last year was not misplaced. "We have run more races [up 50 to 2795], used the horse population better [total starts up 1092 to 29,635], grown our total turnover base [up $4.863m] and market share [up from 29.3 per cent to 29.7 per cent] and increased stakes [by 4.57 per cent to $29.8m]. "I believe we can look forward to the future with cautious optimism, however, the challenges facing the industry are considerable. "They will not be overcome without some pain and decisions in the future that will not please everyone. "Over the years the industry has become averse to change, however, we must be prepared to better embrace change if we are to go forward. We will need to set aside self interest and make some hard decisions for the long term sustainability of the industry." Allen said a new structure of premier racing for the new season would see the number of meetings reduced from 17 to 15 but the minimum stakes raised to $20,000. "These meetings will stand out significantly from other meetings and attract greater attention of the racing public." Courtesy of Barry Lichter and the Sunday Star Times

The New Zealand Racing Board welcomes the commitment of both the Government and Labour party to tackle the issue of offshore betting. Racing Minister Nathan Guy says it's now a priority, and his team intend to work closely with the racing industry to look for practical solutions to the problem after the election. Racing Spokesperson Ross Robertson says Labour will pass legislation to stop offshore betting websites from avoiding tax in New Zealand and denying revenue to the New Zealand racing industry. The TAB estimates that New Zealanders bet up to $300 million per year with overseas agencies that isn't subject to levies or taxes. New Zealand Racing Board Chair Glenda Hughes says leakage is increasing and now a major threat to New Zealand's racing industry. "We have long called for measures to level the playing field and ensure the racing industry sees a benefit from their investment." "We have been working with the current government on this issue and we are pleased that both these political parties now see the need to take action." The racing industry plays a critical role in the New Zealand economy contributing $1.6 billion to GDP - on par with the seafood and wine industries. It's a major source of employment, supporting over 17,000 full time jobs across the country. Kate Gourdie Manager, Media and Corporate Communications New Zealand Racing Board

This is the third in a series of articles we are running with regards to the racing policies of the major political parties in New Zealand. This time it is the LABOUR PARTY: Our vision    Racing is a skilled, vibrant industry with a high profile in New Zealand. It contributes  significantly to the domestic economy in terms of primary production, as a gaming sport and  in entertainment. It has an extremely high value in the export of bloodstock, particularly in  new markets such as Hong Kong.    Racing offers employment directly and indirectly to many people across a wide spectrum of  society. Labour is committed to working in partnership with the industry to achieve better  outcomes in all areas of the racing industry.    When in government, we worked hard to build a good environment for the industry. The  income tax liability was removed on offshore stake money, and the GST liability due on  horses sold for export was addressed.    The Racing Act 2003 better equipped the industry to address the challenges it faces. Labour  delivered a reduction in taxation to align with other forms of gambling, enabling the industry  to have increased funds for stakes, assets and other activities.    Labour recognises the need for the industry to achieve sustainable growth through  maximising strengths and opportunities, and will continue to work closely with the sector to  facilitate this.    Value to economy    The racing industry makes a significant contribution to New Zealand‟s GDP, and creates  employment and export opportunities. A study by the Melbourne-based economic  consultancy IER Pty Ltd (IER) found that in 2008/09 the industry had a significant economic  impact on New Zealand‟s GDP, employment and exports.   They reported that, in 2008/09:    1) Racing made a direct contribution of $464 million to GDP, and generated more than  $1,635 million (0.9 per cent of GDP) if the indirect impact of expenditure in the racing  industry is taken into account.    2) Racing directly sustained 8,877 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs, and when the indirect  impact of racing is taken into account, the total employment increased to 16,934 FTE  jobs. More than 52,000 people participated in the racing industry (this figure included  volunteers and owners).    3) The racing industry generated more than $167 million in export sales of thoroughbred  and standard bred horses.    A prosperous and dynamic sector with huge potential  The racing industry is currently in decline, primarily through having to compete with many  other forms of gambling. So changes are needed. When in Government, Labour will be  instrumental in allowing all parts of the industry to be involved in reviewing the current status  of the industry, and to establish what is the best way forward.    Labour is committed to building on the good partnership we had developed with the racing  industry, and will continue to work closely with the industry to strengthen racing‟s  contribution to economic growth. Labour will ensure that all additional funding to racing  contributes to real economic growth to be enjoyed by all stakeholders, through appropriate  industry strategies.    Recognising that change must come from within, Labour will convene a round-table  discussion of major stakeholders in the industry with a view to strengthening and  enhancing the economic viability of racing in New Zealand. We will ensure that a  strategic direction is developed and implemented.    Labour is concerned that some racing clubs might use revenue from pokie machines for  purposes other than for the social good. There are also proposals to establish pokie  machines on racing club premises, and we are concerned this may be done without  sufficiently-wide consultation. Labour will bring together industry stakeholders to develop  policy on these issues.    Labour will ensure the robustness of the Integrity Unit, meaning that those appointed to it are  of the highest calibre, in order to maintain the integrity of the unit and the industry.    Labour in government will assist in establishing a Code of Practice for the racing industry,  which will be drawn up and agreed upon by all major stakeholders and will link with the  current set-up of the Integrity Unit.    We will also uphold the position of the New Zealand Racing Board to hold the exclusive  rights to racing and sports betting in New Zealand, and for the net proceeds to be returned to  sustain New Zealand racing.    Labour will work with the New Zealand Racing Board, the racing code bodies, the Governments and International racing bodies to ensure that New Zealand is well placed to respond to any threats to racing's revenue and integrity.   Racing is inherently a dangerous occupation. But with the right tools, the risks can be  managed and mitigated. Labour is committed to working with the sector to ensure that  jockeys ride in the safest environment possible. A reduction of injuries and safer practices  will result in a reduction in ACC levies.   Labour will work with the industry to reduce injuries, promote safe practices and provide safe amenities.    Our thoroughbred stock is a precious resource, and in New Zealand we are lucky our  industry is free from diseases such as Equine Influenza. But the scare in Australia reinforces the need for vigilance in biosecurity measures to protect the industry. Labour will ensure the  racing sector and the government have the necessary measures and tools in place to  identify and manage biosecurity risks to protect the industry.    Labour will support appropriate biosecurity measures to protect the racing industry in  all its activities.    Skills development and training is as important in the racing sector as any other sector. We  want to see the industry continue to move towards being a high-technology, high-skilled  driver of growth. Labour will continue to work with the sector to identify areas for  improvement in industry training and education.    Labour will work with the racing sector to further its industry training and education  goals.    Labour recognises the difficulties faced by the racing industry in modernising itself for the  21st century. We will work with all major stakeholders to ensure the revitalisation of a strong  economic performer which can do even better.    The Labour Party            

Racing in NZ directly and indirectly accounts for well over $1.6 billion dollars worth of GDP, employs tens of thousands of people, has the potential to rapidly expand its export earnings and is an integral part of the Kiwi lifestyle. 1. In 2006 NZ First recognised the export potential of the NZ breeding industry and the need for improved international marketing, and achieved a much improved taxation regime through a reduction in totalisator duty and an accelerated write-down regime for bloodstock. 2. The strongly supported decision to permit racehorses sold for export to remain in NZ for up to 24 months without attracting GST was a further fillip to the industry and to the NZ economy. 3. In addition NZ First implemented a policy of internationally competitive stakes for racing codes, and an industry safety plan. These achievements provided the industry with the momentum to bolster its economic contribution, creating more jobs, more exports, and more income for NZ. Sadly much of the impetus to revive the racing industry has been lost under the present Government’s neglect. Also of alarm are recent IRD and Treasury departmental attempts to re-interpret clearly established statutory provisions against the industry’s health and interests. PLANS New Zealand First will: 1. Return a greater proportion of industry taxation to the racing codes.  2. Introduce a new (below Premier Meeting) category of meeting where every race will be for $15,000 minimum, with relativity across the codes. 3. Enhance employment and export opportunities by working with the industry to improve the international status of New Zealand Group 1 races to attract greater international interest. 4. Restore marque racing plans and prize money initiatives in line with NZ First policy implementation 2005 –2008 5. Return NZ racing to what it was good at. Racing needs breeding programmes to re-establish NZ as a first tier country in racing. That means policies assisting importation of quality mares, and properly using the sire cost write down. 6. Urgently review the operations and costs of the NZ Racing Board 7. Continue to support projects and initiatives, e.g. the Racing Safety Development Fund (a contestable fund of $1.5 million per annum, matching dollar for dollar contributions from racing clubs) that enhances safety and improves the quality of facilities in the racing industry, including the safety of riders, handlers, spectators, officials and others involved in racing codes, as well as the health and safety of animals. 8. Direct IRD and Treasury to respect the spirit of the laws passed to assist racing so we do not have specious departmental interpretations of laws that are clear to the industry. 9. Further improve the appeal of the racing industry to a wider audience by encouraging the promotion of “family-friendly” activities in conjunction with race meetings in all codes. 10.  Defend the historic, modest share of the racing industry, to lawful gambling proceeds, against unreasonable attacks. This is a Ten-Point Plan designed to maximise New Zealand's internationally recognised advantage in the development of race horses and to rebuild our country's reputation as a race horse breeding country of most interest to the world. This plan supports the industry's objectives to increase its economic contribution, creating more jobs, more exports and more income for New Zealand.  Judith Hughey Communications Advisor New Zealand First

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