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
With the election drawing near we thought it would be approiate to give all the major political parties an opportunity to enlighten us with their vision for the racing industry. First up are the GREENS: Green Party response: While racing is not an issue on which the Green Party has a particularly high profile, we recognise very clearly the key role the racing industry plays in our national economy and in our local communities through job creation in breeding, local and export sales, training and, of course, racing itself. The Greens believe any Government assistance should go towards those parts of the industry which are struggling to survive, and not to those which are already fantastically successful. The Greens believe that in supporting the racing industry, Government should: Require some of the substantial funds held by the Racing Board be released to meet the needs of racing in a fair and equitable manner before the taxpayer is called on to subsidise the industry. Stop the practice of funds from non-casino gaming machine gambling going towards premier race stakes, and divert such funding to the development of racing infrastructure, particularly to support struggling and rural racing clubs. Amend the Racing Act to ensure that the New Zealand Racing Board exhibits a sense of social responsibility with regard to all the communities in which racing takes place. From the office of Denise Roche MP Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand
Sport betting's top executive left his $1 million job for "personal and family" reasons, saying the commute between Auckland and Wellington affected his health and family life. The resignation of NZ Racing Board chief executive Chris Bayliss caused disappointment and surprise in the industry this week, coming just 22 months after he started. Amid calls for explanations, Mr Bayliss said he had enjoyed the job and left behind "great talent" and an "excellent executive team" to continue the work. To read the full story in the New Zealand Herald click n this link.
The highly paid chief executive of the state-run NZ Racing Board has quit with eight days' notice, leaving the board without a replacement and the public without a reason for his departure. The resignation of former banking executive Chris Bayliss, 47, was announced yesterday, less than two years after he started the job. To read the full article click here.
Scrapping Monday racing is a win-win across the board. The New Zealand Racing Board - the current administration of which is only early in its second year - has taken a major step in turning around the move to Monday racing put in place by the previous administration. It was meant to provide more "product" (a horrible word for race lovers) for Australians to bet on. It hasn't worked. It diluted our domestic product in thoroughbred racing, something exacerbated by falling horse numbers. The public likes betting into bigger fields. By scrapping 26 racedays - 159 races - the move lessens the overall cost of producing race meetings and should increase field sizes if horse numbers reasonably plateau. Racing Board chief executive Chris Bayliss has said from day one the focus has to be on increasing financial returns to owners. Both equine codes indicated to the Racing Board a desire to downsize for the new season. Harness racing has reduced its yearly schedule by only one race meeting, but by 107 races.This is a good first stepping stone. Racing on Mondays now will be restricted to statutory holidays and the odd provincial anniversary. Monday racing has been extremely tough on industry participants. Matamata trainer Graham Richardson, one of the industry's progressive thinkers said: "Look, they had a go and it didn't work, so let's try something else. "It's like any business, some ideas work and some don't. "Certainly, it's been difficult for trainers to roster staff and losing Mondays will ease that problem. It will be a significant cost saver for owners and trainers." The Racing Board says: "The 2014/15 calendar, comprising 1062 meetings and 10,913 races across the three racing codes, has been devised to better meet the industry's objectives of optimising domestic and international betting performance. "The majority of traditional race dates for the 2014/15 season remain unchanged from previous seasons." Seven of the 26 scrapped racedays will be those held by the now defunct Paeroa racing complex, which two months ago was deemed to be unsuitable for race meetings and trial meetings. The Avondale Jockey Club will lose one meeting, as will the Counties Racing Club. However the Auckland Trotting Club gains three meetings and the Auckland Greyhound Racing Club, one. The Manukau and Kumeu Trotting Clubs both shed a meeting. In Waikato, Harness Racing Waikato loses a meeting as does the Morrinsville Trotting Club. Over to the thoroughbred code and there will be one less meeting per season at Thames and Waipa. Whangarei and Whakatane also lose one meeting each. By Mike Dillon, (reprinted with permission by www.nzherald.co.nz)
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has had a lifetime love affair with harness racing and says he would like to own a pacer one day. “I’ve never owned one, but one day I might well buy a pacer. I have always enjoyed harness racing. “I’m going back to the 1970s now – my all-time favourite pacer was Lord Module, one of Cecil Devine’s champions, and my favourite trotter was Scotch Tar,” the Prime Minister said. There was always going to be a Cecil Devine trained standardbred in the Prime Minister’s “favourite list”. He used to work for the six-time New Zealand Cup winning trainer. “I actually have a bit of history in racing, going right back to the days when I worked for the legendary driver and trainer Cecil Devine in my youth in Christchurch. “It was an after-school job cleaning out the stables, and all the things that stable hands do. And I have to say I did it mainly for love, not money! “And while I sometimes did drive horses, I was pretty young – only 14 or 15 – so I wouldn’t want to overstate my responsibility. But, my lasting memory is that they’re big animals and they go quick.” 53-year-old Prime Minister Key said. From those early days, through to more recent years when Mr Key was a member of Kumeu Trotting Club. “I have had a real fondness for horses and racing, and in particular, harness racing. I actually used to go to the New Zealand Trotting Cup and the Inter-Doms whenever I could when I was at school and university. I loved it,” He said. The Prime Minister did have a share in a galloper named Atherius, as one of about 10 in a syndicate at one stage. “I believe he’s now enjoying his retirement on Norfolk Island. But for me personally, you can’t beat harness racing and it would definitely be a pacer if I was to get a horse. “Harness racing provides a great day out for families; it’s a lot of fun and because trotting is held at night, it’s often a very picturesque occasion,” The Prime Minister said. In terms of the racing industry itself, Mr Key believed it was going through a period of substantial change, and his goal was to make owning a racehorse profitable. “There will always be those who simply get involved for the sheer fun of it, but at the moment the stakes are too low and the costs are too high. “I know the New Zealand Racing Board is constantly working on ways to improve those metrics,” he said. A little bit about our Prime Minister: Born in Auckland before moving to Christchurch when he was a child, Key attended the University of Canterbury and graduated in 1981 with a bachelor of commerce. He began a career in the foreign exchange market in New Zealand before moving overseas to work for Merrill Lynch, in which he became head of global foreign exchange in 1995, a position he would hold for six years. In 1999 he was appointed a member of the Foreign Exchange Committee of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York until leaving in 2001. Key entered the New Zealand Parliament representing the Auckland electorate of Helensville as one of the few new National members of parliament in the election of 2002 following National's significant defeat of that year. He has held the seat since then. In 2004, he was appointed Finance Spokesman for National and eventually succeeded Don Brash as the National Party leader in 2006. After two years as Leader of the Opposition, Key led his party to victory in both the November 2008 and the November 2011 general elections. As Prime Minister, Key leads the Fifth National Government of New Zealand which entered government at the beginning of the late-2000s recession in 2008. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)
This Friday will see a particularly fortuitous character of the celestial Zodiac gallop in for the Chinese New Year - the Horse. To celebrate, the TAB will be giving out traditional Chinese 'Red Envelopes' containing betting vouchers in $8 multiples to the first 25 customers who buy a $20 Triple Trio Easybet at Alexandra Park TAB on Friday and Saturday. TAB Triple Trio - a Hong Kong import and one of the region's favourite bets - has already proven lucky for a number of bettors including two people winning six figures in the first two weeks. The third running of the Triple Trio will be this Saturday - the second day of the Year of the Horse. TAB Executive General Manager Glenn Patrick said the TAB definitely expected a spike in betting on horses to mark the Year of the Horse and wished people luck. "Some people don't believe in luck or coincidences - but I can tell you we've already had some very lucky Triple Trio punters, and it wouldn't surprise me if our third Triple Trio sees another massive win during the Chinese New Year holiday." January 31 marks the beginning of the New Year in many Asian countries, and with it a change in the Zodiac animal. It is believed that the horse symbolises momentum, positivity and independence. The latter is particularly evident, as a foal can stand up less than 10 minutes after birth and begins to walk soon after. Characteristics such as speed, bravado and a little bit of attitude come naturally to the equine zodiac. Red Envelopes are traditionally exchanged during important occasions or holidays, to ward off evil spirits, and usually contain money in an even numbered denomination. This week's Triple Trio has a $500,000 pool for the Dunedin Races at Wingatui. The Triple Trio challenges customers to pick the first three place getters in each of the three Triple Trio nominated races. The order of the horses doesn't matter - just that they placed in the top three. Triple Trio bets can be purchased at the racecourse, from local TABs, at www.tab.co.nz and over the phone. Tom Judd Corporate Communications New Zealand Racing Board