Day At The Track
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Huge stakes increases programmed for Alexandra Park will go ahead even after delays with one of the apartment blocks being built at the track.  And while admitting the delays were disappointing, ATC bosses say the racing business will continue to thrive.  ATC chief executive Dominique Dowding resigned on Friday for personal reasons, wanting to spend more time with an ill family member.  That has left former president Rod Croon in an executive director role until a new chief executive is found, which could be several months.  The transition period comes after a tough year off the track for the club which has seen lengthy delays to two residential and commercial towers at Alexandra Park, with original construction company Canam dismissed from one development and a subsequent legal battle between the two organisations.  The tower and a second one are now moving ahead well with Tower B to be the first opened in November this year. The more delayed Tower A will not open until April next year and the original owners of a small percentage of the 246 apartments have taken their deposits back and quit the building.  “Those apartments are going back to the market via Bayleys this week and we expect to sell them at a premium on what they were originally,” says Croon. But there is no denying the delays and construction issues will cut into the bottom line for the ATC.  “We have to be realistic about that but the good news for the racing industry is we are a trotting club and we intend to keep raising stakes because the industry needs that,” says Croon. “Those stakes increases are going to be funded long-term by the leases on the commercial spaces in the lower levels of the towers and those deals are still very much in place.  “So the stakes increases are here to stay.”  The increases start next week and are some of the largest in New Zealand racing history. They mean the normal Friday night meetings at Alexandra Park are going to match premier level stakes at other meetings in the country.  The club will still hold two races per standard meeting at $15,000 per race but all other races will be at $20,000 or $25,000 for the main pace and trot of the night.  That means, quite incredibly, a standard Friday night one-win band race at Alexandra Park will be worth twice as much as the same race at all mid-week thoroughbred meetings. The club holds it Woodlands Northern Derby meeting at Alexandra Park this Friday. Michael Guerin

CEO Dominique Dowding has resigned from Auckland Trotting Club (ATC) for personal reasons. Dominique advised the board recently that she wished to spend more time with an immediate family member who is unwell. She leaves with our gratitude and appreciation for her contribution to the organisation over more than six years. The board will commence a formal recruitment process to seek a permanent appointment to the CEO role. In the interim, Rod Croon, former ATC board president and current board member has stepped in as Executive Director – Rod is a valued industry stalwart who has made significant contributions to the club and wider industry. Rod is working with CFO Byron Waring and the senior management team to ensure a smooth transition to a new CEO for ATC. In relation to the development, ATC has shared the builder completion dates of April 2020 to Building A residents and November 2019 to Building B residents. We are holding Residents’ Evenings this month to discuss further with residents and address any concerns. On another note, a limited number of these sought-after apartments are now available for purchase, and these have been listed with Bayleys for resale. If you are interested in purchasing one of these apartments, we would advise you contact Shalini Hira at shalini.hira@bayleys.co.nz or 021 175 4657 as soon as possible to register your interest and secure the opportunity. It is a busy time for ATC and we will continue our operations as usual. We look forward to advising you when a new CEO is confirmed.   Rod Croon  Executive Director  

Young North Island harness racing participants will now have the opportunity to up-skill themselves thanks to the financial support of Croon Bloodstock and the NZ Equine Education Trust. Spokesperson, Anne Phillips, termed the concept as an "exciting one" for the future of harness racing in the North Island. She said the new industry initiative, known as the 'Croon Bloodstock Award' will enable North Island harness racing participants from all sectors of the industry to apply to the award fund for grants towards up-skilling. "The successful candidates will be people with a long-term future in harness racing, and who will use their expanded knowledge or experience to add value to our industry. "As well as targeting stud staff, drivers and trainers for stable or stud work experience opportunities, the grants will also be available to people who want to learn more about running a small business, not only to assist in their current positions but also to up-skill them to follow career paths in club/industry administration. A way to keep successful and talented young people in our industry," Phillips said. She said courses such as farrier, dentistry, computer skills and communication/media were just some options. The Award fund will be administered by New Zealand Equine Education Trust (NZEET), which has charitable trust status. To kick start 2017, the Croon Bloodstock Award Sub-Committee of NZEET Board Trustee; myself, sponsor; Rod Croon and Northern Region Harness tutor; Sally Waters have selected initiatives to get the grants underway," Waiau Pa-based Phillips said. Meanwhile, Phillips said current 'Premier Harness Racing Cadet', Mark Johnson, has had the opportunity to spend two weeks with the 'All Stars Stable' in Rolleston, as well as time with John Dunn at Woodend. Johnson thanked Croon Bloodstock and the Waikato Harness Racing Trust for the opportunity to have two weeks in the South Island learning new things from the different stables. "It was a good experience seeing how other trainers train their horses and vary their training strategies, and the different ways they liked having their horses driven in work. The opportunity to drive at Nelson, being around exciting horses like Smolda and Cash N Flow, and driving work on the beach were certainly highlights of the trip," Johnson said. "Thank you to the All Stars team and John for their willingness to teach me,” he added. In other news Phillips said Waiuku horsewoman, Michelle Hackett, is currently working on a computer course focusing on Excel to up-skill her for the work she has been doing with the northern cadets. "A communication and media course will be held at Franklin Park on August 12 and 13. Many of our younger drivers will remember the very popular and successful media training courses, held a few years ago with Dick Weir. Unfortunately, a lack of funding brought these to a halt but with the Croon Bloodstock Award we are again able to offer this opportunity. "A vibrant and enthusiastic facilitator Dick builds on each individual’s strengths, giving them strategies to improve their communication skills and develop confidence in media situations. In recent years Dick has worked with Trackside providing training for presenters, and in an on-going mentoring role. “Since 1996 Dick has been employed by New Zealand Racing Board to train not only Trackside presenters, but also studio directors, executives and bookies in communication and media skills," said Phillips. As Weir put it: “Everyone can be an excellent communicator in their own way, it’s just that training can help them reach their potential," Weir said The scholarship is available for 2017 and 2018, at the end of this period Croon will evaluate and review the scholarship. Croon is a Current Director of the New Zealand Racing Board, a former Chairman of Northern Harness Racing, former Auckland Trotting Club President and current vice president of the Auckland Trotting club. Phillips said he was a successful owner and breeder in New Zealand and a leading vendor at the Australasian Yearling Sale. "Rod has said that this award fund is a way to give back to an industry that he is passionate about and that has given him much pleasure and excitement over many years. It is also a way of giving something to the future of harness racing, by helping people in the industry up-skill and to be better prepared for the times ahead. For anyone interested in attending the communication / media course in August, or accessing the grant, please contact Anne or Sally for further details on how to apply. Anne Phillips: phillips@heritagefarm.co.nz   |   Phone: 021 672 959 Sally Waters: sallywaters@xtra.co.nz   |   Phone: 027 494 2850

Harness Racing New Zealand Board Election Nominations for North and South Island positions on the Harness Racing New Zealand (HRNZ) Board closed on Friday 20 May. Following the announcement of current Chairman Gary Allen’s retirement, there were three nominees for the two North Island seats on the Board. Allan Brown, President of the Manawatu Harness Racing Club, is seeking re-election to the seat he has held for the last two year term. John Coulam, immediate past President of Harness Racing Waikato, will also seek election following five years as President of that club. HRNZ’s representative on the New Zealand Racing Board, Rod Croon, has been nominated and will look to secure one of the two seats. Rod is a previous President of the Auckland Trotting Club and is the club’s current Vice President. In the South Island, Murray Swain was the sole nomination received and as such no election is required for this position. Murray is a well-known trainer in Southland, former President of Winton Harness Racing Club and is currently the Chair of Southern Harness Racing, a co-operative working group of all Southland clubs. Murray will assume his position on the Board following the Annual Conference on 30 July, replacing retiring Board member, Ailsa Smaill. Ailsa has sat on the Board of HRNZ for the past 12 years, initially taking the South Island seat in the 2004/05 season. Over this period, Ailsa has been a strong voice for those participants in the south and has held Board responsibility for a wide range of HRNZ portfolios. Ailsa and husband Charlie are the previous owners of Southland harness racing institution, Jaccka Lodge, and retain a strong interest in harness racing, particularly in Southland. Voting for the North Island positions closes on Monday 20 June 2016. For further details, contact: Edward Rennell Chief Executive HRNZ MEDIA

New Zealand horse breeder and former president of the Auckland Trotting Club, Rod Croon, must now remove his horses from his former property in Clevedon after he was unable to get the High Court to grant him an injunction. Croon claimed he had sold the 15.1ha property to the family trust of Maureen Maxwell, who is now married to James Conquer, who was at the time of the sale, the acting real estate agent for the transaction through Barfoot & Thompson. His claim is against both Maureen and James Conquer because the deal was to include a five year lease on the property so Croon could continue his breeding operation. Croon had been running his breeding operation on the farm for 11 years. The dispute is that the Conquer’s want $80,000 a year to lease the property and Croon claims the lease was part of the $3.1 million selling price. In dismissing the application, Justice Susan Thomas said Croon's business had six weeks to find alternative accommodation for the horses and vacate the property. To read the full article click on this link.

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