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The Introduction of a new media centre provides the perfect opportunity for harness racing to enter into a modern era in New South Wales. The brain child of outgoing CEO Sam Nati, the media centre will be a one stop shop for all harness fans and participants. "The great challenge for harness racing is to remain relevant in the market place and on the sporting landscape. We cannot achieve that without sophisticated and modern media presences online," Nati said The new initiative can be found at harnessmediacentre.com.au. The launch, to be streamed live, will commence at 7pm next Tuesday (August 19). The general public simply have to log on to the web address and the streaming can be viewed via Smart TV, Phone or Tablet. "The Media Centre was conceived to consolidate our various online offerings and traditional print content," Nati said. "The Principal Club has built a TV standard studio on course at Menangle so that will be the base for the production of the content available on the website." Tuesday's launch will feature new season breeding initiatives along with information on future content associated with media centre. A small part of that content will be daily racing previews for all NSW TAB harness meetings. The plan is to have preview shows, a magazine style show, and even eventually live streaming of races. "There will be a roll out of content. Video previews will be available from the commencement as will an expansion of trial replays to include Newcastle, Bathurst and Penrith. Previews for each meeting will be recorded after scratchings and will be available to watch at any time during the day," said Nati. "We will also heavily promote these through social media so they will be delivered directly to the customer as well. "Just as importantly the Media Centre will provide the opportunity for HRNSW to deliver important industry messages especially in the area of integrity. "Live streaming from major meetings will come a little later. Interviews are already being done for Trots TV, but they will be more polished and professionally edited as we move forward. Advertising opportunities have also been created. For further details call Dale Walker at HRNSW on 9722 6677. Harness Racing New South Wales            

There will be no love lost between Queensland's top young harness racing drivers and their New South Wales counterparts when they go head to head in the inaugural Young Drivers State of Origin Series later this month. The Queensland team of Peter McMullen, Chantal Turpin, Trent Moffatt, Narissa McMullen and Amy Rees will travel to Menangle for the series opener on August 26 before returning to their home turf at Albion Park on August 29. The joint initiative between Racing Queensland and Harness Racing New South Wales was the brainchild of outgoing Albion Park Harness Racing Club Chairman Kevin Seymour AM. Racing Queensland Chief Executive Darren Condon said the state had some outstanding talent in its junior ranks and the six-race series would provide invaluable experience for both teams. "To take these young drivers down to New South Wales and compete at a venue like Menangle is an experience they could well have had to wait many years for and this series gives them the opportunity to do it now," Mr Condon said. "Being able to compete on different tracks against the best young drivers in other states does wonders for a young driver's confidence, but they can also build a network in another state that could open up opportunities for them in the future. "Harness Racing certainly has a high rate of younger participants in Queensland and we are proud to able to give the Young Guns this opportunity and be part of such a great initiative." The New South Wales team consists of Cameron Jones, Chris Geary, Kasey Hocking, Kylie Barnes and Todd Prest. Harness Racing NSW Chief Executive Sam Nati said providing opportunities like this for the young participants in his state is vital for the future of the sport. "We are all acutely aware of the need to nurture the next generation of trainers and drivers, "Mr Nati said. "Giving them the opportunity to participate in showcase events such as this not only provides a great incentive, but just as importantly, valuable learning opportunities. "Additionally it's very satisfying to achieve an outcome with another state controlling body which is mutually beneficial to our respective longer term objectives." Racing Queensland and Harness Racing NSW have confirmed a boost to the prize pool for the six races with each worth $10,000. New South Wales will launch the series with three races scheduled on Tuesday 26 August at Menangle, with the Queensland final scheduled for Friday 29 August at Albion Park. For further information please contact: Queensland Lucy McIntosh (Brand Manager - Harness, Racing Queensland) 0457 743 908 New South Wales Sam Nati (CEO - Harness Racing NSW) 02 9722 6600                  

Construction work on the Harness Racing New South Wales Menangle Park training centre has  commenced. The site was given the all clear after obtaining an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit - an ongoing  process that took more than 12 months revealing more than 320 artefacts in the archaeological  excavation. Tenders for the earthworks, as well as the construction of the new intersection off Menangle Road, are about to be finalised with work to start in September. Other ancillary utilities for the multi-million dollar facility include a veterinary clinic, a produce store,  a water walker and an administration centre to go with the 400 permanent stables on site. On the 40-hectare parcel of land will also be a 1000m training track as well as day-paddocks.  “Whilst it may seem this project is all ‘talk’, the detailed processes including importantly  Campbelltown City Council and the Roads and Maritime Services approval take time,” New South  Wales Harness Racing Club chief executive John Dumesny explained. “Rex Horne, Sam Nati and project consultant Michael Brown, have had countless meetings with as  many as 100 potential suppliers, contractors, consultants, utility providers and Government agencies  since the DA was approved in April by Council. “It is now all systems go and participants will see changes to the landscape in coming weeks.” For further information telephone NSWHRC Chief Executive John Dumesny on 0438 398 210.  

As previously advised, HRNSW's Chief Executive Officer, Sam Nati, announced his resignation to the Board on Wednesday 14th May 2014 to take up an external consultancy role. Sam's resignation will take effect from Friday 22 August 2014. As outlined in that media release the process to find Sam's replacement was to commence soon thereafter. The purpose of this media release is to advise the industry of the process that will be followed to select the new CEO. Prior to the last Board meeting a number of search firms were approached to provide an outline of their services, their selection techniques and strategies and past experiences in the appointment of similar level positions in both the private and not-for-profit sectors. Watermark Search International ("Watermark") was subsequently appointed by the Board to undertake the search and the Board also elected 3 of its members, namely myself and Alex and Rod Smith, to work with Watermark in the early stages of the selection process. Mr Gregory Dohnt, a partner of Watermark, met with us on Friday 6 June and commenced the process this week. He is expected to report back to us over the next two to three weeks with his initial findings and thereafter on a more regular basis until the appointment has been completed. We expect a number of industry participants will approach or be contacted by Watermark as will a number of non harness candidates. Watermark will be responsible for screening all candidates and providing us with a short list of candidates to interview. The Board believes that the process to identify and select a new CEO will take between six and eight weeks and will negotiate a starting date with the successful candidate as soon as possible thereafter. If anyone has any questions in relation to the process please do not hesitate to contact myself or Peter Carney who is co-ordinating the process on behalf of the Board or Greg Dohnt at Watermark on (02) 9233 1200. Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) is the controlling body for harness racing in New South Wales with responsibility for commercial and regulatory management of the industry including 31 racing clubs across the State. HRNSW is headed by an industry-appointed Board of Directors and is independent of Government. To arrange an interview or for further information please contact: Name: Rex Horne Position: Chairman Phone: (02) 9722 6600 Email: rhorne@hrnsw.com.au Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |

With support from Harness Racing NSW, NSW Mini Trots held a successful information and training day in the Hunter Valley over the weekend. Mini Trots Secretary Daryll Jackson said the day was well received by the community and thanked HRNSW for their important contribution. "Harness Racing NSW has been magnificent in assisting with the supply of ponies and equipment," he said. "With the Mini Trots being able to hold these information days it will help the sport enter into a new era. "By holding these days it provides a pathway for new clientele to explore the mini trots." The sessions allowed the public to be versed in general knowledge of the ponies but they were also provided with a step by step grooming instruction and the basics of driving a mini trotter. Harness Racing NSW CEO Sam Nati explained that it was paramount that the grass roots level be showcased throughout the regions. "What this does is provide an entry point to harness racing for people outside the industry in a cost effective manner," Nati said. "We love that our sport is driven at a family level and in many cases there are three and even four generations of participants, but it's equally important to stay relevant in a broader sense and encourage newcomers to the industry. "Mr Jackson's commitment to the cause has been outstanding and HRNSW acknowledges his ongoing contribution." The next Mini Trots training and information course will be held at Stanford Merthyr Pony Club grounds at Kurri Kurri on Sunday June 15. For further details please email nswminitrots@hotmail.com Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |            

Harness Racing New South Wales is excited to announce the KS Black and Co Competitive Stakes Gold Series to be run throughout June, July and August. The set of races are scheduled across all regions and include heats and three $7,500 finals. HRNSW CEO Sam Nati said: "The competitive stakes concept was recently introduced to create additional opportunities for a certain class of horse using mile rates as a handicapping mechanism. "We recognise the need to ensure the most efficient use of the horse population, even the less competitive ones in the system. "These races provide that platform with the key objective to keep owners and hobbyists in the game." The HRNSW Racing Department started programming the competitive stakes late last year and since then they have continued to grow in popularity and relevance. The KS Black and Co Gold series is open to R0/R1 horses which have had a minimum of 6 starts and an average mile rate of no faster than 2.02.0 in their last 6 starts at time of nomination. Country divisions will have an average mile rate of no faster than 2.04.0. Sth West Riverina & Western Districts Heat – Parkes 28th June Heat - Bathurst 2nd July Heat - Wagga 4th July Heat - Young 5th July FINAL – Young 11th July - $7500 Hunter Heat – Tamworth 24th July Heat – Maitland 25th July FINAL – Maitland 1st August - $7500 Metro Heat – Penrith 14th August Heat – Penrith 21st August FINAL – Bankstown 28th August - $7500 Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |

HRNSW Chief Executive Mr Sam Nati last night advised the Board of his intention to leave the position effective Friday 22 August 2014. Mr Nati, who has been Chief Executive since September 2009, is departing HRNSW to accept a consultancy role. To ensure the best possible transition for the organisation, taking into consideration the large number of projects currently in progress, Mr Nati has agreed to an extended notice period. The process to find his successor will commence shortly. "There's no such thing as a perfect ending or the right moment to leave, just an innate sense that it's time to do something new," Mr Nati said. "It was indeed an immense honour to be chartered with the responsibility of managing this business and for that I thank Mr Horne, Mr Campbell and the respective HRNSW Board Members, past and present, for their ultimate support. "Life is shaped by our experiences and with that I'm looking forward to the next phase of my life." HRNSW Chairman Mr Rex Horne praised Mr Nati for his contribution to the industry. "Naturally we're disappointed by Mr Nati's decision, but we respect and understand his reasons for wanting to pursue other interests. "Mr Nati always had the wellbeing of harness racing at heart and has overseen significant structural reform in a number of key areas including integrity and infrastructure. "He was particularly passionate about stimulating the grass roots sector of the sport especially around the smaller clubs and initiated a major expansion of the Breeders Challenge and the Carnival of Cups. "Most importantly he leaves HRNSW in a strong financial position, both in terms of our balance sheet and four consecutive budget surpluses. "On behalf of the Board I wish him the best with his future endeavours." Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |

It is with deep sadness that Harness Racing New South Wales advises the passing of Newcastle Harness Racing Club CEO Ross Gigg. Gigg was a popular figure not only in harness racing but all walks of life. A former Penrith first grade rugby league footballer, Gigg ventured into sports administration at the conclusion of his rugby league career, firstly with the Penrith Panthers then to Western Australia before starting his long tenure with the Newcastle HRC in 1992. He was a former Chairman of the Harness Racing Clubs Committee and more recently was involved with the Hunter Academy of Sport in the development of junior drivers. "We are deeply shocked and saddened by this news," said Harness Racing NSW CEO Sam Nati. "Ross was the heart and soul of the Newcastle Harness Racing Club. "On behalf of the HRNSW Board we extend our condolences to his family, friends and the club that he dearly loved." Ross passed away suddenly at his home overnight. Further information including funeral arrangements will be provided in the coming days. Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |            

There have been two significant milestones during the past week in relation to the Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) Infrastructure Plan during the past week. The Wagga Wagga City Council, at their meeting on Monday night, adopted the resolution to progress the sale of the identified land in North Wagga Wagga to HRNSW. The sale is subject to a development approval being granted for a new racing facility and centre of excellence in the Riverina. Additionally Council also resolved to give owners consent to HRNSW to lodge a development application on the Council owned land. Meanwhile, settlement for the land purchased by HRNSW in Burgmanns Lane for a new racing facility in Tamworth occurred as scheduled on Tuesday. The HRNSW Planning Proposal was recently placed on display and a report outlining the comments made in the submissions received is being prepared for the Ordinary Council Meeting on 27 May. "These are important outcomes for the modernisation of our infrastructure and the associated strategies aligned to it", HRNSW Chief Executive Sam Nati said. The HRNSW Infrastructure Plan includes new developments at Bathurst, Wagga, Tamworth and Menangle (Training Centre), upgrades at Penrith and Newcastle as well as other potential outcomes at ancillary facilities such as Hawkesbury. Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |  

Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) is excited to announce a three-year Breeders Challenge sponsorship agreement with the pre-eminent NSW nursery Pepper Tree Farm. Situated in the Lachlan Valley in the central west of NSW, Pepper Tree Farm was established by Rob and Julie Van Dyke in 1996. The substantial quality of horses bred at the stud since its inception is highlighted by four Australian 2yos of the Year; an Australian 3yo of the Year; six winners of the Group 1 Australian Pacing Gold; Victoria and NSW Derby winners; an Australian and Victoria Oaks winner and multiple Breeders Challenge and NSW Sires Stakes champions. Pepper Tree Farm Principal Rob Van Dyke said: "New South Wales has done a lot of positive things over the past few years so we are keen to show our support. "We have a good relationship with the controlling body and believe it is important to have a leading stud such as ours to sponsor the NSW feature juvenile race series. Pepper Tree Farm is very excited to be the sponsor for the ensuing three years." The introduction of the Breeders Challenge was a significant structural change to the NSW breeding industry. The incentives and initiatives associated with the Breeders Challenge have rapidly evolved over the past few years and now include the rich Major Race Series (including trotters), Regional Finals, Nominators (breeders) Cash Bonuses, Owners Bonus Certificates, Blue Series and Incentive Certificates. HRNSW CEO Sam Nati said: "It's immensely satisfying to have a stud such as Pepper Tree Farm associated with one of our most important brands. Rob and Julie are forward thinkers and pivotal to the development of the standardbred in Australia for almost two decades."   Dale Walker | Manager - Marketing | Harness Racing New South Wales                  

The HRA Executive recently established a Wagering Working Party to examine ways to improve harness racing as a wagering proposition, appointing Ross Cooper, as Chair, along with Sam Nati, Harvey Kaplan and Shane Anderson as Working Party members. The Working Party 'Terms of Reference' have been set to:   determine ways to grow wagering turnover on harness racing identify ways to broaden the appeal of Australian harness racing as a wagering proposition examine ways of making information more readily accessible to the punting public examine ways to attract and retain both new and existing customers All industry stakeholders and punters can contribute to the development of the Working Party's plans to address these critical objectives by participating in an on-line survey and in doing so, enter the draw to win a $500 betting voucher with the TAB of their choice. The Working Party will also consult directly with wagering operators, high value punters, syndicates, racing media, government and industry participants as part of this process. The survey will be analysed in aggregate format and no individual responses will be assessed. Notwithstanding the likely confidential nature of some information collected through this process, updates will be made available at regular intervals via www.harness.org.au. It is envisaged a report will be submitted to the HRA Executive in June 2014. Please click here to participate in the survey. For further information, please contact: HRA Chief Executive, Andrew Kelly on 03 9227 3000.

Commencing 1 July 2014 the Breeders Challenge Owners Bonus Certificates (BCOBC) will increase in value by 20% to $3,000. The Board of Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) made the decision at their monthly Meeting on Tuesday. HRNSW CEO Sam Nati said: "With the APG Sydney Yearling Sale scheduled for this Saturday we felt it was the ideal opportunity to make the announcement. "The Breeders Challenge is a very important brand for us and we have continued to add layers both to the value and the number of incentives associated with it", he added. Some of the key inducements for Breeders Challenge eligible and sustained horses include: · $3,000 Breeders Challenge Owners Bonus Certificates for the first "C" Class win as a 2yo AND 3yo. Any horse that doesn't win a certificate as a 2yo or 3yo is eligible to win one as a 4yo or older (Currently worth $2,500 until 1 July 2014). This is paid to the owner. · $3,000 Breeders Challenge Nominators (Breeder) Cash Bonus for the first "C" Class win as a 2yo AND 3yo. Any horse that doesn't win a Bonus as a 2yo or 3yo is eligible to win one as a 4yo or older. (This is the first year of the BCNB and applies only to 2yos in FY14, expanding to 3yos in FY15, etc). This is paid to the breeder(s) even if the horse has subsequently been sold. · The equivalent of 10% of first prizemoney for all 2yo, 3yo and 4yo Group 1 wins in Australia as an additional Cash Bonus to the Nominator. (This is the first year of the Nominators Bonus and applies only to 2yos in FY14, expanding to 3yos in FY15, etc). This is paid to the breeder(s) even if the horse has subsequently been sold. · The Breeders Challenge Major Race Series for 2yos, 3yos and 4yos (both sexes) with finals worth $125,000 each for 2yo and 3yos and $100,000 each for 4yos. · The introduction of a Breeders Challenge Trotters Series with Finals worth $30,000 each. (This is the first year of the Trotters Series and applies only to 2yos in FY14, expanding to 3yos in FY15, etc). · The Breeders Challenge Blue Series for 2yos and 3yos (both sexes) which is restricted to 100% NSW bred horses with Finals worth $50,000 each. · The Breeders Challenge Regional Finals for 2yos, 3yos and 4yo (both sexes) worth $20,000 each. · $500 Breeders Challenge Blue Incentive Certificates to offset the cost of a service fee of a NSW based stallion (conditions apply). For the full list of terms and conditions visit the HRNSW website and follow the links to the breeding section. In another exiting development for the Breeders Challenge, HRNSW will shortly announce a new major sponsor for the series. Nancy O'Grady | Executive Assistant | Harness Racing New South Wales |    

The line-up for the coverage of the TAB.COM.AU Inter Dominion Grand Final on Channel 9’s Wide World of Sport has been finalised. The panel will be spearheaded by popular sports journalist and presenter Yvonne Sampson who is a self confessed “horse lover”. She will be joined by fellow station star Emma Freedman along with industry experts Adam Hamilton and Greg Radley. Harness Racing NSW CEO Sam Nati said: “It’s exciting to have our greatest race showcased nationally on free-to-air television again in 2014. The broadcast of the Qualifying Heats as a dedicated package on Sky and the Grand Final on Channel 9 are very important to the objectives we set-out to achieve during our three-year tender”. The one-hour programme commences at 3pm (AEDT) on Sunday 2 March and will include live coverage of the Chariots of Fire and Inter Dominion Grand Final in addition to a feature colour story. “They are looking at doing the human interest piece on James Rattray and Beautide, but of course he still has to make it through to the Grand Final”, Nati said. Beautide is currently the Championship favourite and will start long odds on in Saturday night’s second Inter Dominion Qualifying Heat at 8.30 (AEDT).  

The following is an extract from the CEO's Note that appeared in the recent edition of the monthly HRNSW industry magazine which may contain broader points of interest. In recent weeks I have received an increasing number of questions relating to turnover on our product. For a long period of time the barometer for wagering has been the volume of money in the NSW TAB win pool. This has changed and continues to evolve. It has changed predominantly for two reasons; the first is the seismic shift to fixed odds which doesn't show up in the pari-mutuel pool and the second is the migration to corporate bookmakers and betting exchanges. The fixed odds offering (through Tabcorp) has been a revelation. On one level the huge explosion in racing content as a result of Sky 2 resulted in diminishing average pari-mutuel pools because the same volume of money was being spread across more races. As a result large bets were having a greater influence on tote prices creating wild fluctuations, especially on the minor codes. Punters can now lock in their price and it is becoming a growing customer preference. To provide the necessary perspective, fixed odds currently represents 30% of the total turnover on NSW harness racing through the NSW TAB. As fixed odds is essentially a win and place offering the impact on the pari-mutuel win pool is unmistakable. When analysing the wagering landscape further, two-thirds of turnover on NSW harness racing is through the various totes with NSW being the largest contributor at just under 50%. VicTab follows with approximately 23%. Those figures are inclusive of both pari-mutuel and fixed odds betting. The remaining one-third is wagered through Betfair and corporate bookmakers. Sportsbet is clearly the largest of our corporate bookmakers and, combined with Betfair, generates more than 40% of the turnover on NSW harness racing from this sector. Sportingbet and Centrebet, although separate entities, are owned by the same company and are responsible for a further 18-20% of turnover. Although much smaller in terms of total betting (on NSW harness), a couple of the newer players in the market such as Bet365 and Ladbrokes (AKA Bookmaker) are producing very strong growth in their year on year figures. Since the finalisation of the Race Fields litigation HRNSW has initiated regular meetings with our wagering partners. These occur on two levels. Firstly through the finance department to ensure compliance and secondly though me to discuss strategy. In recent meetings with executives from Betfair and Sportsbet, both were extremely positive about our product and how pivotal it is to their overall business. So while some sectors continue to talk down our industry, the message I'm receiving from our leading wagering partners is very different. It is an absolute fact that, strictly speaking, returns to the NSW racing industry from the NSW TAB are higher per dollar than from corporate bookmakers and Betfair, however the argument is much more complex and one that has largely become irrelevant. Race Fields fees are 1.5% of all turnover which increases to 2% for our premium meetings. To tie this data together, what does the original "vital" NSW TAB win pool KPI referred to at the start now represent? You can apply a general rule of thumb that whatever money is in the NSW TAB pari-mutuel win pool equates to approximately 10% of the total turnover on the race across all of our licensed wagering operators. So, for example, if the NSW TAB pari-mutuel win pool is $20,000 on a particular race then it's likely that around $200,000 has been bet in total and potentially more in the case of exotic pool jackpots. These numbers don't even include the New Zealand TAB and other international operators. To illustrate the point with a live example, at the recent Miracle Mile meeting, $501,000 was invested into the NSW TAB pari-mutuel win pools across the 10 races, which historically would be considered disappointing, but when compared to the total wagered across all bet types and operators of $5.6 million it represents only 8.9%. For the record, our highest grossing turnover meeting across all wagering operators since collating such data was the Inter Dominion in March where $9 million was invested. Nancy O'Grady    

This week on Trots TV Dale Walker chats to HRNSW CEO Sam Nati about new racetrack developments across New South Wales. Also, Bathurst CEO Danny Dwyer stops by to fill us in on how the new Mt Panorama facility is coming along with plans for a Grand Opening in September 2014. Looking to advertise on Trots TV? Please contact Dale Walker on 02 9722 6600 for further information. Trotstv.com.au - providing a fresh view on harness racing in New South Wales.

When the boss of harness racing called in a corrupt steward to confront him about race fixing, his employee allegedly told him: ''It's not like somebody's died.'' Harness Racing NSW chief executive Sam Nati also alleges the steward, Matthew Bentley, ''basically asked me, 'Why? Did you want to be in on it?' '' Mr Nati was giving evidence on Wednesday at the trial of the leading harness driver Greg Bennett, who has pleaded not guilty to six counts of giving or offering a bribe. To read the full article written by Rick Feneley feature writer foe The Age New South Wales click on ths link    

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