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The premier harness racing show, The Box Seat, is returning to our screens after its annual winter hiatus. The popular show returns right in the crux of the lead up to the New Zealand Trotting Cup and is again set to bring all the required information to the table on a weekly basis. But aside from the usual form analysis, opinion and discussion this season will see a new segment hit the screens involving two undeniable stars of the industry. Champion drivers, Dexter Dunn and Zac Butcher will lock horns in a season long battle, competing in a vast array of different competition throughout the course of the year. The Box Seat producer, Maryanne Twentyman said the idea was spawned while watching the pair handle their respective media requirements during the lead up to and during the Harness Jewels earlier this year. “They are clearly two very media savvy guys,’’ she said. “We feel they are great ambassadors for the industry and we were really keen to utilise them as much as we could. “I think it’s going to be great, hopefully everyone else does too.’’ Greg O’Connor, who holds the anchor role on the show alongside Mick Guerin and Craig ‘The Whale’ Thompson, was on hand to see the initial filming of the segment dubbed DD/ZB and was impressed with what he witnessed. “To be honest I probably went there wondering how it would all transpire,’’ he said. “But these two guys are incredibly competitive and it shows on the track and in this segment. “I think viewers are going to be really surprised by what they see.’’ Both Dunn and Butcher will feature weekly on the show, firstly in their competition but then also to look ahead to their weekend’s assignments. “The real bonus is that while you are getting to see a bit of what these guys are like off the track we are also getting an exclusive run down from them about the four or five days driving ahead of them each week.’’ It is the intention of the show to have all three presenters in the same studio each week as opposed to one in Christchurch and two in Auckland as has been the case in the past – bringing more stability to the shows normal functions each week. With over 60 years of industry experience between them, from administration to media to form analysis, the current panel is the best served to bring up to date happenings and make discussion of current events in the harness racing industry. O’Connor said it was about building on from the hard work over the past few years. “The show has made huge strides in recent years and it would be great to see that continue this season. “We are taking a real holistic approach to it and trying to bring in all facets of the industry as opposed to being purely a preview and review based show. “While those things are just as important it is nice to be able to get some variety in there at times and I think we managed to do that quite well last season with some of the more in depth profile pieces we did with various people.’’ The Box Seat begins on Wednesday night at 8:30pm on Trackside 1. Courtesy Of Matt Markham - Harness Racing New Zealand

WASHINGTON, PA, Sept. 23, 2014 -- Pecking for late racing room outside and inside, Cover Model finally found a seam and poured through to score in Tuesday's $88,600 Keystone Classic at The Meadows. Alexa Said took the other harness racing division of the stake for 2-year-old filly pacers. Cover Model was sixth near the three-quarters when Dan Rawlings slipped her off the cones into the outside flow. When cover took him nowhere, Rawlings guided Cover Model back inside and hunted room, finding it between horses. The daughter of Dragon Again-Fashion Sureal rolled home to triumph in 1:53.4, 2-1/4 lengths better than Special Package. Momas Got A Gun, a full sister to Little Brown Jug winner Limelight Beach, was third. "I came out because I thought the outside flow was good, but it wasn't going anywhere," Rawlings said. "I basically took a shot (inside), and a seam opened up. I wasn't planning on being buried like I was, but everything worked out." Douglas Lewis trains Cover Model for Frederick W. Hertrich III and CTC stable. Alexa Said roared three wide through the lane to prevail for Eric Ledford in a career-best 1:55.3. Pennsylvania Stallion Series champion Half Past Seven was second by a length while early leader Mistup Magic earned show. It was the first stakes victory for Alexa Said although Tye Loy, who conditions the daughter of Well Said-Niki Blue Chip and owns with Michael Lowe, said she easily could have several more. "She's had bad luck and bad trips," said Loy of his $18,000 yearling acquisition. "When you warm her up, you wouldn't think she could go in 2:30 the way she's lollygagging around. When she hits the gate, it's all business; she puts her game face on." In the $18,000 Filly & Mare Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Trot, Cowgirl Hall thwarted the challenge of Better Caviar and downed him by a length in 1:53.2. Major Athens saved show. Dave Palone drove for trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Jack Piatt III and Michael Rosenthal. The 5-year-old daughter of Cash Hall-Centerfold hall extended her career bankroll to $598,903. On Wednesday the Meadows Racetrack & Casino will offer a $5,000-guaranteed pool for its Pick 5 wager as part of the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Initiative. The Meadows added the “instant” guarantee after Tuesday’s Pick 5 was uncovered, resulting in a carryover of $1,239.74. Minimum wager for the Pick 5 (Races 12-16) is 50 cents. Since Pennsylvania law requires a minimum per-race wager of $2, a player wagering at the 50-cent level must bet at least four tickets. First post for Wednesday’s program, which features a $117,200 Keystone Classic for 2-year-old colt and gelding trotters, is 12:55 PM. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

The first race on the program at Methven today was blessed with three really smart 3 year olds and as expected they dominated the finish. McArdle Star, Highview Freedy and Until Further Notice all had their supporters prior to the race and all went well enough to justify that support. Highview Freddy from the Robert Dunn barn led easily from barrier one with Sam Ottley in the bike while the Jimmy Curtin trained and driven Until Further Notice settled three back on the inner from his second row draw. The Ken Barron trained McArdle Star with stable reinsman Blair Orange in the bike settled third last from his second line draw.. Sent forward three wide with cover by Blair with a lap to run, McArdle Star found the death seat with 900 meters to run and sat there until the 400 meters when he went up to eyeball Highview Freddy as they turned for home. Blair did little more than flick the reins at McArdle Star up the straight as he went on for an impressive debut win by 2 and 1/4 lengths from Highview Freddy who was just as clearly second. Until Further Notice cleared the pocket three back on the inner as they turned for home and ran on well for third but was 2 and 1/2 lengths from Highview Freddy at the finish. McArdle Star paced the 2300 meters on the grass in 3:02.3, a mile rate of 2:07.5 on a track rated as dead. Brought out of the 2013 Australasian Classic Sale for $30,000 by long time stable clients of Ken Barron in Steve Thompson and Grant Dickey, McArdle Star is as the name suggests is a 3 year old by McArdle from the talented Presidential Ball mare Star Of The Ball 1:56.1 ($68,647) The first foal from Star Of The Ball by Christian Cullen was named Two Twenty in reference to the fact he cost $220,000 at the sales. Why he didn't amount to much on the racetrack, the next two colts in Merv 1:53 ($67,763) and Macha 1:55.8 ($115,297) were well above average. The grand dam of Star Of The Ball is none other than the champion broodmare in Black Watch. McArdle Star looks to have inherited all the family ability and should be in for a profitable season judging by todays run. Harnesslink Media      

A lot of harness racing traditionalists will have been smiling with the announcement earlier this week that the Inter Dominion to be held in Perth in late 2015 will be staged under the old style format of three heats and a final over a two week period. The series will run over three heats in the first week  and then a gap of a week to the final which is  scheluded for December 11th 2015 for the huge stake of A$1,300,000. It is an optimum time of year for harness racing in Perth with just about all their major races for the better class horses held in the December/January window. The change in timing of the series fits in with the other changes to major races in Australia such as the Miracle Mile which has been moved to February. The historic dates have been discarded as the major Australian players have restructured the timing of the major races as we knew them to better suit their needs in 2015. You can't fault the bodies involved trying to find date structures that work better for the industry but there are some potential pitfalls. One thing they havn't taken into account  in all the changes is the dates structure of harness racing in New Zealand. New Zealands premier race every year is the New Zealand Cup meeting in November which is staged  on the second Tuesday of November every year. There is a whole week of elite level thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing based around that week and it is the biggest annual carnival in New Zealand by far. There is absolutely no chance of the date being changed so a clash with the Inter Dominion seems inevitable. The $600,000 difference in prize money would seem to be a pretty significant carrot  for Kiwis on the surface but as any Kiwi trainer who has taken horses to Perth knows its not quite as simple as that. Perth in December can be extremely hot and then some and a lot of Kiwis arriving in Perth take time to acclimatise to the local conditions. Some horses just don't cop it and it can affect a horses performance for the rest of that campaign  With the gap between New Zealand Cup week and the first round of heats being so small, the potential for problems is obvious. Last year Fly Like An Eagle had several runs leading into the New Zealand Cup week, two hard runs during Cup week and then tried to line up straight afterwards in the preludes to the Miracle Mile. The runs so close together flattened Fly Like An Eagle and he was very disappointing the rest of the season. And that is without considering the affect of the heat. Gold Ace went frrom Auckland to Perth and the heat didn't affect him one bit and he won the Golden Nugget. A Bit Of A Legend went for the Golden Nugget as well and raced poorly the whole time he was there due in the words of his caretaker trainer Brent Mangos,to the heat. So some Kiwi horses can handle the heat and some can't.  It is going to be hard enough for a lot of the Kiwis with the heat but the close proximity of the series to New Zealand Cup week makes it just about mission impossible. The West Australians are to be conglatulated for returning the Inter Dominion to its original format and for the huge stake money to be offered. It would be a shame if due to the timing issues involved it becomes light on New Zealand repersentation. Harnesslink Media

The leading New Zealand jockey David Walker was today found guilty on the charges brought by the Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) They claimed that Mr Walker placed bets on another horse to beat the horse he was riding in a head to head contest and then rode to ensure his horse was beaten. The charges were heard by the Judicial Control Authority (JCA), an independent statutory body established under the Racing Act. The JCA panel hearing the case were, Mr M McKechnie (Chairman) and Mr N McCutcheon. The JCA’s in its verdict disqualified Mr Walker for 7 years, and also charged him costs of  $ 3,000 ($1,500 to the JCA and $1,500 to the RIU). RIU General Manager Mike Godber said the RIU was very pleased with the result. “Mr Walker’s actions threatened the very fabric of NZ racing and the strong penalty applied by the JCA  panel sends a signal that the industry holds the integrity of racing at the highest priority.” “The message is clear, serious breaches such as this case will have severe consequences for those  involved.” “The Walker case serves to illustrate the effectiveness of the RIU’s systems of surveillance of racing and  betting and its investigation processes. These processes and the penalty imposed will act as a deterrent to anyone contemplating similar action Racing Inegrity Unit

Last weeks harness racing selections were a case of so near yet so far. Maurice McKendry, Terry Chmiel, Ricky May, Gerald O'Reilly and Nathan Williamson all nabbed winners while six others were placed, some at good odds. This week we have four meetings around the country and our selections are spread over those meetings and Maurice McKendry is shooting for three in a row at Auckland. Addington - Thursday Night Ricky May - Thinks Idolise is ready to win in race 4 Gerald O'Reilly - Likes King Of Strathfield to upset Stent in race 6 Sam Ottley - Rates Lovemetwotimes a big chance from barrier one in race 7 Terry Chmiel - Gives Betabcool a big tick in race 8    Invercargill - Friday Afternoon Clark Barron - Reckons Run Fatboy Run is overdue a winning turn in race 5 Brendon McLellan - Thinks Vera's Delight is due a change of luck in race 6 Nathan Williamson - Thinks Costa Del Magnifico will make a winning debut in race 8 Shane Walkinshaw - Very keen on first starter Jetsdream to win race 8 as well   Alexandra Park - Friday Night  Tony Herlihy - Likes Red Sky Night even from the second row in race 2 Steven Reid - Really rates Sirius Star to win race 3 Todd Macfarlane - Thinks Concorde can go one better than his debut second, also in race 3 Maurice McKendry - Rates The Royal Charger a big chance with the aid of the mobile in race 4 Josh Dickie - Very very bullish about the chances of Voluntad in race 5 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Rates Irish Whisper a big chance to win fresh up in race 6 Scott Phelan - Thinks Le Lua Invasion is overdue a win in race 9   Methven - Sunday Afternoon John Dunn - Thinks Highview Freddy can use barrier one to win race 1 Blair Orange - Rates McArdle Star from the on fire Ken Barron barn as also hard to beat in race 1 Matt Williamson - Reckons Davey's Gift is well overdue and should win race 2 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Rates the locally owned and trained Golden Desire a big chance in race 4 Brad Williamson - Thinks his fathers trained horse Kylie Castleton can win race 5   Harnesslink Media  

A field of eight lined up behind the starter in the featured harness racing event on Sunday afternoon (September 14) at Harrah's Philadelphia, a pace for winner's over $25,000 lifetime. The wagering public made Wake Up Peter (Brett Miller) the post time favorite, starting from post position five. At the start, Emeritus Maximus (Ron Pierce) got the first call off the wings, but his lead was short-lived, as Scott Rocks (Geo Napolitano Jr) brushed just beyond the quarter, which went in :26.1. After a second split in :28.1, Scott Rocks faced a challenge from the first-over Speed Again (Yannick Gingras). They battled to three quarters, which went in 1:21.3 (:27.1). Just beyond that point, Speed Again overpowered Scott Rocks, who folded up and finished last with the pocket-sitter Emeritus Maximus picking up the chase. At the finish, Speed Again narrowly held on to win by a nose, stopping the clock in 1:49.2, returning $11.60 to win. Emeritus Maximus finished second, while favored Wake Up Peter rallied for third. The winner keyed a $32.40 exacta. The trifecta paid $190.20, while the Superfecta returned $1,045.20. Speed Again is owned by Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, and Ctc Stables, and was trained by Ron Burke. by Mike Bozich, for Harrah's Philadelphia

Tabcorp Holdings Limited has again been ranked the global gambling industry leader in the annual Dow Jones Sustainability Index in 2014. Tabcorp has received this recognition for nine out of the last 10 years, positioning it ahead of other Australian and international wagering, casino and lottery operators. The company received a 100 per cent rating in the 'Promoting Responsible Gaming' category for the eight successive years. Tabcorp Managing Director and CEO, David Attenborough stated Tabcorp is committed to operating sustainably. “Tabcorp’s continued global leadership in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index is a testament to our commitment to a high standard of governance,” Attenborough declared. “Tabcorp operates its businesses with utmost integrity for the benefit of our many stakeholders, including investors, the racing industry and hotel and club partners. “We are proud to lead the way in responsible gambling in Australia and globally.” Of the criterion on which 23 companies from across the globe in the casino and gaming sector were assessed, Tabcorp received the top score in 11 of the 19 measures. The DJSI assessed Tabcorp across economic, environmental and social dimensions. In addition to promoting responsible gambling, Tabcorp's other leading measures in its sustainability ranking include stakeholder engagement, anti-crime policy/measures, brand management, corporate governance and talent attraction and retention. In the 2014 financial year, Tabcorp’s businesses generated more than $500million in taxes on gambling and income taxes paid and payable. Tabcorp is also the single largest supporter of the Australian racing industry, returning $735million last financial year. As proven during the past two years, Tabcorp is also a generous community sponsor – highlighted by their support of Victoria’s Charity Football Day, which raised an astonishing $29,000 for the Childrens’ Tumour Foundation.

All the “true harness racing participants” can hold their heads up high according to TAB.COM.AU Charity Day organiser Robbie O’Connell. Having received the last of the donations and fees yesterday, O’Connell was “stoked” to discover the total was well above the earlier released tally…furthermore it has ‘smashed’ last year’s amount. The inaugural event raised a terrific $14,000 for the Childrens’ Tumour Foundation, with O’Connell setting the target at $20,000 this year and was thrilled when the figure was sitting on $22,000 as of last week. “I was rapt when we were floating around $22,000 as that was 50 per cent up on last year,” O’Connell declared. “But now with all the money in, I just can’t believe the total….I’m stoked beyond belief.” Thanks to generous sponsors, players and spectators, the event has raised a truly amazing $29,000, which clearly outshines the $18,000 the foundation receives from the government each year. “I just can’t believe it,” O’Connell said. “Thanks to the true harness racing participants and so many generous sponsors, we have eclipsed our target amount by almost $9000. “It just proves what those in harness racing who are willing to give and go out of their way just a little can achieve.” Already planning next year’s event, which will again be staged at Bendigo, O’Connell revealed the money will be split between four childrens’ charities. “Next year we will be sharing the money to four charities,” O’Connell explained. “The entire thing is about helping children and there are so many in need of that help. “The four charities will be ones that have touched harness racing families, as when it comes down to it, we are all one big family and therefore it affects us all. “Through the footy days I have discovered trainers, drivers and owners with children who are hampered by illnesses I’ve never heard of let alone experienced. “With that in mind, the aim as of next year will be raising awareness and much needed funds for a variety of charities, which can hopefully lead to a cure, or at the very least, the publicity required to enhance their cause. “So I’m giving everyone fair warning….if you’re a player start training as there are no excuses, if you’re in a position to sponsor we’d love to hear from you and if you’re a supporter, bring your wallets!” PAUL COURTS

The Geauga County Fair is the oldest fair and best kept secret in Burton, Ohio. The fair celebrated its 192nd anniversary in 2014.   The hospitality extended to the horseman and fairgoers is second to none. Although the horses were in short supply, the purses were abundant.   The single day of harness racing action went post ward on Saturday (August 30). Purses were in the excess of $42,000 for the afternoon eight-race program. It was a profitable day for all horsemen.   Another honored tradition at the fair, are the half mile Amish races. The local Amish community bring their horses to compete in the two $300 heats with hopes to return in the $400 final. As always it was a huge success and definitely a fan pleaser.   The fair board wants to say thank you to all horsemen who participated and supported this year's fair and look forward to another great fair in 2015. By Terri Mt.Pleasant    

It was a case of mixed emotions at Victorian harness racing’s biggest social event – TAB.COM.AU Charity Football Day – at Bendigo yesterday. As a high, the Melton girls cleaned up in the Aldebaran Netball Cup, but on the downside, the Melton fellas were smashed on the Tabcorp footy field. Melton is yet to win from four starts…the only team still waiting to enjoy a taste glory! On the opposite end of the scale, the skill and agility of the netballers placed them in a class of their own as they rocketed to success. Multiple Group One winning reinswoman Kate Gath was the recipient of the Yirribee Stud Most Valuable Player Award. Gath’s football counterpart was Heath Barton, who enjoyed double success as a member of the triumphant Shepparton squad. After dispensing of Ballarat in the opener, Shepparton then accounted for defending champions, Bendigo, to hold the Tabcorp Premiership Cup aloft. Tobey Courts,11, earned an honourable mention after booting four goals, including three against Ballarat. Away from the fun and games, the event had a serious side – raising awareness and valuable funds for the Childrens’ Tumour Foundation. Thrilled with the wide spread involvement, organiser Robbie O’Connell declared both ‘goals’ were achieved by the 500-strong crowd. “The amount of publicity this day has generated has certainly helped raising the awareness of the cause,” O’Connell said. “Anyone in harness racing would have to have been living in a cave not to have known about the day and what it’s all about. “And I’m thrilled to say we eclipsed last year’s total and even bettered our target amount in money raised. After $14,000 last year we were hoping for $20,000 this time, but we’re sitting on $22,000 at the moment. “Everyone involved, be it sponsor, helper, player or spectator can hold their heads up high…well, except for the Melton footy team!” There were also plenty of fun activities for the kids throughout the afternoon, as they enjoyed the jumping castle, little athletics competition and the free Auckland Reactor soccer and footballs thanks to Alabar Bloodstock. Alexa Astin and Will Janky were big winners after scoring bikes thanks to Amart Sports Melton by guessing the amount of snakes in a jar. “I couldn’t believe Alexa guessed the exact amount,” O’Connell said. “I thought I was clever not making it an obvious amount like 125 or 120, so I left it at 123. “According to Alexa’s dad her guess was simple, she counted them one, two, three, so he wrote that down! “Overall if was a terrific day, everyone had fun and we achieved our goals thanks to the sponsors, the helpers and every person who came and participated in the spirit of it all.” PAUL COURTS

TAB odds-makers lure in punters with the promo slogan: "You know the odds, now beat them". But less than three months before New Zealand's biggest betting day - the November 4 running of the Melbourne Cup - they have cracked down on a Kiwi punter who has excelled at doing just that. TAB executive general manager Glenn Patrick recently wrote to Christchurch man Graham Beirne that the betting agency was losing "a significant amount of money" on his fixed odds betting, so it had to adjust the amount of money he could win. In a move which the 67-year-old hit out at, he can now not win any more than $2000 on a win or place bet, and cannot win any more than $2000 even on a combination multi. He must also place all his bets by 9.30am on respective race days. "It's more like, ‘You know the odds, now beat them. But if you do, we'll cut you'," a fuming Beirne said. "On the one hand they're complaining about leakage - don't bet overseas, they say, but you can only back losers in New Zealand - ‘You can play in our sand pit but only if you lose'." Beirne owned Kate's First when it won the 1997 Auckland Cup. He has been a passionate supporter of harness racing for more than 50 years. But the TAB's stance had him questioning his future support for the industry in New Zealand. "I put $1 million into the industry every year through 25 racehorses, plus broodmares and sponsorship, but I'm at the point of thinking of selling the lot and going and playing bridge," he said. He added in a written response to Patrick and the TAB: "The owners that continue to race horses are supplying the product for your customers to generate turnover. Have you also considered that while my past betting has cost you money on fixed odds, every time I line up a horse in a race it is making you money on the tote? "No doubt you also have other large winning customers but how many of these people contribute product for your customers to be on to the degree that I do? I would suggest none." Beirne had offered a compromise over betting limits, but the TAB had rejected it, he said. Patrick told the Sunday Star-Times it was standard practice around the world for corporate bookmakers to restrict winning punters. He believed the way the TAB was treating Beirne was fair and reasonable. He would not confirm how many other punters had similar restrictions. "One of our objectives under the Racing Act is to maintain a profitable wagering system and we need to take that obligation seriously," he said. "There will be clients who have better information than us, or who are better than us, that we will need to put limits on." Courtesy of Barry Lichter - Sunday Star Times

The Queensland harness racing industry will be on the receiving end of a 16 per cent prizemoney boost from October 1 this year as part of a funding windfall for the state's three racing codes. Addressing an industry briefing at Deagon this week, Queensland All Codes Racing Industry Board Chairman Kevin Dixon said Racing Queensland had delivered on its commitment to improve the returns for participants of all codes in the wake of the new wagering deal. “This is a monumental occasion for the Queensland racing industry. We have now provided an opportunity for every participant in the state to increase their returns through significant increases to prize money allocations in all codes,” Mr Dixon said. “For years, the Queensland racing industry has been lobbying for more prizemoney and we have delivered that today in a way that ensures each code and region benefits from the increases. “Based on the increases coming into effect on October 1, overall prizemoney year on year will increase by 50 per cent for greyhounds, 20 per cent for thoroughbreds and 16 per cent for harness racing. “These improvements were devised with a new allocation strategy, which determines prizemoney based on each code’s individual revenue less the costs they incur. This means when one code is performing well, they will directly benefit from their success and not be impacted by other codes.” The key improvements from October 1, 2014 are: Harness Non-performing Monday meetings have been removed form the schedule and those races have been absorbed by other meetings, and will receive a prizemoney increase of 50% from $2,000 to $3,000. Prizemoney offered at Saturday Metro meetings increases by 19 per cent, highlighted by CMO races increasing 50% to $12,000, and 2nd Division Q0/Q1/Q2 increasing 33% to $8000. Similarly, prize money at Tuesday Metro will increase by 27.5 per cent and Friday Metro by 39% Increase to provincial prizemoney at Redcliffe on Wednesday nights by 52 per cent with a number of races now worth $5000. Mr Dixon said the new wagering deal with Tatts Bet had paved the way for the prizemoney increases, which would only be amplified by the recent improvements to QTIS and soon-to-be announced improvements to the other breeding schemes. “Once the wagering deal was finalised, we were able to look at the big picture and determine where we could invest and expend that money to give our participants the best possible return on their investment,” Mr Dixon said. “The best part of the new deal is, though, that if the racing industry pulls together and performs, increases like these will continue to flow in the future. “Prizemoney was the obvious and most sought after improvement, and now we will work closely with our stakeholder groups to ensure future allocations of funding continue to address the needs of the industry.” Minister for Racing Steve Dickson said the increases to prizemoney marked a major milestone in the Government’s commitment to reinvigorate the racing industry in Queensland. “Prizemoney increases in all three codes across the state have always been the goal and today we have seen just how bright the future is for our participants,” Mr Dickson said. The new prizemoney structure has been achieved because of the terrific wagering deal recently secured with Tatts, and builds on the success of the first phase of our infrastructure strategy, and the stabilisation of the administrative part of the organisation. “The reinvigoration of the industry is well underway and we will continue to work with Racing Queensland and industry participants to ensure it continues.” Racing Queensland  

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

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

The 3 YO Maryland Standardbred Fund stakes started the evening with the non wagering filly trotters going for a purse of $28,900.    Explosive Attitude(Explosive Matter) and Kelsey's Commando(Cr Commando) renewed their rivalry from July only this time Kelsey's Commando was able to catch Explosive Attitude coming down the stretch, stopping the clock in 2:00.2 last quarter in :29.2. Victor Kirby drove and trained the filly for new owners George and Rose Bonomo.   The wagering card started with the 3 YO filly pacers. Driver Tony Morgan sent Ain't No Maybe So(Nuclear Breeze) charging right to the front with a first quarter of:27.1. The Lundell entry of Valentina De Vie and Rosie De Vie sat second and third just waiting for the right moment. Jonathan Roberts pulled Valentina De Vie(Bettor's Delight) in the last turn quickly overtaking the leader winning in 1:55.3. Ain't No Maybe So held on for second and Rosie De Vie finished third. Valentina De Vie is owned by the Joie de Vie Farm.   After race 3 the Maryland Horse Industry Board presented Ocean Downs Racetrack with a Secretary's Citation from the State of Maryland in honor of the track's 65th Anniversary. MHIB also presented track owner William Rickman with a Secretary's Citation in honor of his many contributions to the harness racing industry over the year.   In the colt/gelding trot Kandy Korn(Cantab Hall) got away 6th but driver Frank Milby pulled before the half, working his way up to the leader Whichwayrightorleft near the ¾ pole. These two battled down the stretch with Kandy Korn crossing the wire in 1:59.4 for owners Bruce and Tanya Schadel.   The most exciting race of the night was the 3 YO colt/gelding pace. In usual fashion driver Corey Callahan sent Tom's Titan(Cam's Rocket) to the lead with new comer Kingofthejungle(Well Said) getting the pocket trip. At the head of the stretch Tony Morgan pulled Kingofthejungle and the two charged down the stretch head and head with Kingofthejungle winning by a head in 1:53.4 last quarter in :27.4. Desyllas Racing LLC , William Beck and Carol Rieken own and Brandon Simpson trains.   By Cheri Stambaugh  

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