New chair­man has deep ties to club

Matamata Chronicle - - Breeders’ Stakes - By TERESA HAT­TAN

Den­nis Ryan has al­ways been keen on horses.

The newly ap­pointed chair­man of the Mata­mata Rac­ing Club has been in­volved with the club com­mit­tee for more than 15 years. He has also trained horses and is the edi­tor of rac­ing pub­li­ca­tion The In­for­mant.

Ryan says he’s sim­ply do­ing what he thought was his bit for the lo­cal rac­ing club and the com­mu­nity.

He was vice pres­i­dent of the club for five years un­der John Moore, who he says was a very good pres­i­dent who led the club with skill and good vi­sion.

‘‘I hope to con­tinue that to en­sure the club con­tin­ues to pros­per.’’

Ryan has strong fam­ily links to the rac­ing club, with the first pres­i­dent of the Mata­mata Rac­ing Club in the early 1920s be­ing his great grand­fa­ther, Paddy Quin­lan.

Since those days, Ryan says the club has en­dured many changes.

In the early days the club only cel­e­brated one an­nual race meet­ing a year but this sea­son it will host a to­tal of 16 race meet­ings on course in­clud­ing this week­end’s J Swap Con­trac­tors Mata­mata Breed­ers’ Stakes.

Ryan says there are two sides to the rac­ing club’s busi­ness, race days and the train­ing fa­cil­i­ties. ‘‘One is as big as the other. We do have good sup­port from the na­tional body, New Zealand Thor­ough­bred Rac­ing, who recog­nise us as a strate­gi­cally sig­nif­i­cant venue, both as a race day venue and as a sup­plier of race horses.’’

An ex­am­ple of this recog­ni­tion was the fi­nan­cial in­put the na­tional body had with the re­cent im­ple­men­ta­tion of the ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem on the course proper.

There were 399 win­ners trained out of Mata­mata last sea­son, with eight Gr.1 win­ners out of a to­tal 22 Gr.1 races amongst those.

‘‘And just as im­por­tantly we sup­plied nearly 12 per cent of the na­tional starters in New Zealand rac­ing across the board,’’ Ryan says.

The train­ing fa­cil­ity em­ploys a sub­stan­tial num­ber of peo­ple and as a whole, Ryan says it’s a large op­er­a­tion with more than 50 train­ers based at the site. ‘‘It’s a fairly vi­tal part of our lo­cal econ­omy.’’

It’s a chal­lenge for Ryan, plus the vol­un­teers and man­age­ment team, to make it all hap­pen.

But he says it helps to have such a strong sup­port net­work from the lo­cal busi­ness com­mu­nity, in par­tic­u­lar J Swap Con­trac­tors, who are an ob­vi­ous ex­am­ple of this sup­port.

But Ryan says there are also many oth­ers, both large and small, who par­tic­i­pate in spon­sor­ship with the club’s rac­ing.

Those that at­tend the races are also a huge sup­port to the club. ‘‘There is a lot hap­pen­ing in Mata­mata and the rac­ing in­dus­try and the rac­ing club is cer­tainly part of that.’’ Mata­mata Rac­ing Club has had a change in con­sti­tu­tion as it ap­proaches its cen­te­nary.

The con­sti­tu­tional doc­u­ment, dated 1925, needed a ma­jor over­haul.

The days of large num­bers of vol­un­teers has gone, with peo­ple be­com­ing time poor.

Newly ap­pointed Mata­mata Rac­ing Club chair­man Den­nis Ryan says the rac­ing club must be run as a busi­ness with good gov­er­nance. ‘‘It was a big project that re­quired sional ad­vice.’’

The change in con­sti­tu­tion was in­tro­duced to the club in Oc­to­ber and from that point the club has been man­aged by a seven-mem­ber board with sup­ple­men­tary sub- com­mit­tees. Most pre­vi­ous com­mit­tee mem­bers have con­tin­ued with their work at the club.

‘‘ One would hope the new board struc­ture will pro­vide an in­cen­tive for peo­ple to rise to


pro­fes- that level in the club struc­ture be­cause it is an im­por­tant part to play by each board mem­ber, how­ever, those in the next tier down also make a con­tri­bu­tion.’’

Ryan says the train­ing fa­cil­ity at the rac­ing club has a $ 1 mil­lion turnover, led by course manager Graeme Styles and eight full­time staff. An av­er­age of 750 horses use the track each month. ‘‘ We’re lucky to have Graeme lead­ing that side of the busi­ness,’’ Ryan said.


CHAIR­MAN: Den­nis Ryan is chair­man of the Mata­mata Rac­ing Club.

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