Cri­sis meet­ing de­spite fund­ing an­nounce­ment

Matamata Chronicle - - What’s On - TIM RYAN

An an­nounce­ment la­belled ‘‘pa­thetic’’ by New Zealand Train­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Tony Pike is a 100 to one shot to stall the groundswell of dis­quiet in the New Zealand thor­ough­bred in­dus­try.

Amid great fan­fare, the New Zealand Rac­ing Board an­nounced it will pro­vide an ad­di­tional $4.77 mil­lion in fund­ing over the next two and a half years to sup­port the rac­ing in­dus­try.

The in­ten­tion is to im­prove stakes, ad­dress ag­ing in­fra­struc­ture and en­cour­age the en­try of young peo­ple to rac­ing.

In­dus­try par­tic­i­pants are ob­vi­ously un­der­whelmed by the an­nounce­ment and a cri­sis meet­ing has been called this Sun­day at Eller­slie prior to the high pro­file Karaka Mil­lion race­day.

It seems NZRB’s at­tempt to quell dis­quiet might back­fire and in­dus­try heavy hit­ters will be ask­ing some se­ri­ous ques­tions at Sun­day’s meet­ing.

While or­gan­is­ers are tightlipped about the meet­ing’s agenda it has been hinted that rad­i­cal ac­tion will fol­low if so­lu­tions aren’t forth­com­ing.

Rac­ing Board CEO John Allen an­nounced at Tren­tham on Satur­day that the pi­lot en­hance­ment funds have come as a re­sult of over­whelm­ing feed­back from the in­dus­try.

‘‘Last year I un­der­took a se­ries of con­ver­sa­tions around the coun­try speak­ing to those at the coal face of the New Zealand rac­ing in­dus­try and hear­ing their con­cerns,’’ Allen said.

‘‘I re­ceived a very clear mes­sage that this is an in­dus­try un­der sig­nif­i­cant pres­sure, many peo­ple are strug­gling and the in­dus­try re­quires in­creased fi­nan­cial sup­port now, which is why we have cre­ated these en­hance­ment funds to help ad­dress these is­sues.’’

In re­sponse Pike said the an­nounce­ment ‘‘is ob­vi­ously po­lit­i­cal’’ be­cause the NZRB is un­der pres­sure from in­dus­try par­tic­i­pants.

‘‘You would have to be naive to think it’s go­ing to be a big ben­e­fit.’’

Allen said more than $2.8 mil­lion will be made avail­able to tac­ti­cally boost stakes, with the aim be­ing to pro­vide greater re­turn to own­ers, train­ers, jock­eys and driv­ers, in turn at­tract­ing higher qual­ity rac­ing and im­prov­ing the over­all race ex­pe­ri­ence for in­dus­try peo­ple and pun­ters alike.

‘‘If you cut it all down it’s next to noth­ing,’’ Pike said.

The Youth De­vel­op­ment fund will aim to help build the next gen­er­a­tion of rac­ing by ap­ply­ing more than $645,000 to en­cour­ag­ing the de­vel­op­ment of ca­reer paths into and through the in­dus­try.

The in­fra­struc­ture en­hance­ment fund will help ad­dress ag­ing in­fra­struc­ture of race­tracks to im­prove safety, re­li­a­bil­ity and the on­course ex­pe­ri­ence, with more than $1.29 mil­lion avail­able across the in­dus­try over the cur­rent, 2017/18 and 2018/19 sea­sons.

‘‘The al­lo­ca­tion of fund­ing will be made in col­lab­o­ra­tion with all three rac­ing codes to en­sure they are in line with their in­di­vid­ual strate­gic plan­ning,’’ Allen said.

While NZRB has iden­ti­fied a num­ber of key ini­tia­tives which, once fully de­liv­ered will pro­vide an es­ti­mated $50-55 mil­lion in an­nu­alised net profit per year to rac­ing through in­creased dis­tri­bu­tions, Allen said he recog­nises that many in the in­dus­try need help right now.

‘‘While these in­vest­ments aren’t a sil­ver bul­let, they are an im­por­tant short term mea­sure to pro­vide the in­dus­try with some breath­ing space un­til the ben­e­fits of the key ini­tia­tives are re­alised.

‘‘It is also a clear sig­nal to the in­dus­try that NZRB will sup­port the long-term growth of rac­ing in New Zealand,’’ he said.

VINCE CALIGIURI

Train­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Tony Pike has la­belled an NZRB fund­ing an­nounce­ment ‘‘pa­thetic’’.

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