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