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National Council



Differing Views

Well done to the ‘Box Seat’ crew for putting together a very interesting group of question answering sessions by Industry luminaries. There were good ideas, interesting ideas, radical ideas, and the odd idea from the past.

What the programme vividly illustrated was, how on earth can those on the HRNZ Board, love them or hate them, make decisions that are going to please everyone. The various conflicting opinions voiced in the programme, some completely opposite and often regionally based, prove that whatever happens in the harness racing industry, some people are going to moan, and as we know, it’s usually the moaners who get the most publicity. However, we live in a Country where many things are governed by a democratic process, and this game is one of them. Perhaps it isn’t the ideal way, and there are arguments to say that we would be better off with a ‘Benevolent Dictator’. However at present, accepting this concept will go a long way to pulling everyone together for the sake the survival of harness racing in this Country.

Speaking of democracy, the Trainers & Drivers National Council is scheduled to meet next Friday, including attendances by HRNZ Vet advisor Andrew Grierson, and the RIU’s Nick Ydgren. If anyone has any issue that they would like to be brought up at the meeting, don’t hesitate to e-mail them to the website, and they will be treated in a democratic fashion.

Pete Cook

Racing Industry Review

At last, something concrete and beneficial coming out of the Minister of Racing, a review of our ‘industry structures’.

While it’s easy to throw stones at our current administrators, especially when they don’t tend to see things the way you do, I have always had some sympathy for them, being hamstrung by an out-dated and rather poorly drafted Racing Act. How many other multi-million dollar industries have to operate under strict guidelines that were conceived in the first couple of years of the century? If they did, how many would survive.

Yes there have been a succession of very average administrators in the top Racing Board positions in that time, (for the record, the Association does not include the current incumbent in that list) but the underlying problem is that, in all codes, the people who are tasked with running the Racing Industry in this Country, cannot make any major decisions without checking with the grass roots, many of whom have no experience in large business whatsoever. I’m sorry, but the old adage of a ‘Conference of Clubs’ should have gone out the window decades ago.

While I’m a bit wary of a Thoroughbred breeder conducting the review, hopefully he can take an independent look at the entire game and make some hard recommendations, and maybe we can make some serious progress into the future for the benefit of all concerned.

Pete Cook

Change of Tactics

For those of you who don’t have much of a life and like a good chuckle, I suggest you have a read of a few Stewards Reports on the Harness Racing Australia website. The best ones are those surrounding the ‘Change of Tactics’ rule that they try to enforce over there.

Here’s a couple of examples, believe it or not, from the same race:

Matthew Craven, driver of Vapar Jack, was questioned in relation to the tactics adopted during the early stages where Vapar Jack was driven forward to lead before surrendering that position racing around the first turn to Night Ninja. Mr Craven explained that he was aware that connections had advised an intention of a change of tactics for the gelding to be driven less aggressive, however added that once Flaming Lucky was a late scratching following that change being advised he felt that there was a lack of early gate speed from runners drawn to his inside. Mr Craven added that after assessing the gate speed shortly after the start he elected to drive Vapar Jack forward and was able to lead. Mr Craven further explained he was able to gain cover relatively quickly racing into the first turn when challenged by Night Ninja. Stewards recorded that comments of Mr Craven and in doing so were mindful that following the change of tactics being advised there was a late scratching and after viewing the replays with Mr Craven, it did appear that only one runner drawn to his inside had sufficient gate speed, that being They Wantano (barrier 1). The panel was also mindful that at the first available option Vapar Jack was able to gain cover when leading immediately after the start.

Ellen Tormey, driver of Night Ninja (barrier 5), was questioned in relation to the tactics adopted on this gelding during the early stages when Night Ninja was driven forward, when of recent times when drawn wide on the track Night Ninja had been restrained. Ms Tormey explained after allowing Night Ninja to come out it was the intentions to find a position in the running line, however shortly after the start it appeared that Night Ninja would be unable to gain a position mid field. Ms Tormey explained that after it appeared that Night Ninja would be caught racing wide on the track in an endeavor to gain a position she elected to progress forward and was able to gain the lead racing around the first turn. Ms Tormey further added that following the scratching of runners to her inside this resulted in Night Ninja drawing barrier 5. In assessing the explanation of Ms Tormey and viewing the replays it was evident that Ms Tormey does not show vigour on her drive shortly after the start and allows Night Ninja to come across from barrier 5, it was further evident that Ms Tormey does look to her inside in an attempt to find a position mid field, however no positions eventuate. In assessing all these factors the comments of Ms Tormey were recorded as the panel were satisfied that there was no breach of the change of tactics rule.

Pretty much sums up in nutshell how daft the Rule is! Thankfully the Association has been assured that there is no appetite for the introduction of a similar statute on this side of the Tasman.

Pete Cook

Sires Stakes

Having been somewhat reluctant to take on the position of representing the Trainers & Drivers Assn. on the Sires Stakes Board, I left the first meeting I attended recently, with a far more positive attitude towards the organisation.

Particularly pleasing was the realisation that merely putting all resources into races for young horses was no longer acceptable, and, in my opinion, recent new incentives such as the ‘Uncut Diamonds’ series and more races for trotters, mark a significant step forward in the role of the Sires Stakes entity.

The following is a summary of some of the issues discussed at the recent meeting, put together by new Secretary, Martin Pierson.

Bonus System Attached to Uncut Gem Races for Sales Horses

• That a $5,000 Bonus, on each of the 3 Uncut Gem Races, be paid to the first eligible Sales horse who has been paid both the Vendor and Purchaser payments (Level S & T), to finish with this bonus to be paid directly to the owner.

Sires Stakes Series for Trotting Fillies

• That a Sires Stakes 3YO Trotting Fillies race is to tentatively be programmed for the 2018/19 season for $20,000 subject to Sponsorship, date placement & eligibility.

Office relocation

• The NZ Sires Stakes office will relocate to the new HRNZ premises on Birmingham Drive in mid May 2018 with contact numbers etc. remaining the same.

HRNZ I.T. Online

• Work is continuing with HRNZ to introduce an online NZ Sires Stakes payment system through My HRNZ but this could still be 12 months away.

Sires Stakes 3YO Rossland Races

• In conjunction with the Auckland Trotting Club and the HRNZ Handicapper, the NZ Sires Stakes Board is looking at enhancing these two races re dates and the ratings system.

Pete Cook







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