Once again, a disappointing crowd assembled recently for the Greater Canterbury Branch Annual General meeting.
Chair Ken Barron felt that the current handicapping system was now generally accepted, with most of the changes from the original simple plan having been altered or removed. He voiced concern at the influence that the HRNZ Handicappers had on decisions made by the Sub-Committee Jason Broad was to present amendments to the next Sub-Committee meeting involving two year olds, to offset the recent drop off of numbers in that age group. Colin DeFilippi felt that there should be a limit to how low a highly rated horse should be allowed to drop back, so that horses with limited ability were not having to race against those who had won a large number of races e.g. Highland Reign. It was agreed that there were still issues surrounding programming and the discretionary influence of the Handicappers. Mark Jones questioned whether consideration was being given to allowing Junior Concessions for all races.
Various aspects of the Messara Report were discussed, including proposed track closures and the selling of the TAB. Those present felt that much of what was outlined in the report had been done without the necessary background investigation, and it would be interesting to see how much of it came to fruition.
Concern was once again voiced at the lack of horsemanship skills being shown by Cadet Scheme graduates. Ken Barron felt that this may be due to the influence of the government ITO policies, which took preference over hands on and practical experience. It was reported that senior horsemen had offered their services to help in this regard but these offers seem to have been rejected. This matter would be referred to the National Council.
Various aspects of Operation Inca were discussed, including the involvement of the RIU in police interviews, the part that the Minister of Racing played in instigating the inquiry, the costs involved, and the accuracy and flaws in a number of the allegations.
Concern was expressed at the recent cases of excessive cobalt levels, which seemed to be due to no fault of the trainers. Once again, the publication, or access to, levels was requested, so that situations that amounted to entrapment could be avoided in the future. This matter will be referred to the National Council.
Various incidents concerning starting procedures were discussed.
The Association has been made aware of a possible issue with the length of horse floats. Apparently new regulations have been introduced which affect the carrying of carts on the back of floats and, due to this, it may be necessary for them to be transported in a separate vehicle to race meetings.
I know this sounds rather vague and almost strange, but it might become an issue with floats being checked, in particular those travelling through Amberley on the way to Kaikoura in a couple of weeks. I understand that transport operators are investigating and attempting to clarify the new regulations, but in the meantime all we can do is be cautious.
The Greater Canterbury Branch is holding its’ Annual General Meeting next Tuesday 9 October in the restaurant at the Yaldhurst Hotel commencing at 2pm. Finger food will be provided, so don’t have a big (if any) lunch!
All license-holders are welcome to attend.
At a time when harness racing is in a state of flux, another grenade was tossed into the mix with the announcement from Edward Rennell that he was standing down from his position as CEO of HRNZ in December.
Having been in the position for as long as most can remember, it will seem rather odd to not see his face and words, or hear his voice commenting on various happenings, but there is one thing for sure, Edward has given his all to the role while he’s been there. Unlike many CEO’s, the organisation he heads does not employ the people it governs and represents, the likes of trainers, owners and breeders. Not only that, but with HRNZ being made up of Clubs, trying to please, placate or satisfy everyone involved is simply an impossibility.
Despite that, Edward has always presented a reasoned, positive and, when needed, unflappable (at least on the surface) persona, through some pretty difficult and sometimes rocky, times in the Industry. Of course he’s been criticised, what CEO hasn’t, but through it all he has quietly and efficiently gone about his job with an unquestionable passion, and genuine caring that will be a lasting legacy. Sometimes he has drawn comment that he spends too much time listening to those who ring or approach him personally to air their opinions, something that many CEO’s would not put up with. Like I said, he was never going to please everybody.
Never one to seek publicity, I know, just through my dealings with him, that there have been literally countless times that he has helped industry participants in difficulty or with problems. These actions have never been made public, giving the impression to some that he has been inactive, which could not be further from the truth. You only need to read the press release put out by Harness Racing Australia following the announcement that Edward was stepping down (http://www.harness.org.au/media-room/news-article/?news_id=38341) to understand the extremely high regard that he was held in by his fellow administrators, both here and overseas.
In my opinion, Harness Racing in this Country has been unbelievably well served by Edward Rennell, and it will be interesting to see how his successor approaches the job, and whether he or she can garner the same respect in the job from our often fickle industry. It won’t be easy.
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