Wednesday 26 June 2019 turned out to be a big day in harness racing in this Country, with significant movement on two issues that have been hovering around for quite a while.
The first, and unquestionably the most significant, was the approval of a remit allowing the restructuring of the HRNZ Board. Such a move was floated by the then Board two years ago, when it was soundly rejected at the Annual Conference for reasons which were known only to those who voted it down. This time it received almost unanimous support from the same people! The new structure will consist of four members voted on by the Clubs and Kindred Bodies (including the Trainers & Drivers), a representative of the Auckland TC and the NZ Metropolitan TC, and two members to be chosen by a selection committee made up of an HRNZ Board member, NZ Racing Board (or whatever it’s going to be called in the future) member, and a recruiting consultant. As HRNZ CEO Peter Jensen put it, this should ensure that all necessary skills can be brought to the table to take the industry forward, be they male or female, and of any ethnicity.
This move, which was suggested (almost demanded) by the Messara Report and the Racing Minister, will bring harness racing into line with other racing codes and sporting jurisdictions who operate a similar structure.
The other announcement made on this date, was the abolition (well almost – for a trial period anyway) of the ‘art’ of discretion in our Handicapping System. Regular readers (both of you), will be aware of my personal, and that of the Association’s National Council, opinion that such a move is overdue, and will be welcomed by trainers and owners alike. No arguments, no allegations of favouritism or corruption – everyone will know exactly where they are as soon as their horse crosses the line.