Forbury Park pruned from calendar in ‘knee-jerk reaction’

Forbury Park dominates the foreground in this 2017 aerial view of Dunedin's south coast. PHOTO:...
Forbury Park. PHOTO: GERARD O'BRIEN
No racing this time.

Forbury Park Trotting Club (FPTC) has been pruned from the racing calendar.

The Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) is expected to release its draft calendar for this season at noon today.

But, hard as you might look, you will not find Forbury on the billing.

FPTC chief executive Della Henderson and chairman Craig Paddon met Harness Racing New Zealand chief executive Peter Jensen yesterday and were informed of the decision.

The racing calendar is subject to a submission process, which closes on June 15. But the decision to overlook Forbury has been based on the location of the horse population and wagering performance.

The club issued a highly critical statement of the agency, in which it underlined its bitter disappointment and frustration.

"It is the view of FPTC that this is a decision made by RITA on the fly, under self-induced pressure and without proper industry consultation and continues a history of ad hoc decision-making that has plagued the racing industry as a whole for years," it said.

"Although RITA has blamed Covid-19 for its most recent actions, the reality is the industry has been in strife for years.

"FPTC has been actively engaged in the Racing Industry Review that is currently before a parliamentary select committee and in our opinion, this was the correct and proper process to make final the final determination of racing venues around New Zealand, not the knee-jerk reaction we have experienced this week.

"The board and management team of the club await the release of the calendar, and will then enter a period of consideration and planning in regards to its response to the calendar and the future of the club and venue."

The agency, which runs the TAB, earlier this week welcomed news of a $72.5 million government emergency support package to prop up the ailing industry.

Racing Minister Winston Peters said the racing industry was "seriously underestimated for its important contribution to our regions and our economy".

Racing began at Forbury Park in 1870 and harness racing followed in 1909, so the location has a long history.

News of its snub will be keenly felt by Forbury Park stalwarts.


 

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