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Shocking, surprising and stunning is how I would sum up the unveiling of John Messara’s racing industry report on Thursday, wrties Jonny Turner.
And its impact should mean that August 30, 2018 will go down as the most monumental date in New Zealand racing history.
For the thoroughbred code, it should spell the beginning of its revival to something the country can be proud of.
Messara has a plan to double stakes — that news is probably better than even the wildly optimistic would have predicted.
There was little surprise that overhauling the New Zealand Racing Board and outsourcing the TAB were suggested as income boosters for racing.
Messara should be applauded for recommending New Zealand’s gambling levy be dropped, too.
If these combine to double racing revenue, then there is little doubt Thursday will be looked back on as a historic day and Messara will be lauded as a hero.
Instead of jumping up and down and cheering these positive moves, I am left pondering the very nature of the report Messara was charged with writing.
Because, let’s be honest, it is as bizarre as it is monumental.
Messara was charged with writing a report specifically focused on thoroughbred racing and he did a fine job.
His carefully considered recommendations will rejuvenate that code.
Hopefully, they will have some coincidental benefit for harness and greyhound racing.
Step back for a second and wonder how bizarre does it get that a formal, wide-ranging and landmark review talks to only one part of the racing sector?
Why were the harness racing and greyhound codes treated with utter disdain by Winston Peters, who set the brief for the review?
In what other bizarre universe could this possibly happen?
Would there be a car industry review that recommended ways to boost the sales of Toyotas and Nissans?
Would there be a dairy farming review that explains how to improve the milk production of Friesian cows, with no mention of other breeds?
Why not issue a directive to investigate three codes?
Why not make the whole racing industry — to steal a quote — great again!
Obviously, Peters and Messara have assured the two poorer codes they will be better off if the recommendations in the report are enacted.
I think they will be and I am excited about that prospect.
But I would have preferred a long list of strategies to boost both codes and as to how the racing industry as a whole can thrive.
I would have preferred a democratically elected government and their officials to have acted fairly towards each racing code. Why did that not happen?
There are plenty of sinister explanations that have been debated since the report’s release.
It’s the most obvious conclusion to be drawn — Peters favours the thoroughbred code and the people in it that have staunchly supported him.
If that is the case, it stinks.
But if it’s not, I am extremely intrigued to hear what the real reason is. I will wait patiently, like the harness and dog racing folk did for some good news in Hamilton on Thursday night. Hopefully, I get more answers than they did. Let’s end on a lighter note. How good was the question after Peters’ speech from the dog trainer asking if her greyhound was classed as a pet or a working dog.
That was gold. Happy trails.