Online survey may shape fate of tracks

John Allen.
John Allen.
Racing participants could decide the fate of country racetracks through an online survey.

The heads of the TAB and the country's three racing codes announced yesterday they are seeking feedback that will help shape future plans for where races are held.

The New Zealand Racing Board, New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, Harness Racing New Zealand and Greyhound Racing New Zealand hope to create a strategic plan for the country's racing facilities from the survey's results.

The contributions will be used to develop a draft venue plan for the future, which will be open for consultation in mid-2018.

''The pace of change and the challenges affecting racing have been rapid over recent decades and show no signs of slowing down,'' NZRB CEO John Allen said.

''Many racing venues have significant infrastructure challenges, including unreliable racing surfaces and deteriorating on-course facilities for both racegoers and our customers and communities.''

The thoroughbred code has been hit hard by sub-standard tracks and abandoned race meetings, but the code would be unable to solve those problems on its own, NZTR CEO Bernard Saundry said.

''The scale of investment required is not an issue that can be solved by the NZRB, one code, club or region.''

Last week's announcement from Racing Minister Winston Peters was welcome news, but was a separate issue to deciding future plans for existing tracks, Saundry said.

''The work we do on the Future Venue Plan will support this initiative. It will be a separate process undertaken in partnership with the minister and will not be dependent on the outcome of this feedback process.''

Driving more efficient use of industry money into safe facilities was an important outcome for the Future Venues scheme to achieve, HRNZ chief executive Edward Rennell said.

''We need to invest in the right racing, trialling and training infrastructure that will drive greater efficiency and sustained growth over the next five, 10, 15-plus years, while creating the safest possible environment for our animals and modern facilities for racing participants, customers and communities.''

The survey is open for submissions until April 13.


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