Racing: Revitalising Forbury Park the goal

Forbury Park Trotting Club general manager Zelda Jordan wants the public back on course at...
Forbury Park Trotting Club general manager Zelda Jordan wants the public back on course at Forbury Park. Photo by Matt Smith.
Getting the public back on course is one of the goals of Forbury Park's Zelda Jordan.

Jordan was appointed as Forbury Park Trotting Club's general manager last month, after acting in the role since May. She is now deep in the world of harness racing, having arrived at the club in May 2010 after 18 years in the health industry.

''I had had no background in horses at all,'' Jordan said.

''It was just another opportunity in an administration role - systems and processes and a new change.''

One thing that captured Jordan's attention instantly when she settled into her original role of office manager was the links forged between people in the industry.

''There are so many connections and periods of time people have been involved in it, and the family connection,'' she said.

It is that sense of family and community that could be the driving force to getting the public - be it punters or simply Dunedin people - back on course.

''We've just got so much scope. There's so much potential to reignite all those relationships we had with the community which had slipped away over time,'' Jordan said.

''It's a great facility that's under-utilised by the community as a whole but as a racing venue, people don't use it, either.''

The trotting club's focus is around race days, developing racing and improving the facilities, as commercial tenants have control over other facilities outside race days.

Many harness racing clubs around New Zealand have set up syndicates to bring new owners into the sport, and it is certainly an option for Forbury Park.

Jordan acknowledged the support Forbury Park has from owners and trainers, and is looking forward to developing incentive schemes to recognise their loyalty.

''It's not just about those who are training and driving. It's about spectators and owners and syndicates that people can get in at grass roots [level] without costing a lot of money,'' she said.

She wants to make sure it is affordable, ''something you do with your mates or colleagues and it doesn't have to cost a lot of money but you come down here and have a good time''.

Converting racing fans into members is also a challenge for Jordan and the management structure.

''We've missed out a whole generation of membership.

''We've got a lot of older people who have been here a long time and we don't have very many young people coming through, so it would be good to be able to get some passionate young people back into the industry again and get them back on course.''

Jordan has authority delegated to her by a board of management headed by chairman John Henderson, comprised of two independent appointments and one delegated committee member. Jordan grew up in Winton and has two sons, Tom (11) and Harrison (9).

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