Racing: 'Sound' result for Otago RC despite difficult circumstances

Otago Racing Club president Dean Lawrence has one request for this season - a little less rain, please.

Lawrence, who was re-elected unopposed as president at the club's annual meeting last night, rued the bad weather which plagued the first half of his maiden tenure as he presented his annual report to the committee at Wingatui last night.

The loss of a race meeting due to bad weather at the start of last season got the club's season off on the wrong foot and the bad luck continued with wet and cold conditions on Melbourne Cup day and Boxing Day, Lawrence said.

''I am a wet-weather president and I've got that reputation,'' Lawrence said after the meeting.

''But things are looking very positive - the sold-out sign is literally ready to go up on Melbourne Cup Day and Cromwell is getting really big. We're really looking forward to that.

''Certainly in Otago and Central Otago, both days are eagerly anticipated, and that has to be good - not just for the clubs, but the region as well.''

The loss of the race meeting at the start of last season had put the club $12,000 behind straight away, although New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing provided $8000 in compensation by July this year.

The club ended with a net deficit of $18,560 prior to depreciation which Lawrence said was a ''sound result given the circumstances we have endured''.

Those circumstances included a massive reduction in gaming revenue.

Combined revenue from gaming grants totalled $501,162 in 2011-12 but was reduced to just one grant of $5000 in 2012-13. It was received from the Lion Foundation and went towards fencing the car park.

''Unfortunately, that's going to be the way of the future,'' Lawrence said.

''It was almost a test case for us and what it's proven is it's going to be very hard to operate in the future.''

Despite bad weather for some meetings, other meetings exceeded expectations - in particular the club's premier day in early February which reached almost $200,000 in on-course turnover.

''We had a great Champions Day [on February 2] which pulled it back a bit and we're gaining more revenue out of the function centre, and we see that as an opportunity moving forward.

A draft constitution, which is intended to update the club's current constitution, will go before a special general meeting at a date to be announced. The committee decided to allow more time for members to offer feedback on the new document.

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