Turn it up! Big ideas needed

Dreams and hopes are what racing runs on and, like everyone out there, I have some of my own for the racing game.

We all have different ideas, but almost everyone wants to see a prosperous racing sector.

The great news is that right now there is more chance than ever that those dreams could come true.

A genie has arrived in the form of John Messara. As you all know, he is charged with reviewing the racing industry.

For me, the really fascinating part of his review is that there are absolutely no terms of reference or expectations for the report he will deliver to Minister of Racing Winston Peters.

That opens up massive possibilities.

Messara, one of Australian racing's most innovative businessmen and administrators, could recommend anything in his report.

What could be more exciting for any industry - especially when the report will be used to revitalise racing?

I am sure a man of Messara's calibre will quickly identify changes that could be made to maximise the industry's potential.

But with such a tight timeframe, surely he cannot inspect every last corner of the game here.

One would hope that those heading the codes and the New Zealand Racing Board would be identifying what needs changed and getting in his ear - not about the thing obvious things, but the big-picture ideas that could rapidly transform the industry.

To me, there seems to be almost no incentive for the small to medium-scale breeder to send their mare to stud.

The top end is much different, of course. The minister has again looked after them, with his tax breaks last week.

I would like to see a system which incentivises breeders or reduces the cost of breeding horses.

Horses need to be born each year for there to be a betting product to sustain racing.

I cannot see one tangible incentive to breed a horse in the under-$20,000 bracket. Yet it is exactly these kind of horses the industry needs in order for frequent racing.

Whether the incentive is a subsidy or a reward when the horses win their first race, I am not sure.

The reward for owners for providing the racing product is there with stake money.

There is now a further reward for the owner in harness racing - they pay you money when you run last.

The motivation is simple, they pay you to keep lining up and to sustain the horse population. 

Thoroughbred racing is not at that point yet, but with the foal crop declining it seems inevitable it will go the same way eventually - certainly by the time another revamp of the Racing Act occurs.

So, with the blank canvas now, why do we not consider sustaining the breeding of horses?

Even the act of making registration, branding and microchipping free would be a good step in the right direction.

Happy trails

Add a Comment