Turn it up! Messara review opens possibilities

The dust may have settled after the announcement that leading Australian racing administrator John Messara will conduct a full review of New Zealand Racing, but it will not settle for long. That much I can guarantee.

The exact parameters of the inquiry are unknown.

I have contacted Racing Minister Winston Peters' office to get more detail, but he is overseas.

We can only speculate on which corners of the racing industry Messara will investigate. But judging by some of his previous work and comments, we can get a fair idea of the way he would want to direct his review.

If you are in racing administration, particularly at the highest levels, your world looks set to be shaken up like an old snow globe.

Messara is one of the most successful figures in Australian racing. But unlike the Wallers and the Bowmans, his successes have been notched up away from the track.

Messara founded breeding powerhouse Arrowfield Stud, the home of a line-up of former champion sires including Danehill, Flying Spur and Redoute's Choice.

Though his stallions have changed the shape of Australasian breeding, it could be argued that Messara's influence as an administrator has had a bigger impact on the racing scene. Quite simply, the brilliant health of the booming Sydney racing scene with its bumper prize money can be directly linked to Messara's time as the head of Racing New South Wales.

However, his is a face that will be new to harness racing and greyhound people.

When he was in New Zealand for the national yearling sales at Karaka

in January, Messara said in a frank interview with a racing publication that if he had all power in New Zealand racing, he would take a blank sheet of paper and make a list of the industry's most crucial needs.

It is not too hard to figure out what the big things would be.

And it would not be too hard to figure out what may not make the list.

But Messara looks set to throw at least one massive curve ball. He has previously questioned the need for an organisation that governs all three racing codes - which in New Zealand is our racing board.

Right now it seems unlikely that the organisation would be wiped out,

but major restructuring looks inevitable, especially when you look at the likely course of events.

Messara will present a report to Peters recommending key structural changes to the industry which are likely to require changes to the Racing Act.

It is exciting that a whole new legislative landscape for racing in New Zealand could be created.

The only worry? Messara is a thoroughbred man through and through. Though he is obviously a highly professional individual, how will that impact his report findings?

I guess we will have to wait and see.

Happy trails.

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