• Patrick McBride

Racing shake up for the West Coast.

- Trots and gallops cut back.

- 43 fewer equine meetings.

Glenys Chmiel returns to the winners circle at Westport in March this year driving

Kensington Bill for trainer Robert Dunn.


Consultation with the racing industry on a revised racing calendar from August 2020 to July 2021, which reflects the significant impact of Covid-19 on domestic racing and the critical need for racing industry reform, is underway.

The implications of the pandemic on the TAB and the wider industry has necessitated an immediate overhaul of the original, ‘pre-Covid’ draft racing calendar. It looks at a reduction of total meetings, including 43 fewer equine meetings, and no betting licenses for 14 venues being used for any racing which had been previously allocated in the pre-Covid draft calendar. “The leaders of New Zealand racing have repeatedly talked over decades about change but not been courageous enough to address the critical need for venue intensification. Repeated reports on the industry, including most recently by John Messara, as well as the industry-led future venue plan have identified that there were too many racing venues and this was a commercial drain on limited industry resources. Covid-19 leaves us with no other choice but to act." Said Dean McKenzie, Executive Chair, Racing Industry Transition Agency.

For the Coast it is proposed that the March trotting meetings at Reefton and Westport along with Hokitika's, Westland galloping meeting held at Omoto in January be given the chop. Holiday racing has survived for now over the Christmas break in Westport, Reefton, Greymouth and Kumara. Brian Molloy, President of Reefton Jockey Club was surprised the January 7 meeting has been giving the green light.

"I tell you what, I'm shocked and delighted to know we are going ahead but I feel for the clubs that have missed out. I thought we were going to be dropped".

Molloy said there seemed to be no real structure to how they came up with the strategy pointing out the Messara Review had different opinions. Bernard Saundry, CEO, New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing said he recognised that the calendar for 2020-21 looks very different to previous seasons with fewer meetings at fewer venues. The industry cannot survive, let alone move ahead, if we try to fit 2020s racing into a mould which was created last century. The draft racing calendar has been released to racing clubs with consultation on the draft closing on 15 June. It is expected a final calendar will be released on 3 July, prior to the commencement of a new year of racing on August 1.



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