Draft 2020-21 Racing Calendar Announced

Date: 15 May 2020

Draft 2020-21 Racing Calendar Announced

The Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) and New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing today released the draft calendar for the new season - notable in racing being programmed closest to horse populations. A number of venues did not receive dates for the new season - below the release from NZTR ...


The proposed calendar for 2020/21 has been released today by RITA for consultation, as required under the Racing Act.

“Every thoroughbred racing club in New Zealand has a history and a part to play. NZTR has done significant work over the past 18 months on a venue plan which will future proof the racing industry,” New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) CEO Bernard Saundry said.

“We recognise 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 and fit 2020s racing into a mould which was created last century.”

The proposed changes in the 2020/21 calendar acknowledge the need to provide a more efficient footprint of venues, which deliver cost savings to owners with meetings held closer to the horse populations.  There are also significant cost savings to RITA in the servicing of meetings at these venues.

“NZTR's venue plan took into account a number of factors and, among them, was the introduction of All Weather tracks.  With the Cambridge All Weather track on schedule for use next season, the commitment from government of up $20m to build additional All Weather surfaces at Awapuni and Riccarton will also impact on future racing dates,” Saundry said.

The proposed meeting numbers in the draft calendar represent a 17 percent decrease in meetings since 2009 (from 328 to 273).  During the same period there has been a 17 percent decline in individual starters, from 5826 to 4812.

“Our dwindling foal crop, which has dropped 28 percent since 2005, has resulted in a smaller pool of horses and even before COVID-19 the reduction in races was not keeping pace with the number of horses available to race.

“Nationally the average field size has fallen from 11.12 to 10.49 in 2019 and will have declined further by end of 2020.

“These figures are the stark reality of New Zealand's available thoroughbred racing crop,” he said.

“We understand that there will be some who find it difficult to accept that racing may no longer continue at their local venue.  We also understand that an argument could be made for the survival of each individual venue, but where would that get us? At this time it is important everyone takes an industry-wide view and not consider venues in isolation,” Saundry said.

While the draft calendar is aligned with NZTR's Venue Plan and the recommendations of the Messara Review, it has been released for a consultation process which concludes on 15 June.

Among the considerations taken into account was the need to recognise the uniqueness and wide appeal of some country venues.  This also aligns with the principles of the NZTR Venue Plan and the expectations of the Messara Review.

“The New Zealand racing industry has been described as being at a crossroads for many years and it is apparent we cannot sustain the number of venues we currently have, and the draft calendar simply reflects this economic reality,” Saundry said.

“Tough decisions have to be made and this was signalled by the Racing Minister in his delivery of racing's emergency rescue package earlier this week.  We owe it to the industry, all those employed in it, those stakeholders who rely on it for their income and the owners and punters who support it, to make these decisions,” he said.

“While most in the industry know we have too many venues a parochial outlook has crippled any serious action being taken to reduce them.  COVID-19 has forced what countless Royal Commissions, and Ministerial Reviews, including the Messara review, have recommended,” Saundry said.

“Those clubs which may now find themselves racing at a different venue should take inspiration from Feilding and Beaumont.  Both of these clubs have demonstrated that with relocation can come longevity and success at a host venue.”

“We now have an opportunity to reset and take the first steps in creating a more streamlined, efficient industry,” he said.

With the proposed reduction in venues and dates, some clubs do not have licences allocated for 2020/21. Over the consultation period, NZTR will engage with these clubs, and potential tenant clubs, to determine options for the affected clubs to race at alternative venues and thereby retain individual club' identities. NZTR will also review the allocation amongst clubs of licences within regions as part of this process.

Thoroughbred Venues Proposed to not host racing in 2020/21 Draft calendar

Te Teko 
Waipa (Te Awamutu) 
Blenheim (Waterlea)  


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