NZTR Enhances Track Preparation Protocols
New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) is developing several initiatives following an unsatisfactory number of transferred or abandoned meetings this year.
- Each thoroughbred racing venue will be required to prepare and lodge an annual track management plan with NZTR, beginning this season.
- NZTR is developing a ‘return to racing’ policy. The policy will require that clubs, the Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) and senior riders are involved in a clear process over the two months prior to a return to racing on any track that has undergone significant remedial or construction work. It will include guidelines relating to the holding of either trials or jumpouts before racing resumes.
- The NZTR incoming Track Adviser, Todd Treweek, will ensure an engaged and proactive approach, with advice and visits, in the leadup to meetings. There are already at least two pre-raceday inspections, by NZTR or the RIU, for tracks that hold less than three meetings a year but there will now be greater communication between NZTR and all track managers.
- The track managers at the major venues will also have access to better technology early in 2019, including moisture readers and going sticks, and there will be more training opportunities for track staff.
- The minimum venue guideline standards will be reviewed in the current season.
“While the clubs are ultimately responsible for the preparation of their own tracks, it is clear that NZTR needs to be more proactive in working with the clubs in this area,” NZTR CEO Bernard Saundry said.
“Abandonments are costly for the industry and inconvenience our stakeholders and I had a recent meeting with Tony Pike, the president of the NZ Trainers’ Association, to discuss what NZTR can do to improve the situation.”
“We are also aware that producing consistent track surfaces is a key factor in developing punter confidence.
“We are unlikely to eliminate abandonments, even with the addition of synthetic tracks, but we believe that we can significantly reduce the number,” Saundry said.
“That said, there can be a variety of reasons why meetings are abandoned. A lack of infrastructure spending in the past has been a factor in the performance of some tracks but on occasions, simple human error has been the cause.
“Weather patterns have changed, and the bar has also been raised, quite correctly, in terms of health and safety issues,” Saundry added.
Pike said that he was pleased that NZTR would be taking a proactive rather than reactive approach to track management. “The feedback from our members is that the abandonments have become a real source of irritation, particularly as they impose extra costs on trainers, jockeys and owners. The industry needs to show that it is taking measures to improve the situation.”