Bernard's Blog: 28 Feb 19

Bernard Saundry
28 February 2019

This week’s blog is a little later than normal as I’ve been at the first couple of North Island venue plan meetings.

We are now in the final straight as the South Island meetings wrapped up last week with well attended meetings at Blenheim and Greymouth where the passion for the local venues was evident.

Over the weekend I saw more of that passion demonstrated when I attended the Wairoa races.

The North Island meetings kicked off on Monday with Auckland where the following comment struck me: “We are entitled to be proud of our history, but we can’t live in our history, we’ve got to live in our imagination and ask what the future could look like for us.”  

There was a commitment from those present from the Auckland Racing Club and Counties Racing Club to explore how that future might look, but the lack of representatives from the Avondale Jockey Club made it difficult to gauge whether a regional approach might be feasible.  That is something those clubs might address if they are able to agree to meet and develop a plan for their future.

There is, as I have said previously, a lot of history around the racing clubs of New Zealand, and the venue plan is about ensuring all those clubs currently racing continue to thrive and grow.  If we retain the status quo that will not be the case as the industry is not capable of stretching its already thin resources across 48 venues.

This was something the attendees at the New Plymouth meeting recognised as they determined to put aside the acrimony of the past decades and form a steering committee to investigate what racing in their venue might look like.  

One speaker spoke of the need to “get over emotion” and urged the “Taranaki proud” group to get together and lead the way.  With their steering group now in place and a meeting to be scheduled next week they are certainly doing that.

We will be rounding out the week with meetings today at Awapuni and tomorrow at Matamata and then the onus will be on the clubs, stakeholders and communities to provide their feedback prior to the 19 March deadlines.  Submissions can be sent to [email protected]

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