Bernard's Blog - 29 November
The week began with another update from RITA chair Dean McKenzie covering performance, Reform update and the announcement of RACEFORM. The full update can be read here
In a discussion around wagering with the TAB this week it was pleasing to hear that the demand for domestic racing has, after an initial decline, increase and is now indicating growth for the first time in over a year. This growth in demand has been largely focused in domestic thoroughbred racing.
From that positive, we also addressed an area of racing which had not been trending well over the past season. As most readers will be aware there was considerable concern around the numbers in South Island jump races which led to the establishment of a steering group to identify initiatives which could address this decline. During 2019 the average starter numbers in South Island hurdle races were 6.42, and steeplechases attracted an average of 5.16.
There is certainly talent in the South Island with the 2019 Jumper of the Year hailing from the South and the area has a long and rich history when it comes to producing jumpers.
After meeting with club representatives and the steering group coordinator Paul Claridge, it has been decided that a two-year period will be provided to look to improve the current situation. However, should there be an underperformance in the 2020 season NZTR will withdraw the commitment for the 2021 season.
There is a commitment from NZTR to protect and support the future success of the Grand National Carnival, even if this did become the sole focus of South Island jumps meetings.
Overnight on Sunday there was great news from Abu Dhabi where Charlotte New, the Kiwi representative in the Sheikha Lateefa Bint Mansoor Bint Zayed Al Nahyan International Pony race final, took third place.
The 400-metre event saw 15 runners, with riders from 13 countries, and was taken out by a French rider, with the Romanian representative second
Charlotte, a 14-year-old from Hauraki Plains College, got her first pony at 18 months and joined the Waikato Hunt as an eight-year-old. She earned her place in the final by winning the New Zealand final at the Tarzino Trophy meeting at Hastings at the end of August, after qualifying with wins in events at Te Rapa and Ellerslie.