Bernard's Blog - 11 December

Bernard Saundry
11 December 2019

The focus of most within the industry was on parliament on Tuesday afternoon when the Racing Industry Bill had its first reading.   The Bill will now go to select committee with a reporting date of 17 April 2020 and there will no doubt be much deliberation and discussion around various aspects in the interim.

This week though, I want to spend some time talking about sponsors.

It is always pleasing to see sponsors renewing their involvement with our major races, most recently Vodafone which will retain naming rights of the Vodafone New Zealand Derby for its next three runnings.  That support is something we should not take for granted and something, which as an industry, we should be responding to with support of our own.

In the current climate, where sponsors at race meetings are now being targeted by protest groups, it is even more important to ensure industry participants throw our numbers into ensuring our business goes to those who chose racing. One particularly vocal group, which saw three protesters at Trentham on Saturday, has written to race sponsors and entertainers performing at race meetings in an effort to discourage their involvement.

Fortunately, racing has – through its many participants, employees and volunteers – numbers on its side.  The 2018 IER Size and Scope report put that number at 58,100.  We also contribute significantly to the economy with an annual contribution of $1.6 billion

One of our goals in the New Year is to create a directory of companies which support racing and to encourage our participants to in turn spend their money with these businesses.  At the same time, we need to ensure we are telling those businesses that is why we are giving them our business.

It can be as simple as selecting a particular restaurant or accommodation outlet when travelling.  These businesses need to be made aware of the fact that their financial support of our industry is appreciated and acknowledged.

While there are businesses who do get behind racing, there are others who chose not to have any involvement based on their own policies.  This week one of our major racing clubs and our own marketing arm had advertising declined in Air New Zealand’s January Kia Ora magazine.

The excuse given was that Air New Zealand was – “currently working through their position on wildlife tourism and tourism activities that involve animals and they are not comfortable promoting horse racing or accepting revenue from the industry until they have clarity on their position.”

At the final hour Air New Zealand advised its publishers to accept the advertising, however it was a reminder that not all businesses view our industry favourably.  It was also a lesson to consciously consider where we might spend our discretionary dollars.

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