Waikato Clubs move to secure the future
The Cambridge Jockey Club, Waikato Racing Club, and Waipa Racing Club have signalled a new era for racing in the Waikato region with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to explore the establishment of a single racing club for the Waikato region.
With more than 2000 horses in training the Waikato region provides more than one third of all starters nationally. A strong and united Waikato region therefore benefits the whole industry.
After four years of discussion the MoU is a significant milestone and the three clubs, in liaison with New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR), will now proceed to appoint an independent entity to develop a five-year Business Plan.
The Business Plan will provide confidence that a merger of the clubs is the most appropriate first step, and that a merged entity would have the capacity and capability to deliver a step-change for racing in the Waikato.
Once the Business Plan is approved by each Club’s Board or Committee the Clubs will then proceed to a formal Merger Agreement to put before their respective Club’s members.
Should the respective clubs’ members agree to the merger that would be implemented by creating a new incorporated society, Waikato Thoroughbred Racing.
An initial seven-person Independent Board would then be appointed, comprising individuals possessing the relevant skills and expertise. This would include up to two nominations from each of the three clubs, and one independent person appointed by a selection panel.
NZTR CEO Bruce Sharrock welcomed the move by the clubs as they move to create a robust and efficient business and governance structure.
“The first steps towards a possible merger can only be good news for the industry and the individual clubs,” he said.
“By working together, the clubs have created an ambitious plan which, if enacted, will provide them with options which aren’t accessible to them as individuals.”
Cambridge Jockey Club president Bruce Harvey was pleased to be part of an historic moment.
“This is an exciting period of change,” he said. “While there have been numerous reports which have given their opinion on the direction racing in the Waikato should take, this move is the first step in our three clubs coming together and collectively we can work towards a vision that will benefit the entire Waikato Region.”
That sentiment was echoed by Waikato Racing Club chairman John Elstob.
“This is definitely a significant milestone as our three clubs look towards the next steps in our evolution. The Business Plan which will be developed over the next few months will create the basis for an exciting future for racing in the Waikato, one of the key drivers in a future vision is growing Stakes for all Stakeholders.”
The Waipa Racing Club is also embracing the opportunity to see racing in the Waikato revitalised.
“This is about cementing the future of racing in the Waikato by ensuring present and future generations are able to be part of something which is sustainable. We want to establish Waikato as a premier racing and training location, and we are better able to achieve that when we are united than as three separate clubs,” Waipa president Carolyn Christian said.