A message to the industry
Firstly, I apologise to all the owners who were impacted by the abandonment on Saturday at Rotorua, likewise to all other participants, Trainers, Jockeys, Starters, Commentator, clerk of the scales, judge, raceday staff and punters.
We can no longer tolerate sub-par performance when it comes to our tracks given the cost to the industry.
We will all agree that weather will get the better of us at times, that is something we can never change. What we can change however is our ability to recognise when the surface we are expecting our horses and jockeys to perform on is not up to standard.
Following the Trentham abandonment last year policies were put in place with the aim of avoiding incidents such as Saturday’s abandonment. In recent weeks we have ensured that, when we were made aware of a potential track issue, that the track was inspected independently. This has allowed meetings to be transferred or abandoned in advance of their race days.
The situation that occurred at Rotorua on Saturday is unacceptable. NZTR has received an initial report from the club and requested further information. We will keep participants advised regarding the outcome however, the Rotorua Racing Club will now be subject to our Return to Racing Policy which require certain steps to be followed before the track will be able to host racing again.
So, what will NZTR be doing to avoid similar situations in the future?
- From 1 August we will introduce a Regional Track model which will provide more eyes on tracks, and more support for track managers.
- We will work more closely with the Racing Integrity Board (RIB) to ensure that, when situations require and resources allow, we will have people pre-inspect tracks with club personnel and, if possible, gallop a horse ridden by an experienced rider.
I feel that with some in our industry there is a disconnect between what is expected in 2022 given heightened Health and Safety regulations, Animal Welfare considerations, and what may have been acceptable in the past.
If we are to move forward as an industry we must accept and embrace the environment we are in and make the necessary adjustments, these are across the board and not just related to track conditions. Otherwise, we will continue to sabotage any progress we are seeking to make.