Bigger fields and more people attending Tauranga race meetings is the hoped result of a $24 million boost to the racing industry over the next two years.
“What it will do is have and indirect effect, hopefully having more horses race at our meetings,” says Racing Tauranga president Rob Weatherly.
The money is to raise the stakes, boosting minimum winnings from $10,000 to about $12,000.
“It will get filtered down through, even though it directly doesn't come to the clubs, indirectly it will.”
He's hoping it will boost fields, the number of horses in a race. The maximum number on the Tauranga race course is 14 runners in a single race.
For example, their last meeting at Easter they were getting eight or nine runners in a field, “and that affects the punting as well”.
“The optimum number in a field for the well-seasoned punter is about 11-12 runners. “If a club gets a maximum field at 14 then the betting per race is higher and the income a club gets.”
Some race days for example the main Saturday meeting at Christmas, the racing club gets a percentage of the on course betting. On what they call their industry days, the mid-week racedays the racing clubs just get a set payment.
“Overall it's very good news for the industry, there is still more to go but it's certainly been a good start,” says rob.
The money is divided among the three codes, harness racing, thoroughbreds and dogs.
“It will hopefully encourage owners to stay in the industry and generate more ownership which in turn will generate more spending throughout the industry. Trainers will receive more, owners receive more.
“Hopefully for our club it will mean we will have more horses racing at our meetings.
“There's been a lot of doom and gloom in the industry over the last three or four years, the last two or three months has bene a bit of light at the end of the tunnel so to speak.
The money is well overdue. The Racing board has always said $40 million would be injected through to 2020, but industry stakeholders; owners and trainers have been very vocal over the last few months, saying they can't wait until 2020, says Rob.
NZ Racing Board chair Glenda Hughes says the Board is confident key strategic initiatives being progressed - the fixed odds betting platform, customer and channel improvements, racefields legislation, and the optimise the calendar programme - will deliver a significant lift in annualised Net Profit per year to racing once fully implemented.
“However, we recognise that more urgent financial assistance is needed by the industry, which is why we are committing to deliver some of this future increase early, ahead of full implementation,” says Glenda.
This will see distributions to the industry increased to a minimum of $148.2 million in 2017/18 and 2018/19 from the current baseline, in anticipation of the future financial benefits of NZRB's key strategic work currently underway, says CEO John Allen.
“This additional funding will enable all industry participants to have greater confidence in the successful future of our industry,” says John.
This step is also on top of the $4.77 million Industry Enhancement Fund initiatives announced in January to support stakes, infrastructure and youth development.
“We have a clear focus on the projects we are delivering, good progress is being made and we are taking action to continue to lift returns to the industry over the coming two years while the benefits of our strategic initiatives are being brought to fruition,” says Glenda.