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NZ Harness Racing's Future: Follow the Aussies

Happy Sunrise

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It is time to sell up everything and follow the Aussies as in Melton and Menangle. We might as well do what they have done and are doing and spare the NZ industry some pain.

In the Canterbury region,

Addington is sold, along with every other track which can provide $ such as Rangiora. 95% of the rest are jettisoned.

A new complex based on the Albion Park alternative model is built somewhere south of Christchurch (preferably in a not so windy spot) so it is in a central place for trainers. Will have training and stable facilities (Hong Kong gallops model?) which may help reduce costs for everyone. It should be built properly with decent viewing eg stands (one floor only spaced along home straight, grass embankments with an actual winning post and camera angle that is in line with the finish. This place will allow racing several times a week so owners get more opportunity to race their horses for admittedly limited stakes. It will have its own vet, onsite testing regimes, RIU and HRNZ can be based there. Again, reduced costs.

Every other track in Canterbury is gone except for Methven and Motukarara which will alternate Sunday grass track racing between October to April.

If trainers are too far away, they move to be closer to the action. 

In the deep south,

Everything is gone except for Invercargill, any profits from closure can upgrade Ascot Park to a second class citizen status and see how they survive. If not, move to Canterbury.

In the North,

Palmy gone, Auckland gone (it is beyond resuscitation, lets be honest - the bigwigs are only protecting their salaries before retiring into the sunset) , everywhere else is gone too, no grass racing whatsoever, everything is out of Cambridge. Any profit (😂) from the sale of Auckland goes to upgrade Cambridge and we will see if it survives, if not, move to Canterbury to continue to be involved in harness.

The only debate would be whether the summer holiday destinations of Central Otago and the Coast and maybe Tasman survive.


Reduced stakes next season is a sign of hard times coming, super low Cup Day crowd, really soft crowd numbers yesterday for the best racing of the year, weak crowds at country meetings, ageing and totally unacceptable facilities eg Methven toilets, Mot grandstand covered in bird poo or Ashburton stand seats covered in dust, undersized fields, seemingly poor turnover figures, limited and self serving leadership from HRNZ (they didn't even know the reduced funding was coming? Goodness me) and a list of crooked and corrupt trainers in recent times who do the game no good at all. 

Harness is stagnant at best and facing an enormous challenge with being spread so far and wide. The ownership game makes no sense as an owner unless you are one of the elite with the All Stars, not everyone is wiling to chuck money down the drain for 'fun' and big syndicates can only put a few horses on the track at a time. Time to face up to the fact harness is not widespread like football, or even rugby, harness is rugby league but should aspire to be something like Aussie rules - localised but popular.

Isolated solutions and band aid remedies will not fix anything.

I am not even sure I support what I wrote, as I would be the first one to champion the little clubs but from what I witness it is time to get radical and go full 'Messara'



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This article, taken from HRNZ shows perfectly why the industry will continue to struggle in this country. Hard to believe there is no place for the likes of Arabian Blue in NZ. 

Can sharper minds tell me why we don't just copy the Aussie model?

7,9,8,10,10,6,9,10,10,9,10 field size for Addington on Friday for reasonable stakes, field sizes should dictate stakes I reckon because I am not sure how much betting there will be Friday night. They should be lowered accordingly on a sliding scale.

What was the turnover on Grand Prix Day?

Australia beckoning Arabian Blue

6 December 2022 , Punters Info

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk

Australia is beckoning Canterbury pacer Arabian Blue, but trainer Steve Dolan is hoping that he can eke out a few more wins from the four-year-old gelding before he heads across the Tasman.

En route to Auckland, the son of Auckland Reactor is making a pitstop at Manawatu Raceway on Tuesday where he will contest the T Market Fresh Mobile Pace (2000m).

It is a big drop in grade for the gelding and Dolan is expecting a positive result from the meeting.

“He will be super competitive, he has raced against much better horses. He is quite a nice horse,” Dolan said.

The Russley horseman has plenty of time for Arabian Blue and said it will be a shame to lose him offshore, however, he has to do the right thing by his connections and believes the handicapping system in New Zealand has forced his hand.

“He’s heading to Manawatu with a view to heading to Australia,” Dolan said.

“He probably won’t stay there for long, but the long-term plan for him is to go to Jack Trainor at Menangle.

“It is a reflection of programming and handicapping in and around Canterbury."

“I just can’t find suitable racing for him. He is up against horses that are really seasoned and much higher in the ratings, or he can’t get a mobile on a lesser day.

“It is really tricky to place a horse like him. Once you get into R55 or better, next thing you are up against horses that are very good.”

A number of stable predecessors are plying their trade across the Tasman and Dolan believes Arabian Blue has the potential to bank plenty of money for his connections in Australia.

“A couple of horses we have sent to Aussie are doing a fantastic job and their handicapping system allows them to earn quite a lot of money,” Dolan said.

“I would say he is very capable of winning a lot of money in Australia. It is unfortunate that I will lose him, but I am just trying to do the right thing by his owner Les Purdon.

“Les is really enjoying racing him and I just want to get him a return.”

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Hi Happy, always enjoyed your posts altho nowadays dont see many of them

Ill reply as per things I know which isnt much lol, but to add here to your thread. 

Yes the time has come sell things up and only have Cambridge & Addington & some grass tracks as you mention. Its very sad. And I feel for those that wanted change & pushed for it. But it fell on death ears.

Alex P had there chance & members voted the same board crew in, so they just proved their reputation, which my understanding isnt good. And now Mr Dunn is 2IC there. The issue with this is that Mr Dunn & other Woodends Beach folk were allegely being monitored CUP week by RIB (something I thought mean of RIB, constantly picking on them - enough is enough move on). Now from public perception having a trainer being monitored by the Racing Cops isnt the best role model to have as a leader of a Premier Club.

Next is the issue with ATC board & Mr Barry L. A war is occuring. Go Mr B L. Why tick of a fair racing journo, that gives balanced reports from both sides. Why so mad MR BL wrote what he did. They threatened him made him take down all articles.

Next & simouetnously ATC takes on the Hall of Fame Muesum. And that is another dog fight.

Plus dont forget they are also currently taking on the lovely Ms McDonald, allegely blaming her for all their problems. Hahahahahahha. Dont you just love this. Which part do you love the most? Its her that is the problem not ATC board. She wont give them more Fridays. I looked at Fri Alex Fields & it had LOW runners. Of course u are going to get Fris taken off you when you dont deliver. 

Then dont forget ATC have pushed the sale of Puke taking on Pukes President in another blow up. 

Who really thinks they will build another training centre lol. Its over. Altho in fairness myself, Happy, Rusty said this a year ago. 

And dont forget the current war between ATC board & ex President who wrote to HRNz board & racing minister, cant remember his name. 

And lets not forget ATC board & co got rid of D Branch. Well now he has gone to Camb & which club is going ahead leaps & bounds? Haha its not rocket science folks. What age group is D Branch in? Compared to ATC president? What age group is B Litcher in compared to ATC president? What age group is B Reid in compared to those B Reid took on HRNZ board & CEO for example who gave it to them. And I read YES a decision did OVER TURN. 

The younger go getters, like these 3 are the types plus females same age & younger need to be leaders, if not the industry will be on it knees in 2-3 years in NZ. And that is not being disrespectful to the wonderful Kiwi elder population.

Aussie is poaching stock. Anyone read what I wrote about Sweetie?

Sorry Happy if Iv gone of subject so tried to get back on with my last sentence ha. 

Edited by karrotsishere
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Ps I feel for those at ATC that want change & to save their club. I also feel for those that want/ed to see the industry in NZ survive. Its sad, things are coming to this. Even an ex lovely poster on here Enteebee. Calling things out, out of concern, sometimes crossing the line lol, but he did so I feel out of concern for the industry, to help save it.

My understanding is there is a movement going on behind the scenes to get rid of HRNZ CEO. Good on the Gore Club to write a letter to get rid of HRNZ CEO to the HRNZ board, however it wont go far as its just to the same people that made these decisions.

Oh My George Takai GIF 

Edited by karrotsishere
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  • 3 weeks later...

Went to Melton in 2018 and underwhelmed by the place.   It has nothing on Addington. It would be a big mistake in my opinion to go down that road here.   Also any funds from selling Addington would be eaten up by a green field development of a new facility, so not much to be gained and plenty to lose.  

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1 hour ago, Royal Nod said:

Went to Melton in 2018 and underwhelmed by the place.

It is very non-descript and in the middle of nowhere. I can't imagine many folk from Melbourne going to the trots.

1 hour ago, Royal Nod said:

It would be a big mistake in my opinion to go down that road here.

If Addington stays, how do you think the rest of the tracks in the region should be managed? Do you think the same applies to Alexandra Park?

I am blown away by the lack of response to the 10% reduction in stakes, if one looks at Guerin or Knight on twitter they say nothing. Nothing in the Herald. Nothing pretty nothing anywhere which surprises me since it affects just about everyone in some shape or form. 

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40 minutes ago, Happy Sunrise said:

Addington stays, how do you think the rest of the tracks in the region should be managed? Do you think the same applies to Alexandra Park?

I said years ago there should be a stock take done of all the tracks and how much they are worth & who actually owns them.   I think we don’t really need both Mot & Rangiora but one estimate I heard was that selling Rangiora would only bring in about $ 4 mil.  If it was sold though money could be invested in developing a training centre & community at Mot where young trainers could set up relatively cheaply.  As for Auckland I think if they can get out of their difficulties in time it would be best to stay put.  Addington get good crowds to Christmas at the races and other functions during the year.  That revenue stream would largely disappear if they shifted out of town. 

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