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NZ trainers frustrated with low-profile Racing Board

Trainers throughout the country are becoming increasingly frustrated with the state of the industry, according to the National President of the NZ Trainers' Association Chris Wood.

"We were led to believe that the passing of the Racing Bill and the formation of the NZ Racing Board would be a positive thing for the industry and allow us greater control of our own destiny," said Wood. "Eight months down the track we have heard little from the new Board with regard to the industry's future."

The primary concern for most trainers is the escalating costs of ACC levies with many larger operations facing bills in the tens of thousands.
"ACC is by far the largest cost affecting trainers at present and, until returns improve by way of stake increases, our members are loath to pass these costs on to owners," states Wood.

Impacting further on trainers' ACC levies are the requirements of the Holidays Act which comes into force on 1 April.

"Having to pay staff time and a half for public holidays is a further burden on trainers' wage bills and will result in yet another increase in ACC levies," Wood explains.

"Many of our members are already struggling to meet their commitment to ACC which means payments have to be spread and therefore incur interest payments in addition to what is often already an excessive amount to pay."

There is little doubt in Wood's mind that ACC payments will have a far reaching impact on the industry.
"Trainers will cut back their operations to avoid having to employ large numbers of staff, which will affect the number of horses racing which will in turn affect turnover," he says.

While turnover on local galloping meetings has shown an increase of 3.7% over the past four weeks it is still a concern to trainers that overall figures show a decline of 3.4% for the year to date.

"Any reduction in our turnover is a concern especially as our code's return from profits on overseas galloping is based on our proportion of domestic turnover," Wood continues.

"Our Association was totally opposed to this formula at the time the Racing Act went before select committee, going as far as commissioning the Brown, Copeland report which outlined the detrimental impacts of the Bill on the thoroughbred racing industry."

"We still believe that the distribution formula is flawed and would welcome some feedback from the Racing Board as to just how they believe our code can flourish under the constraints of the Racing Bill.

"It is our belief that our industry should be based on strong economic principles and that the thoroughbred code cannot afford the module as set out in the Racing Bill."


- NZ Trainers' Association