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Council and Branch Reps Meeting

The Bi-annual Council and Branch Reps meeting was held on Tuesday 30th November at Ellerslie. A full day of discussions on industry matters was attended by Councillors and branch representatives from throughout the country. Guest presentations were given by Alan Jackson, the recent thoroughbred appointment to the NZ Racing Board, and Guy Sargent, the Chairman of NZTR.

An email from Central Districts member Huw Taylor, who was unable to attend in person, was tabled at the meeting as part of the discussion on the difficulties currently faced by most NZTBA members.

We place it here for your information. Huw stipulates that his opinions are personal and do not represent Wellfield Stud, where he works as the Farm Manager. Any comments or view points would be welcome. Please forward them to nztba@nzthoroughbred.co.nz

Hi Janine,
As requested, a few thoughts on paper following on from our conversation yesterday.
Please feel free to use as you wish. I would like it made clear that these are personal opinions, not representative of Wellfield please.

I think given the current 'climate', we haven't fared too badly this season. Alamosa will serve around 120, and Road to Rock around 100, both acceptable figures for horses at the relevant stages of their careers.

The horse that best illustrates where I believe the serious issues lie is Handsome Ransom, who will probably serve around 50. This in a season where he has left a classic winning three year old, has had winners all over Asia and Australia, and has had a huge investment made in marketing. Standing at $4000 (with a $2000 filly incentive), he sits firmly in that 'breed to race' marketplace, and from the direct contact I have had with many of these breeders, this is the sector that is leaving the industry, and in their droves.

Handsome Ransom served 137 mares at Wellfield in 2007, and 150 in 2008. I have spoken to every single breeder, as well as a host of others. There is massive feeling of disenchantment with both breeding and racing. Service fees are not the issue, in fact it would not be overly dramatic to suggest that with many breeders, you couldn't give them a free service. The mare has already gone, or will not be bred from. They struggle to see the future path for their young stock, particularly fillies, see stakes continuing to decline, the lack of a strong and vibrant bonus scheme (again, particularly one targeting fillies and mares), and struggle to see a clear, concise, business like approach from the Racing Board as to a path forward.

These are hobby breeders in the main. They have the bug. They understand that the game is not exempt from recession, but when they are fed rubbish along the lines of ambitions for NZ to have the best racing in the world within five years, and see an apparent poor use of available funds in terms of salaries etc, it compounds their frustration.

Without any doubt we will be looking at the smallest foal crop we have ever seen. I fear we are starting to drift towards a broodmare pool that may become too small for recovery as the economic situation improves. Solutions are desperately required now, and breeders and owners need to be informed. They aren't mushrooms. I know that the NZTR board is made up of genuine racing folk, many of whom are also breeders, and there is a huge amount of business acumen within their ranks, and yet the perception exists that they have become toothless and ineffective, with a degree of questionable financial management. That perception has to be turned around.

The NZRB are equally well qualified in terms of their make up, and yet they are seen as completely detached from the industry, the recent five point plan, and the demise of the Informant being clear examples of this. These are all good people, racing and breeding people, and yet the culture of 'us and them' has descended to the lowest point I am aware of it reaching, and I believe that the salvaging of those reputations, and the rebuilding of trust and confidence will be a critical component in our recovery.

Kind Regards, Huw

Huw Taylor



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