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NZTBA Branch Reps meeting covers full agenda

The NZTBA holds two branch representatives' meetings each year, in June-July and November-December, to maintain close links among council, staff and branches, and ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of the Association's policies and activities.



NZTBA branch representatives chat during a break in last week's meeting, left to right: Bruce Perry (Central Districts), Aidan Schumacher (Taranaki-Wanganui), Mark Chitty (Auckland) & Duncan Fell (Central Districts)
This year's mid-winter meeting was held last Wednesday before the Annual General Meeting in Hamilton and as always, it covered a full agenda of items from ACC levies and industry education to bloodstock taxation and the 2007 New Zealand yearling sales series.







ACC Levies
Chief executive Michael Martin reported on progress made with the Accident Compensation Corporation to establish fair and accurate levies for employers in the equine industry. The current 2006-07 rate of $6.01 (per $100 payroll) is up from last year's figure of $4.81, but still well below the previous rate of $8.01.
However, more work is required on the levies paid by self-employed people within the industry, as these have risen to unacceptably high levels. For example, the ACC levy payable on a $25,000 income is $3,009, or just over 12%.

Michael, along with Mary McCarty (NZ Trainers' Association) and Lynley Sinclair (NZ Racing Board), continues to work with the ACC and the industry to improve workplace safety. They are also exploring the possibility of collecting ACC premiums in ways other than as levies based on earnings. For instance, it may well be more effective to collect a levy on each horse start.

Bloodstock Taxation
NZTBA Life Member and past president John Aubrey joined the meeting to deliver an excellent, detailed presentation on the new stallion and broodmare write-down rates, and how the "business test" is applied to thoroughbred breeding. A report on that presentation will soon be posted on the NZTBA website.

Education & Training
The NZTBA's representative on the New Zealand Equine Industry Training Organisation (ITO), and NZTBA Waikato branch president, Vicki Pascoe reported in detail on the activities of that organisation and the NZTBA Waikato branch, which has always strongly supported education & training programmes. She highlighted the urgent need for much more direct industry leadership and funding of this critical area, and played the new DVD on equine industry careers which will be mailed to vocational counsellors around the country. The DVD was funded by NZTR, Harness Racing New Zealand, the ITO and the NZTBA Waikato branch. No assistance was available from the New Zealand Racing Board for this project.

NZTBA Scholarships
Tom Burn
, president of the NZTBA Wellington branch, was delighted to report that Tracy Mourits, the winner of the NZTBA's Ted Howarth Memorial Scholarship had won the Gold Medal for the 2006 Irish National Stud Diploma course.

Amy Thomson, winner of the NZTBA Keith Taylor Equine Scholarship, achieved a pass with distinction, and finished among the top five students on the English National Stud Diploma course.

New Zealand Bloodstock
Joe Walls
and Petrea Vela from New Zealand Bloodstock addressed the meeting on the 2007 NZ National Yearling Sales series.

They reported on the changes made to the series format, in particular the two-day Premier Sale and the new Carnival Sale, during Auckland Cup Week in March; planned improvements to the sale facilities (air-conditioned sale-ring and wireless internet throughout the complex); and the launch of the Karaka Million incentive race for two-year-olds.

The selection process has also been streamlined with all staff inspecting yearlings networked to a single database so that final decisions about the placement of yearlings can be made in consultation with vendors.

The Premier, Select and Festival Sale catalogues will go to print in early November, with the Carnival catalogue following in early January, for distribution the day after the Festival Sale. The Carnival Sale is seen as a particularly good option for speedy types of fillies.

Mr Walls and Ms Vela acknowledged feedback received from their major clients & the NZTBA about sales promotion and welcomed assistance from those people on their marketing trips. They noted the highly competitive Australasian sales environment and the need to strengthen relationships with major existing and new buyers in Australia.
They also confirmed that the new Premier, Select & Carnival Sale offering fee of 2.5% would apply to each horse's reserve price, rather than 3.5% of either the reserve or the session average, whichever was lower. The commission rate has also been increased by 0.25% across the board.

NZ Equine Research Foundation & NZ Equine Health Association
Michael Martin reported on the decisions by the Racing Board to withdraw its funding of the EHA and re-direct funding for the ERF through the Massey University Trust fund. It appears that the RB hadn't fully understood the different function of these organisations, or the enormous amount of largely voluntary work that has kept them going. Consequently, the Board has re-instated funding ($10,000) for the EHA, which is responsible for establishing equine disease management strategies in conjunction with Biosecurity New Zealand. The Association is investigating the change in policy regarding the NZERF.

New Zealand Thoroughbred Marketing
Board members Bruce Perry and Sam Williams reported on NZTM's work, including its weekly dissemination of news and information via the New Zealand Thoroughbred Update. Under the chairmanship of Bill Gianotti, founder of New Zealand's leading direct marketing agency, Aim Proximity, NZTM is establishing an extensive database of clients whose relationship with the New Zealand thoroughbred industry will be managed principally by way of targeted direct marketing programmes.

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing
Peter Hutt
, the NZTBA's representative on the NZTR board, tabled the latest board report which highlighted the many substantial changes that have taken place at NZTR over the past eight months.

NZTR has recently presented its 2006-07 funding proposal to the Racing Board. It's projected that funding for the thoroughbred code, before commitments to initiatives, will total $60.8 million in 2006-07.

NZTR has taken an aggressive position on this proposal, which depends on improved performance by the Racing Board, and the thoroughbred code. Over the past 12 months, abandoned meetings, refunds and sub-optimal meetings (fewer than 90 runners) have cost the industry a total of $21.3 million.

The Funding Proposal's primary aims are to:
  • Increase returns to all owners by offering higher stakes at all levels and eliminating nomination and acceptance fees for standard races
  • Drive higher wagering by ensuring the best fields are available on the best wagering days
  • Reward clubs for on-course performance, and remove the risks clubs bear by holding "industry" racedays
  • Deliver competitiveness in the Australasian market
Upcoming Branch Events
Each branch gave a summary of its activities during the past six months, and listed events planned for the next few months:

  • Southland
    Black Type Awards Dinner – second week in August
  • Canterbury/Marlborough/Westland
    Stud Tour – Sunday 6 August
    South Island Racing Awards Dinner, Christchurch – Friday 22 September
  • Wellington
    Annual Awards Presentation will be held on Wellington Thoroughbred
    Guineas day
  • Hawke's Bay/Poverty Bay
    Awards Dinner – Friday 22 September
  • Waikato
    Group One Dinner – Friday 28 July
    Waikato Stallion Weekend – 2 & 3 September
  • Auckland
    Stallion Parade – Sunday 3 September
    Annual Awards Dinner, with a very special guest – Sunday 1 October
- Susan Archer