New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing wields a heavy axe, it seems, and want to close 21 tracks.
It is not in one fell blow, however, as NZTR’s plan is to reduce the number over the course of the next decade, from 48 to 27 by 2030.
Beginning on August 1 of 2019, the governing body recommended closing the Stratford Racing Club and shifting its meetings to Pukekura Raceway in New Plymouth.
The other venues that might find themselves on the outside include, along with Stratford, Blenheim, Reefton, Wairoa, Waimate, Hokitika, Winton, Thames, Dargaville and Wyndham. All those would be closed this year.
If we were of a sarcastic bent, we would suggest that NZTR move all its races to Eagle Farm in Brisbane and disband NZTR, but there is not a single sarcastic bone or nerve in our bodies…
As might be expected, there were those who did not view the plan in a favourable light.
One of those was Stratford Racing Club president John Gray, who we quote saying, “There would be no more racing at Stratford. It’s disappointing for the trainers.”
Stratford is a training base for as many as 80 horses and almost 5,000 spectators turned out for the last race meeting held on December 29.
“It was our most successful race meeting. Why on earth would you want to get rid of it,” Gray said.
It may be too soon for severe reactions. According to NZTR head honcho Bernie Saundry, the proposal is only a proposal at this point and that everyone with an ox in the fight would be given ample opportunity to make their voices heard.
The plan was part of something called the Messara Report, which was made public last year. NZTR has the power to delicense tracks, but not the authority to close them.
Many of the tracks on the block also serve for the trotters, which seems efficient. Why not let the dogs on as well?