The NZ all-weather track discussion

A typical trial day scene in NZ; at least this day the meeting wasn't cancelled

Champion Trainer Murray Baker suggested post Bonneval’s win at Moonee Valley on Saturday that it’s been the “wettest winter in the Waikato for 40 years”.  I reckon he’s right.  In my near four decade career in this industry I’ve never witnessed a more difficult time for trainers to get horses ready for spring & summer racing, not to mention the scores of vendors battling to prepare two-year-olds for the Ready To Run breeze ups next month.

I regularly see racing on all-weather tracks on Trackside from all around the globe.  It’s become an absolute must, but here in NZ a purpose-built major all-weather training & racing facility remains very much in the too-hard basket.

Administrators reading this will say there is “not enough money” or find 50 other reasons why it’s not a good idea.  Well try telling that to a syndicate of owners who have been paying months of training fees and they can’t even get their horse to a trial – let alone a race – due to track conditions.

I live in Cambridge.  It’s thoroughbred heartland.  This town & the surrounding area has a concentration of horses in work like no other part of the country, yet there is not a purpose-built facility to ensure that training, trials & race days are not governed by the weather.

Two minutes from where I live is NZ’s No.1 cycling facility.  The Velodrome cost tens of millions and many said it wasn’t possible.  But they made it happen.  Fifteen minutes from where I live is NZ’s No.1 rowing facility.  Again world-class, lacking for nothing.

Racing generates levels of revenue through gambling & thoroughbred exports which would stagger the bean-counters at cycling & rowing.

Yet here we are with training tracks struggling to cope, trial meetings being called off every week & race meetings a regular casualty too.

I’ve probably wasted 15 minutes of my day raising this topic as the people that can make a difference to the status quo would prefer to “have a meeting about a meeting”.  Let’s ditch the meetings and make it happen.  I know I don’t speak alone.


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