More than 1,000 race meetings at 51 venues throughout New Zealand were confirmed today by the Dates Committee of the Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) for the forthcoming racing year.
The racing calendar, which covers the period from 1 August 2020 to 31 July 2021, follows consultation with the three racing codes, clubs and other recognised racing organisations of a revised draft racing calendar that reflected the impact of Covid19 on the industry and the critical need for racing industry reform.
The final programme of racing includes a number of changes from the draft calendar following careful consideration of 100 submissions which covered feedback on a range of topics from scheduling changes to the allocation of racing dates.
The key changes in the final calendar are:
- Increased number of Thoroughbred meetings from 273 to 278 and Harness meetings from 246 to 257 (including dual meetings). Greyhound meetings increase from 459 to 478 with new six race programs at Forbury and Ascot Park
- Conditional reintroduction of five dates to Avondale Jockey Club and ten dates to Forbury Park contingent on the development of regional racing plans before 31 December 2020
- Reintroduction of harness dates at Manawatu Raceway, Gore, Tauherenikau, Otaki, Roxburgh, Blenheim and Timaru venues
- Venues that were scheduled to have no racing in the draft but now will are; Avondale, Forbury, Blenheim and Roxburgh
- Marlborough (January) and West Coast (March) Harness dates reinstated
RITA Dates Committee Chair, Edward Rennell said the final calendar was intended to maximise the benefit for the thousands of New Zealaders who rely on racing for their livelihoods.
“The significant effort, attention and passion that went into the submissions enabled RITA to develop a final calendar which we believe meets the immediate needs of racing next year and provides scope for the industry to address the critical need for venue intensification.
“Many of the submissions provided thoughtful and constructive feedback on specific issues in the original draft, however there was also general recognition that ongoing changes to the calendar were required. In several cases suggestions were put forward to develop solutions that are in the best interest of sustaining racing in regions," says Rennell.
Licences allocated to the Avondale JC and Forbury Park TC are conditional on regional reviews of racing in the Auckland and Dunedin districts being completed by 31 December 2020. This will allow the recommended outcomes of these reviews to be considered prior to the allocation of dates for the 21/22 season. RITA will also engage with the codes to ensure greater alignment with their future venue plans, including encouraging regional reviews to be undertaken in the Tasman, Mid Canterbury to North Otago and Southland regions.
The calendar is also based on delivering racing in an efficient manner to maximise returns to the industry. Changes to the draft calendar allow for increased dual race meetings, highlighted by the addition of Central Districts harness and Otago/Southland greyhound meetings.
“The development of regional plans for domestic racing will not only provide certainty for clubs and venues, it will also help strengthen the viability of the industry in New Zealand’s regions. The Committee strongly encourages all racing codes and clubs to have well-formed plans in place prior to the commencement of consultation later this year on the 2021/22 racing calendar,” says Rennell.
“In allocating dates for the year, the Committee’s focus has been to deliver a schedule that maximises the benefit for the entire racing industry, while also reflecting the unprecedented and ongoing impact of Covid19.”
Venues which have not been allocated meeting dates in 2020/21 are; Gisborne, Orari, Stratford, Te Awamutu, Te Teko, Waikouaiti, Waimate, Waipukurau, Wairoa and Wyndham.
The Dates Committee is required under the Racing Industry Act to set the racing calendar to comprise all of the dates in the subsequent racing year on which betting races will occur. Aspects relating to the ongoing use of venues is now subject to a clear legislative process as part of the Racing Industry Act 2020 and aligned with the intent of the new Code-led model established by the Act.
The 2020/21 racing calendar is available online here.