Horse of the Year misses out on grant

By Corey Charltoncorey charlton@hbtoday co nz

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The Horse of the Year Hawke's Bay company has missed out on funding from a gaming trust application, causing a net profit of $6944 rather than the budgeted $68,600, says the board chair and Hastings councillor, Cynthia Bowers.

The latest financial report, not yet presented to the Hastings District Council or its finance and monitoring committee, showed the profit was substantially less than what was budgeted.

"The reason for it being less than what we had budgeted was a shortfall in some [money] being received from gaming trusts," Cr Bowers said.

"We had budgeted to receive a certain amount of dollars from a gaming trust. Because the Horse of the Year [company] was slow to be established - it didn't really get established until about August last year and its financial year status on the first of June - because we've effectively only had about nine months that we were operating as a company, we didn't have the amount of time to lodge the amount of applications to the gaming trust."

Councillor and Hastings mayoral candidate Wayne Bradshaw had questioned the financial results and why they had not been released publicly, which he said should be within 90 days of the balance date, as per the shareholders' agreement.

"The lateness of this information concerns me in two ways," he said. "Is the result worse than forecast and/or are the results being held back until after the election for other reasons?

"From memory, the two reasons could only be they've blown the budget or have not achieved the budget, or there's something they don't want released at election time."

In 2012, the Horse of the Year show was reorganised with the Hastings District Council taking a one-third shareholding and providing some loan funding.

Cr Bradshaw said: "The council has invested ratepayer monies in this venture and strong transparency and accountability in a timely manner should be followed in managing these funds."

Cr Bowers disputed that, saying the accounts had been lodged with the council's chief financial officer within the specified time - it just had not yet been presented to the finance and monitoring committee.

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said he had not seen the details of the finances but was aware Cr Bradshaw had queried it before.

"I don't even know," he said. "He's asked this question at the council before and Tony Gray, the chief financial officer, indicated that everything had been done. I can't answer that."

Mr Yule said the reliance on gaming trusts was an issue and discussions with central government were under way for funding from the Major Events Development Fund, similar to what the Art Deco Trust was announced to have received earlier this week.

"That's one of the issues with the Horse of the Year," Mr Yule said.

"A substantial part of its funding is from gaming trusts and that is one of the risks within the business, and it's like a lot of other events, and one of the reasons we're asking to get major events funding is to try and lift the event to true international status.

"There's always going to be a reliance on the applications, that's the model that's been set up.

"But the board is trying to remove the reliance on that, and this is one of the ways of doing so."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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