Racing takes a hit

By Patrick O'Sullivan

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Hawke's Bay Racing CEO Jason Fleming says he hopes a move to Showgrounds Hawke's Bay will happen, as the club's finances struggle for long term sustainability.   Photo / Glenn Taylor
Hawke's Bay Racing CEO Jason Fleming says he hopes a move to Showgrounds Hawke's Bay will happen, as the club's finances struggle for long term sustainability. Photo / Glenn Taylor

Hawke's Bay Racing's loss of $285,514 for the year, compared with last year's profit of $66,650, has the organisation looking to a shared facility at Showgrounds Hawke's Bay as a long-term financial solution.

CEO Jason Fleming said the loss for the financial year to the end of July was bigger than expected due to two items not included - a saving on insurance costs of about $30,000 and $195,000 for the GST paid on stakes, unclaimed because of a software glitch.

Winning stakes this year would be less, a saving for next year's result.

Chairman Mick Ormond said in his annual report he was disappointed after two "relatively successful years" and a similar report next year "will not be acceptable".

He said raceday manager Kim Treweek, who had resigned, would not be replaced.

Despite the savings in place for next year, long term the organisation was not sustainable and needed a game-changer.

"In July, Mayor Lawrence Yule - along with Hawke's Bay A&P Society, Hawke's Bay Racing, Hawke's Bay Polo, Hastings Rugby and Sports, Hawke's Bay Polo and Drillers Poultry Farm - announced his intention for a council-funded feasibility study into the possibility of shifting the racecourse to the Showgrounds."

Mr Ormond said both Hawke's Bay Racing and Hawke's Bay A&P Society had survived the last decade through asset sales, "and there is nothing obvious to say circumstances will change in a hurry unless we do things very differently".

"To utilise one facility more fully, with greatly reduced overheads sounds an obvious idea to explore - a win/win situation if it can be achieved."

He said he did not believe there was enough room at Showground's Hawke's Bay to install both a racetrack and training facilities.

"However, if we were able to purchase land nearby on which to develop a training facility, perhaps with stables/barns situated in the middle of that track, it most certainly is physically possible."

Mr Yule has suggested closing Elwood Rd "which would allow a racecourse to straddle both properties".

"There is so much goodwill between the parties that this idea may not just be pie in the sky stuff," Mr Ormond said.

He said a project installing a lift in the main grandstand had not proceeded because the stands would likely fail a 33 per cent strength test which "would open a can of worms".

A $50,000 grant from The Trusts Charitable Foundation for the project was repaid.

He said there had been a surge of new members this year and Turks Spring Classic last month "was an excellent day for Hawke's Bay Racing".

"We've had bigger crowds, but not a better behaved one."

Racing takes a hit

*Annual loss of $285,514
*Shared facility seen as possible solution
*A similar report next year unacceptable: Chairman

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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