Racing: Notion very optimistic says Bay Racing CEO

By Anendra Singh

1 comment
Jason Fleming
Jason Fleming

Establishing synthetic tracks in the Central Districts region of thoroughbred racing is "a very optimistic" plan, according to Jason Fleming.

The CEO of Hawke's Bay Racing says it's harsh to label racecourses such as Trentham (Wellington) and Awapuni (Manawatu) as "big bogs".

Fleming was reacting to suggestions from former leading Manawatu strapper Garry Trow, who now lives in Havelock North.

"New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing [NZTR] is identifying places around the country to put it [synthetic track] to maximise its impact."

He says to build synthetic tracks - akin to those in Geelong - in the Bay, Trentham and Awapuni will cost about $25 million.

"It's very subjective but it'll cost around $8 million to build one," he said.

The Victorian thoroughbred racing industry generates nearly $2.1 billion for the state's economy and engages close to 72,000 people as an employee, volunteer or participant, according to a report the State Government of Victoria released this month.

The Geelong club built an all-weather track inside its existing grass one in mid-2000.

When inclement weather disrupts meetings it becomes an alternate venue on top of its 35 meetings annually.

Fleming says the CD region has different weather patterns with more rain. Besides, there are opposing schools of thought on its relevance.

The administrators' challenge, he says, is to ensure horses suited to myriad conditions have opportunities to thrive on race day.

Responding to Trow's race scheduling suggestions, Fleming says it's a daunting exercise to set up jump and flat courses.

"It can take two hours and up to 50 people to put it up and then quickly bring it down for the flat races.

"I hear his argument but jumps do not get as much betting volume as flats from the punters' perspective although jumps is a great spectacle."

A lot of HB Racing's calendar, programming and events are subject to its board, TAB, the NZTR and its board.

"Quite a bit of what we're doing and not doing is controlled so we have to abide by policies.

"It's just like rugby where the central body rules provinces so we follow in the same vein."

Gathering overseas momentum, especially with the difference in time zones in maximising Australian involvement, is factored in during programming.

In terms of development, Fleming says he's been in contact with the Packenham Racing Club CEO on its state-backed A$60 million ($65 million) redevelopment programme that should be completed this spring.

"We're talking with the best, not just pulling finger and hoping for a result."

He welcomes Trow to contact him to discuss matters.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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