The good news no, make that the GREAT news, is that the NZ Racing Board has dedicated an additional $6.5 million to NZ Thoroughbred Racing for stakes from August 1.

That's on top of recently raising the minimum stake to $10,000.

The bad news is, the Racing Board itself admits at least $2 million of the new amount is required to make up for the shortfall of recently abandoned race meetings.

Okay, the number of scrapped meetings is above the average, but that's not a one-off. Increasingly we are getting tropical rain, something that was virtually unknown a decade back and the incidents will only increase. Tropical rain is becoming more intense in New South Wales and the same is happening here. It will get worse.

Advertisement

Which means a solution to abandoning so many meetings simply has to be found. The industry cannot afford that level of loss.

We MUST start looking at all-weather surfaces, or at least one in the top half of the North Island and one in the Central Districts. And that comes from someone who has no real liking for artificial racing surfaces. There will never be a suitable replacement for grass, but this does not come down to likes and dislikes - this is pure economics.

Two million dollars lost to stakeholders in only a few months - what racing economy can afford that? Not ours.

It comes at a bad time. If we had the current office holders running racing a decade or two back this would already be done. To do it now will cost twice as much.

But it must be done - somehow.

Yes, there will be plenty say we can't afford it.

We can't afford to not afford it.

Stewards have wide sweeping powers and so they should, but those powers should run parallel to common sense.

Don't get New Zealand trainer John Wheeler going on that.

A week ago you could have flattened Wheeler with a wet bus ticket. In the last two decades, the Kiwi horseman has made Adelaide's Oakbank racecourse his own.

He has nine times won its most famous race, the Great Eastern Steeplechase, one of South Australia's iconic races. Nine times with a handful of visiting horses. Locals that form the massive crowd named him King Of Oakbank. There should be monuments to the man on the course.

Last weekend Wheeler saddled three horses on the first day, Saturday of the Saturday-Monday meeting. None finished the course. The first was brought down by another horse and had to be euthanised.

To add insult to injury stewards told Wheeler Racquentor, who fell on that Saturday, had to trial before being allowed to race next.

"Obviously that wasn't possible because I was going to run him two days later in the Great Eastern, for which he'd already been accepted.

"This was the first mistake the horse had ever made."

Wheeler has never been shy of telling it as it is. "I told them I wasn't going to scratch him and if they weren't going to allow him to run they'd have to do it." They did.

Even when charged with keeping racing safe, second guessing a man who has nine times won your flagship race is beyond a massive call.

It smacks of an insult.

The horse that at some stage would not make a mistake jumping Oakbank has yet to be born.