After hiring a new event manager, the company behind Horse of the Year now has its sights set on securing more ratepayer funding for Hawke's Bay's largest sporting event.
Cynthia Bowers, chairwoman of Horse of the Year (Hawke's Bay) Ltd (HOYL), said yesterday the company had made submissions to Hastings District and Napier City councils seeking a significant increase in funding.
The requests were being made through the councils' long term-plan consultation processes, where the they consider feedback on their spending priorities for the next 10 years.
The Hastings council, which provided $35,000 to the annual equestrian event last year, was asked to boost its contribution to $150,000 a year, while Napier was being asked to up its annual contribution from $10,000 to $100,000.
Ms Bowers, who is also Hastings deputy mayor, said in other parts of the country councils contributed 5 to 10 per cent of the economic benefit of major events. HOY brought an estimated $12 million benefit to the region but the company recognised the twin city councils were not in a position to contribute 5 per cent of that, which would amount to $600,000. "But we do think the two councils do need to step up their support to a combined level of $250,000," she said.
"Our view is the local authorities need to back this event in the same way our new event manager is backing it."
On Friday HOYL announced it had selected Auckland-based SMC Events to take over the contract to run the show.
The decision followed a tender process which previous long-standing event manager Kevin Hansen chose not be part of.
Ms Bowers said under the new agreement, SMC would have to pay a share of any deficit if the event ran at a loss, something which wasn't written into the previous contract with Mr Hansen's company.
"For my board, that is a huge positive in that SMC has the confidence to back themselves to make a profit," she said.
SMC is a well established operator with experience running a range of major events including the Weet-Bix Kids TRYathlon, Auckland's ASB Polyfest, Big Boys Toys and the Sovereign Tri Series.
The company used to own the Ellerslie International Flower Show but sold the event to Christchurch City Council for $3 million in 2007.
It continued to manage the event for the council until last year, when the council announced, after several years of losses, it was cancelling the 2015 show and would work on plans to make the event financially viable from 2016.
SMC chief executive Dave Mee said yesterday his company had received positive reviews - including from the council - for its management of the Ellerslie show but the Christchurch earthquakes were a "game changer".
Ms Bowers said HOYL did "significant due diligence" during the tender process and SMC were highly recommended by people who worked with the company.
HOYL has an agreement with Equestrian Sport NZ that the Horse of the Year show is to be held in Hawke's Bay until 2027.