The Hastings District Council has obviously been caught between a rock and a hard place over Horse of the Year.

The council met yesterday in the wake of an independent report after this year's event recorded a $170,000 loss.

It had to decide whether to invest more money in Horse of the Year (Hawke's Bay) Ltd and to give the event managers, SMC Events, more cash to run next year's show.

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Clearly the council and SMC were not expecting the big loss and despite the reasons they gave, it did, for some critics, raise questions about the manner in which the change of event managers was handled.

The independent review by Craig Waterhouse found the loss was partly due to the transition from Kevin Hansen's Eventpro, to SMC Events last year. It recommended the council retain SMC, provide a $250,000 cash contribution to HOYHB for increased working capital, and supply additional sponsorship.

Yesterday the council decided to make a cash grant of $170,000 to HOYHB and to increase their annual contribution to the event to $120,000.

In fairness, it was probably the only thing the council could do. No one wants this show to fail as it is too important to the region, bringing in about $12m to our economy.

Ratepayers, by and large, will probably accept the reasons for the loss and, in mitigation, this year's show did receive very high approval ratings.

However, SMC Events and HOYHB should remember that these are public funds.

So, it would be good if next year's event did not record another loss, especially after such big cash injections.

Let's hope HOYHB and the event managers will put extra systems in place to give the show a chance of being financially successful.


The region is counting on it.