The heads of New Zealand thoroughbred racing have drawn a line in the sand and say the time for change is now.
New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing chair Cameron George says implementing change in seven key areas is no longer negotiable and NZTR don't greatly care who is upset by it as long as it is for the greater good of the industry.
NZTR sent a document, obtained by the Herald, to club and kindred bodies late Thursday afternoon outlining not only the areas the industry needs to improve in but most importantly the exact time frames they want change to occur in.
"We are not writing another huge strategic plan and then sitting around talking about how to get it done," George says.
"We have to make changes now and it is our job to lead thoroughbred racing where it needs to go. We want everybody in the code to embrace it.
"We can't maximize the potential of this industry, and therefore its returns, sitting around arguing about everything and different groups' self-interests."
The report gets straight to the point.
"At times you may disagree with our lead, but always remember our role is industry first," says the report signed off by George and NZTR chief executive Bernard Saundry.
"That principle is embedded in every decision we [NZTR] make and what is best for the future is not necessarily that which was best historically.
"This is our opportunity as an industry to make the aspirational changes which will count; the inspiring changes which will see us lift standards and our levels of professionalism.
"We need to be brave, ambitious, creative, forward-looking and, most importantly, supportive and ready for change.
"It is time to stop the talk and take action."
George has the buy-in of the NZTR board and Saundry but he says there will be accountability to ensure change is made, and that means inside NZTR as well as the industry.
While racing administration bodies writing documents is nothing new the aggressive intent from NZTR is impossible to miss and the reports gives dates for when they want to see progress and what they want that progress to look like.
George has already proven himself to be a change agent as chief executive of the Warriors rugby league club and he says the thoroughbred code has to be responsible for itself before worrying about the all-important TAB payout, which is expected to be significantly higher this year.
"That money is important but we need to make our industry as efficient and progressive as possible before we get that money, then do the right thing with it.
"We need to look at every opportunity."
The seven key areas for change in what NZTR are calling "a leadership document" and what outcomes they want from that change are:
1: The racing product
Goal: "The focus is on growth and the subsequent returns this will provide owners and participants."
Goal: "That the overall result is a sustainable, affordable venue footprint meeting both our community and professional needs."
Goal: "That our workforce is excited about their future within the industry, they have clear career paths and are proud to be involved in racing."
Goal: "Clubs are encouraged to create added revenue streams; establish strong community relationships; and business opportunities."
5: Marketing and PR
Goal: "Our stories are getting racing into the mainstream media. We are catering for all fans – new and old, expert and beginner."
6: Wagering and content
Goal: "Data and vision are more effectively monetised, enabling NZTR to provide greater returns to industry participants."
7: The business of racing
Goal: "Our collective scale and a united approach provide significantly improved commercial outcomes."
That will mean a more fluid approach to how the industry uses resources to make money, how they engage with overseas betting operators to promote New Zealand racing, and how to attract and educate more people to work inside the industry.
Two key areas of focus will be the racing calendar, as in when races and carnivals are held and even what time of day meetings are held to maximise turnover opportunities and the interaction with overseas betting operators.
The latter means NZTR sees overseas bookies as potential business partners, not enemies.
Those running NZTR want change, they want all seven areas actioned in 18 months and it sounds like they are willing to convince or even go to battle with those inside the industry who stand in their way.
Coming on the back of the enormous changes already made since the Messara report, at TAB level, and with the historic agreements afoot between Ellerslie, Pukekohe and Avondale, thoroughbred racing may finally be gaining momentum to meaningful and permanent change.
Which will lead to the one factor always raised during any conversation in the racing industry: better returns - or as racing people like to call it, better stake money.
But this time it sounds like NZTR want much more than that.