New Zealand racing's radical period of change looks set to continue well into the New Year and beyond.
That is the only conclusion to be drawn from a huge operational review announced by New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing which could see major personnel changes in the main racing code in the next two seasons.
NZTR interim chair Cameron George, also the chief executive of the New Zealand Warriors rugby league club, heads a predominantly new NZTR board and has made it clear he wants a more efficient code.
While respectful of thoroughbred racing's proud history, George doesn't want it to become a hindrance as the code seeks to cut costs, maximise returns and ultimately increase stakes.
"I'm excited by the options we have in front of us to create a vibrant future and implement actions to energise, excite and set up a sustainable future, in line with our own way of thinking and considerations from the Messara Report," said George.
While change is in the offing for the code, NZTR chief executive Bernard Saundry is confirmed in that role until at least the end of the 2022 season.
"Our priority was to ensure we continued with Bernard Saundry as CEO until July 31, 2022," says a NZTR statement.
"This enables the board to build on existing relationships for the greater benefit of the industry in the short to mid-term.
"A number of other actions are being managed into place for the longer term.
"To have stability in the CEO role for a further 12 months beyond this racing season is sensible, and crucial for our industry in reaching its long-term potential."
In addition to Saundry's extension, the board resolved to undertake an organisational review of NZTR.
The statement used the usual corporate language saying the review "will include but is not limited to structure, capability, resource, culture, and location".
What that means for people in the industry is that basically nothing is off the table. What seems apparent is NZTR will be looking for a new chief executive at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season. The statement says the NZTR Board collectively believe it's time all parts of the business are put to the test of what is best for the industry and its future.
Some of the key industry issues to be reviewed include:
● Future racing calendar
● Club hubs and venue planning
● Future use of the whip
● Funding for 2021/22 season
● TAB NZ board selection process
● Improving training and education outcomes by way of a training, development and welfare programme
● Assist in transitioning to the Racing Integrity Board
● IT systems integration and upgrade with Racing Australia and Technology One
The changes upcoming at NZTR come soon after a new chief executive and chair were announced at Harness Racing New Zealand, and with a new chief executive of TAB NZ likely before Christmas.