Garry’s Corner – 16 February

Garry Chittick

Well, the sales are behind us. Te Rapa copped torrential rain, the racing gods are conspiring to make racing a horse more difficult than usual, the Hall of Fame dinner was a great night and full marks to their Board. So what to comment on? The challenge John Messara issued, start with a blank page so I will.

Where to start? Bear in mind this is partly a wish list without access to the mystery reports that may or may not make my task easier.

1.It is very apparent that escalating costs have prevented the trickle down to the risk takers required to maintain breeding and ownership. The requirements for constant IT upgrades, infrastructure improvements create a swimming against the tide scenario, the one where you plant your feet back on the sand only to be swept out again. This is not unique, we are not alone, this is life, and this is being in business. I remind Mark constantly that as long as the ups outweigh the downs we will go forward. So, it appears we have a choice; trundle along as we are, address the obvious management issues by introducing a clear, insightful audit process or operate under licence with a larger operator. Addressing the current administration, if this is genuinely the best we can expect, and it may be, we are doomed. Sounds dramatic, but all the indicators can’t be ignored, declines in breeding and ownership are not able to be instantly resuscitated.

It is the only time in history money has been raised to sustain stakes. The apparent investment in creating once again our own IT platform will, without doubt, attract the seemingly accepted cost overruns, rumour has it they have already achieved this goal. I know nothing about Paddy Power except the annual fee which if it was dependent on Sports Betting, will require an increase in turnover of $400 million. Good luck.

Should we align ourselves with an outside agency? Well, the mystery reports are just that.  Still a mystery. So my take on operating under licence is based on general discussion over a period of time. It will be subject to scrutiny as it should so here goes. Operating under licence does not involve any sale. It involves a negotiated fee to operate our business. This may not be as simple as it sounds but bearing in mind my earlier comments it must be on the table. What should the benefits be? Undoubtedly administrative savings, IT cost tailing, with the constant upgrading of IT we are never going to catch the bus, Australia is our main customer outside New Zealand it could be with their main provider expanding to dominate their market we are not included or needed. Some of the cons I have heard are our so-called loss of sovereignty, maybe but they effectively control our race programming now to match TV requirements. Domestically they would have no real interest in interfering how we run our codes, why would they? Is it possible, of course it is, John Allen dismissed the Deloitte document as not credible. Well let’s have a look. I don’t particularly care if this is not the panacea required, I just know the creek we currently up without a paddle needs an instant outboard of significant horsepower. So I would run with a bigger operator.

2.I really believe the codes need to operate independently. Competition motivates initiative. Can it be done, of course, it can modern technology will have no trouble identifying the betting origins.

3.An independent operator will provide coverage, managing TV and radio. Anything would be an improvement on the current shambles. You can guarantee it will be more cost-effective

4.When and how? Now and assemble the right people, we will gratefully accept any largesse Winston may provide but the biggest favour he could do us is to appoint right now a tight action group, including himself or nominee then we will see some action.

Now those who have other views, let me know, I am happy to be proven wrong, it has happened once before…I think.  Cheers from the Corner

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