Garry’s Corner – 2 November

Garry Chittick

Well, here we go again. Yep the annual NZ breeders have lost their way. We no longer have the capacity to provide horses for the great handicap event of the year. Those that annually pass these pearls of wisdom I say good luck to them, may the best previous hurdler give them the glory they seek, and of course the money. Is this envy, of course, l, like most racehorse owners, would love the Cup on the mantelpiece but can I devote my time and investment on the off chance we can keep Waikato Stud afloat on the back of a two-mile handicapper. You know we have not stood a big number of stallions, most of these that have had horses of racing age have had Cup starters.

I cast my eye over recent and current sires at stud in NZ, you wil be surprised at the number who successfully raced up to 2400 metres, horses who from our genetics will produce 3200-metre performers but should we worry. There are, regretfully only four 3200 metre races in Australasia that would that would be on most owners desire to win list. All four handicaps! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy as a spectacle staying events, but the market, determines our survival. What’s changed, well the ratings to enable a start have me confused. When a horse that wins the time honoured Metropolitan, Group One struggles to make the field, an Auckland Cup winner suffered the same ignominy and so on. There needs to be a number of qualifying races, races that will improve in quality knowing the result leads to run in the Cup. The results of these races will enable punters to identify and follow form. I recently discussed this topic with one of the great trainers Dave O’Sullivan, my angle being did we have the trainers to develop these horses as in the past. His view was the makeup of current ownership had changed, the Cups horses he and other Matamata trainers had so much success with were generally mature when they received them. The rural owners both here and Australia understood time was of the essence. I can understand how it seems easy to snap up a qualified European Cup chance but remember the number, four two-mile races of note.

Just to finish this subject, a well known recent Cup winner made the profound statement that NZ can no longer produce horses of suitable standard to compete, he may be right but if you run your eye over winning race times, you won’t be surprised to see they have not improved one iota. Food for thought, good luck to all, I won’t be there, the first time in many years but not knowing the horses makes it hard to find racing people you know.

The progressing of the Messara report on the surface appears pedantic, well its a big shift in structure that can’t be treated lightly. The many views being disseminated since the deadline of 19/10 are apparently in the hands of the DIA, they, apart from gaming legalities, would be the last people I would ask to assess the risk or reward opportunities we are hopeful of but someone has to be the arbiter for the Minister.

Never a more important time for leadership our Racing Board Chairperson is currently invisible. By the way, I always believed the publicity engendered by the so-called Tax break on top colts was inevitable, to see in the Select Committee presentations only two of last years sales colts qualified confirms the effort may have been better directed. Good weeks racing ahead Cheers G

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