Well, I attended the recent Entain presentation on their way forward. In essence, it is simply that they will do it better. Their technology, we are told, is the best, sad about the platform that our Board at the time were confident would be developed to be superior to any of our competitors. Tabcorp at the time were spending up to $100m on IT annually, let alone whatever the Hong Kong Jockey Club saw fit for their upgrades. But smart we were, the true cost has been difficult to confirm but figures like $30m spring to mind, so you can see we saved $70m, and finished up with nothing.

So, Entain has arrived to plug the gaps, stop the ship from sinking. Good on them, their upfront risk is underwriting any difference between the guaranteed payout and whatever income.

Having sat through the presentation, I wondered: ‘How did we get into this position where it was only the rusty bilge pumps keeping us afloat?’

If it wasn’t for the Ministers edict that the deal confirmation was dependent on retaining existing sailors, Entain would have planks on both sides of the ship. You ten know what for.

John Allen, when Chief Executive of the Racing Board, visited me at Waikato. We had a good three hours on our subject. The vexed question that those at the coalface couldn’t come to terms with was a doubling of the cost of personnel over a very short time. ”But,” John responded, “We have the right people in the right place to go forward.“ They were of course the same crew with different titles.

Simply, we are being assured it will be better captained and crewed. I said it before; our previous navigators are lucky to have remained dry.

The season has nearly two months to run, without Australia it would be hard to spend the afternoon in front of TV. Our jumping enthusiasts are doing their utmost to remain relevant. Good on them, but their diminishing numbers leave us focused on a couple of stars. Still, for all that we have, as so often put our best foot forward where we need to in that most competitive of racing nations – Australia. With an amazing array of Group 1 NZ-bred winners, breeders will continue to aspire to maintain our international reputation.

Savabeel, the king of Waikato, may have a couple of barn mates putting their heads above the parapet but his $24m+ in stakes so far is an amazing number. Long may he last.


 I have just read the confirmation of Te Akau’s intention to open a stable at Cranbourne. I say confirmation as there has been consultation with their NZ owners all of whom are pleased to have the chance to extend the opportunities of their horses that may be competitive in Australia.

We are optimistic about our domestic future, but the new partnership of Entain and NZ Racing will take time for the benefits to consolidate. However, it is not just about the stake money, it is about Group racing. There is no doubt a number of our stakes races will be subject to scrutiny, we all know how hard they are to win regardless of their status anywhere but being able to filter prospects with a bigger spread of opportunities is attractive.

We have of course been able as owners to cherry pick prospects forever and no doubt will continue to do so through various stables, however this is a leap of faith in the continuing success of our breed.
Good luck to them.

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