More than 1,000 race meetings at 51 venues throughout New Zealand were confirmed today by the Dates Committee of the Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) for the forthcoming racing year.
The racing calendar, which covers the period from 1 August 2020 to 31 July 2021, follows consultation with the three racing codes, clubs and other recognised racing organisations of a revised draft racing calendar that reflected the impact of Covid-19 on the industry and the critical need for racing industry reform.
The final programme of racing includes a number of changes from the draft calendar following careful consideration of 100 submissions which covered feedback on a range of topics from scheduling changes to the allocation of racing dates. The key thoroughbred changes in the final calendar are:
- Increased number of Thoroughbred meetings from 273 to 278
- Conditional reintroduction of five dates to Avondale Jockey Club contingent on the development of regional racing plans before 31 December 2020
RITA Dates Committee Chair Edward Rennell said the final calendar was intended to maximise the benefit for the thousands of New Zealaders who rely on racing for their livelihoods. “The significant effort, attention and passion that went into the submissions enabled RITA to develop a final calendar which we believe meets the immediate needs of racing next year and provides scope for the industry to address the critical need for venue intensification,” he said.
“Many of the submissions provided thoughtful and constructive feedback on specific issues in the original draft, however, there was also general recognition that ongoing changes to the calendar were required. “In several cases suggestions were put forward to develop solutions that are in the best interest of sustaining racing in regions.”
Licences allocated to the Avondale JC are conditional on regional reviews of racing in the Auckland district being completed by 31 December 2020. This will allow the recommended outcome of the review to be considered prior to the allocation of dates for the 21/22 season.
RITA will also engage with the codes to ensure greater alignment with their future venue plans, including encouraging regional reviews to be undertaken in the Tasman, Mid Canterbury to North Otago and Southland regions.
“In allocating dates for the year, the Committee’s focus has been to deliver a schedule that maximises the benefit for the entire racing industry, while also reflecting the unprecedented and ongoing impact of Covid19,” Rennell said.
Venues which have not been allocated meeting dates in 2020/21 are Gisborne, Stratford, Te Awamutu, Te Teko, Waikouaiti, Waimate, Waipukurau, Wairoa and Wyndham.
The Dates Committee is required under the Racing Industry Act to set the racing calendar to comprise all of the dates in the subsequent racing year on which betting races will occur. Aspects relating to the ongoing use of venues is now subject to a clear legislative process as part of the Racing Industry Act 2020 and aligned with the intent of the new Code-led model established by the Act.