UHRA NEWSLETTER (November 2021)

COVID Re Opening

At the risk of going the early crow , welcome back to patrons who are now allowed on track and congratulations to all those Participants who have kept Harness Racing going during some 18 months of Lockdowns.

Prizemoney Increases

The Industry has welcomed HRNSW announcing two recent prizemoney increases for ‘bread and butter’ races and we eagerly await a flow on to Metropolitan Tuesday and Saturday races.

Trainer Remuneration

We welcome HRNSW increasing Trainer Remuneration which now brings us into line with our Thoroughbred counterparts. Of course we are still looking for Trainers to receive some financial acknowledgment for their horses which finish further back than 5th.

Breeding Bonus Increases

Another welcome initiative by HRNSW however we have asked that Trainers and Drivers receive some share in the Bonus system just as Thoroughbred Trainers and Jockeys do.

NSW Harness Racing Industry Rehoming Company

Ms Flora Robson is UHRA Representative on this Company. We thank Flora for accepting this position.

NR Handicapping System

In 2019 HRA introduced an NR Handicapping System without consultation with Industry. Some two years on and quite a few ‘enhancements’ later HRA advised there would be ‘a Review’. UHRA has continued to push for a Forum where Participants can air their views on the success of the System or otherwise. We are still holding our breath !

Amended Whip Rules September 2020

Another HRA set of Rules brought in without consultation and we understand a scheduled ’review’ has now been ‘parked’. UHRA has called for a National Forum on this matter , similar to the one held at Menangle in 2017. The last figures we took out showed that Drivers in NSW were contributing est $10,000 per month to Consolidated Revenue in whip fines. UHRA has stated we believe the Rule as written is not practical and the level of fines is unacceptable.

From the HRICG Desk (UHRA is a Member)

In 2014 the NSW Office of Liquor and Racing (now Office of Racing) called for Submissions for a 5 Year Statutory Review of the Harness Racing Act of 2009. Some 30 plus Submissions were received from interested Harness Racing Participants and the Review was released in May 2015 detailing a number of Recommendations for implementation into the HR Act. In June 2020 the previous Chairperson of HRICG inquired to Office of Racing as to why the Recommendations were never implemented and was advised the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry overtook our Review. HRICG were then asked to make an updated Submission to Office of Racing taking into consideration relevant issues that may have changed in the six year lay time.

HRICG which comprises UHRA , Breeders Assn , Owners Assn , NSWHRC , TAB Clubs and non – TAB Clubs , worked on their Submission and met with Office of Racing in March this year and the following is a summary of HRICG Members unanimous proposals which were put to Office of Racing.

Accountability and NSW Harness Industry

1. Strong desire for reinstating a ‘Minister for Racing’

2. Appointment of an Independent Racing Industry Ombudsman

3. Empowering ICAC to investigate allegations of corruption within HRNSW and the harness racing industry in NSW

4. Discontinuation of the role of HRNSW Integrity Auditor (subsequent to implementation of 2 and 3 above and a similar recommendation from the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry in NSW)

5. Engaging the Audit Office of NSW as the external auditor for HRNSW Financial Reports

6. Board of HRNSW to convene an Annual Conference for all Industry Stakeholders with presentations on key data

7. HRNSW to initiate Annual Customer/Stakeholder satisfaction Survey via Independent Consultancy with results to HRICG , presentation at Annual Conference , and inclusion in Annual Report to the Minister.

HRNSW Board Selection (HRICG position which was put to Office of Racing)

A person nominated By HRICG representing the Industry should be part of the selection panel

UHRA understands the Office of Racing has drafted Amendments to the HR Act for presentation to the Minister with a view to tabling in Parliament early next year. We await to see if any of the HRICG proposed amendments are incorporated by Office of Racing.

Industry Gazette

HRICG has advised HRNSW that it wishes to consider republishing an Industry Gazette (perhaps in an altered format to previously) with a view to improving communication which would include monthly information articles from UHRA , Owners , Breeders , Clubs , Trotters , Mini Trots , etc. We perceive some resistance however majority of HRICG members are committed to a Gazette.

UHRA Interaction with HRNSW

Up to March 2019 UHRA and HRNSW would endeavour to meet bi-monthly to discuss ‘racetrack’ and Licensee issues (as distinct from HRICG issues) where UHRA Committee Members , HRNSW Chairman (if available) , CEO and Chief Steward would attend. Meetings were held in a very courteous and respectful manner and it was felt they were of benefit to all concerned. Our last meeting was held in March 2019 and despite UHRA regularly putting forward Agenda items for discussion , no meetings have eventuated despite a lot of talk. Unfortunately there is no sugar coating this issue as it goes to lack of consultation with an accredited Industry body.

Membership and Tick the Box

Many years ago the UHRA initiated ‘Tick the Box’ on License renewals which certainly ‘made life easier’ and Owners , Breeders and Trotters followed suit and we found many Licensees joined all Associations. Unfortunately HRNSW advised HRICG they were reconsidering this concept which was met with strong resistance from HRICG Members and ‘Tick the Box’ remains.

UHRA traditionally placed a letter to Licensees in the License mailout however this year HRNSW decided it would not include the UHRA letter !!! We have therefore included that letter in this correspondence together with UHRA Membership form.

Our next Newsletter

As advised this is an Interim Newsletter and our next publication is scheduled for a few weeks time and will include:

- Reg u mate (Altrenogest)

- Review of Penalties

- OH&S and Duty of Care matters

- Breeders Challenge suggestions for next season

- The Pinnacle – feedback

- Sulky Fund update

- Marketing the Industry

- Substance Thresholds

- Annual General Meeting

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