NZ Racing stops bonuses

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) is to halt its added winning stakes bonuses for selected fillies and mares and stayers’ races from February.

The bonuses provided an extra $NZ600,000 per season in winning stakes.

NZTR chief executive Paul Bittar said the bonuses were made possible by the Racing Board’s surplus from the 2006-07 season, which was more than had been projected.

They strengthened the stakes for lead-up races to fillies and mares black-type events and for stayers’ events, especially for three and four-year-old stayers.

"As with all new initiatives, NZTR has assessed these bonuses to measure their value and we do not believe we are seeing an effective return on our investment. The results show that there has been no impact on starter numbers," Bittar said.

"Armed with this information, together with the Racing Board’s forecasts of a downturn in profits this season of at least $NZ16 million across the three codes (galloping, harness and greyhound), and the prospect of further difficulties into 2009-10, we see no merit in continuing with this additional funding."

At last week’s NZTR annual meeting, chairman Guy Sargent said the thoroughbred code was looking at a 12 per cent fall to its funding and this was expected to continue into 2009-10.

NZTR figures for the season to date (from August 1) show a 7.9 per cent drop in turnover compared to the same period last year.

Off-course turnover has dropped 9.2 per cent and on-course by 8.6 per cent, but fixed odds betting turnover has risen by 12.9 per cent.