The Waikato “The Kentucky of Australasia” is one of the front runners for Hon Winston Peter’s suggested all-weather super track for the thoroughbred industry. Supporting the local industry by looking after local breeders, owners, trainers and staff whilst attracting international interest is a major opportunity not to be scratched.
The New Zealand Racing site describes the New Zealand thoroughbred industry as one of the most successful in the world, stating that the industry produced 3500 foals and an estimated value of $138M generated from exporting 1700 horses. The industry contributed $1.6 billion to the economy last year, it employs approximately 18,000 FTE nationally. Over the 156 years of the Melbourne Cup, 45 have been won by NZ bred horses and over the last five racing seasons in Australia 34% of all the Group 1 races have been won by NZ bred horses.
This success is attributable to high quality pasture, large open paddocks and a mild climate. If there’s one thing that comes to mind, it’s the mighty Waikato. How can we, as a region, support this lucrative industry? How can we future-proof its success within the Waikato and attract more champions? How great would it be to have an all-weather super track located in the Waikato. The existing clubs can link and feed into it in some way of mutual benefit, but that’s semantics. What’s key here, is what is best for the region. There is an opportunity to set ourselves apart and help grow an industry with huge economic benefits. The Government has up to $10 million to spend on this development. And just to be clear, an all-weather track refers to the racing surface at an existing racecourse, not a totally new facility. Regardless, let’s be the front runner in that race.
As Waipa have branded themselves “The Homes of Champions”, this term is supported by other sporting and business ventures. One needs to look at Avantidrome for cycling, Karapiro for rowing, Mystery Creek for Fieldays and Equidays. We also breed champion horses. If we want to think with aspiration in mind, we need to look to future proof our region. The previously mentioned venues are regional assets. They are connected and accessible. Commute times from one part of the region to the other are not long comparative to the likes of Auckland. It’s time to look at the big picture and acknowledge the possible flow-on benefits this type of investment will bring.
Ageing infrastructure is not just an issue for the racing industry. Alternatives need to be considered. Why shouldn’t we be jumping up and down in the stands and support the Government’s willingness to invest in a super track? Come to the Waikato. We are mighty, and this kind of aspirational development will align nicely in our region. Let’s grab that golden ticket with both hands.
Graham Dwyer, Chairman of Agenda Waikato
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