New Zealand's two leading greyhound kennels have so far won prizemoney of $700,000 this season. The Cantebury kennels of Dave (pictured) and Jean Fahey; and John McInerney's Darfield kennels are New Zealands leading prizemoney earners so far this season.
With two greyound trainers having won $700,000 already for this season and that the fact that the code is planning a $220,000 race at Addington in October 2008, has rattled a few cages around the horse world this week. The good news is that it will only get better next season.
The New Zealand Racing Board had already guaranteed $115m in payout for this season because of the agreement with Tabcorp in Australia over commingled betting and will actually distribute $119m and next season promise $129m. It has guaranteed that 50 per cent of the increase will represent returns for owners.
This is all great news but the greyhound code, being the newest kid on the racing block and therefore more efficient in what is anyway a lower cost operation, is poised to make the most of it.
Against harness trainers, the Faheys would rank fourth in stakes won behind Mark Purdon/Grant Payne ($1.6m); Tim Butt and Phil Anderson ($1.16m) and Steven Reid ($914,000).
Against thoroughbred trainers the Faheys would rate second in the South Island (behind Michael Pitman with $1.28m) though just outside the top 10 of trainers overall. A few years ago this could have been considered unthinkable. While individual statistics can be misleading in 2006-2007 three harness stables won over $1m and at best it will be four this season. Last season four thoroughbred trainers won over $1m (top $1.9m) while this year the Walker stable will easily top $2.5m (it won the Kelt) and three others should top $1.5m.
Still, with fees of $12 a day and a very expensive imported dog being about $20,000 the cost effectiveness in favour of greyhounds is fairly impressive against that of horses which will cost about $20,000 a year to run.
Our statistics reveal that even with stakes payments almost doubling in five years it is still not a great financial carrot to race a horse. Rising costs of buying them, sharply rising costs of keeping them and the usual interminable search for a good one along with sheer bad luck will always restrict the number of people prepared to take the gamble. So the increases in stakes should be part of a long-term plan to help more take that gamble.
Whether the industry can go on increasing stakes for owners at this rate without diverting more to infrastructure costs (refurbished facilities, new computers, all weather tracks) will be the test of the future. At the moment big increases in many Australian gallops meetings are the good news on the turnover front. A number of New Zealand feature meetings in both codes are well off budget. The reduced tax base which has fired up the amazing increases of the past 12 months or so needs turnover increase to just keep up with inflation. If not those rising costs could make more ordinary racing citizens think about racing a greyhound instead.
Courtesy : NZ The Press