If ever you needed an example of how far below the radar New Zealand’s racing industry is travelling, there was a glaring one on Newshub’s AM Show this morning.
While talking politics with, surprise, surprise, political reporter Tova O’Brien, host Duncan Garner queried the connection acting prime minister Winston Peters has with racing. It would appear that, like the racing minister, the industry itself has little relevance when it comes to this show.
In the past there have been cringeworthy interviews around the NZ Derby meeting – focus being fancy hats and how much the trophies are worth. Prior to the yearling sales there was a confused introduction of Sir Patrick Hogan with Garner claiming he was about to have “one last crack at the Karaka Million.”
Racing, once part of the nation’s fabric, is de trop and something which retains the stigma of back-alley betting shops and aged beer-swilling smokers, at least with this news outlet. So much for the marketing and communications efforts of the six-figure salary earners in Petone!
Every step of the way those charged with promoting the industry have missed their mark. They have failed to mark out a place for an industry which contributes $1.6 billion to the economy. Their sole focus with media is on top end events. Hospitality for media types at these events is more about the food and booze in isolated marquees rather than checking out the stars of the show and giving them an authentic experience.
It’s probably not their fault as one would expect few of those who work at the Racing Board have had an authentic racing experience themselves. They certainly have no grasp of the industry’s rich history.
For example, here we are, coming up to the 40th anniversary of the first day women rode against men in New Zealand (15 July 1978). Today females make up around half the riding ranks, some are even second-generation jockeys and there are numerous fantastic story opportunities. If we are relying on anyone from the NZRB to lead the way when it comes to celebrations and some media acknowledgement to mark the occasion then, I imagine, we will be left disappointed!
The incredible story around “letting” women ride against the men has been there since day one and this one could even appeal to Duncan Garner and the AM Show crew – well, maybe not Mark Richardson!
While the industry hierarchy may have had to been bitch-slapped into allowing women to apply for licences once they took that step they ensured there was no discrimination when it came to pay scales. From day one – 40 years ago – female jockeys have been paid the same amount as their male contemporaries.
Given the cacophony in the general media around gender equality – especially in the area of pay equity – this is one story which the industry should be shouting from the roof-tops.
I imagine there is a reason that the six-figure earners at the NZRB aren’t trumpeting this one (apart from the fact that any reference to pay rates might focus more unwanted attention upon the $60 million in salaries which the organisation siphons out of the industry). Most likely it is that they probably don’t know (and don’t care) because they are so far removed from the industry they work for they wouldn’t have the first clue what jockeys are paid.
I can’t imagine any of them have ever used any of that six-figure salary to enjoy a share (or two, or three) in a horse and therefore are aware of the actual costs of racing a horse in New Zealand.
It is no wonder then that media outlets like Newshub continue to think of racing as some misty, murky relic of the past – populated by the likes of Winston “and his mates.”
Those who are charged to do as follows – via the Racing Act 8 Objectives of the Boards The objectives of the Board are – (a) to promote the racing industry – have failed dismally and will not be missed upon their (hopefully imminent) departure!