Racing club bucking trend financially

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The Kurow Harness Racing Club is bucking a trend that is seen more frequently around smaller racing clubs these days. The club, which held its annual meeting in Kurow last Tuesday, is in a sound financial position given it only hosts one meeting a year in August. It posted a small surplus, after depreciation, of $9659 for the year ended March 31. Total revenue was $140,632 compared with total expenses of $130,973. However, the surplus figure was small change compared to the club’s cash and cash equivalent reserves. At March 31, that stood at $644,884. Kurow Harness Racing Club president Tony Wall said the club’s strong financial position was down to efficient and intelligent financial management.
“I do think we’re in a good position. Just the management through the committee members over the last number of years, probably. We’ve built a good reserve.” While the club and its infrastructure was in good shape overall, Mr Wall said the major hurdle the club faced, like many other smaller clubs around the country, was attracting punters through the gates, especially during winter.
Live television broadcasts of race meetings and the continued rise of online betting had also had a huge impact on attendances in recent years. “It is an issue. It’s because of the time of year we race. It’s quite hard to get people out from in front of their nice, warm fire and out of their comfort zones when the weather is not good. “We’re lucky we have our big race on a Sunday when there hasn’t been too many other meetings.” He said the club had not done anything drastic to try to build crowd numbers.
“If we were racing at Christmas time, when people are in holiday mode and the weather’s a bit warmer, it would be different, so it’s just a little bit difficult for us.” One significant issue discussed at the annual meeting was Harness Racing New Zealand’s idea to create an Otago-wide club, which would involve the dissolution of the existing Otago clubs and the establishment of a “super club” that would receive off-course commission and pay the stakes for all race meetings in the area, similar to the Gallop South model.
Mr Wall believed few, if any, Otago harness racing clubs supported the idea, including the Kurow harness club. “We’re quite happy with the way we are tracking at the moment. We don’t see any major advantage of going down that road at this stage.” However, he said the club would continue to discuss the matter. The club’s meeting this year is scheduled to take place on Sunday, August 7.