Dargaville racing’s death knell

by Paul Campbell

The final axe has fallen on race meetings at Dargaville, with confirmation that last September’s release of a government-funded review from racing expert John Messara has now been signed off by New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing.

Dargaville is one of seven regional race tracks that will be closed for good, joining, in the North Island, Thames and Stratford, while in the south, Hokitika, Waimate, Winton and Wyndham will all close their gates.

Thoroughbred Racing chief executive Bernard Saundry says there were not the financial resources to maintain 48 venues. “So what we’re looking to do is to right-size New Zealand, so it has the right number of tracks.” The Messara review suggested closing 27 venues to ease financial pressures on the billion-dollar industry. The Dargaville closure is part of stage one of the cuts. Racing minister Winston Peters has welcomed the news.

“I believed the industry is in crisis, and we believe now we have solutions, and we’re putting them in place.”