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TasRacing needs steady hands in charge to stay the course

Related Story: TasRacing $80k payment to former CEO under spotlight

[Four CEOs in six years, three ministers in six months and an outgoing chairman.

Instability at the top of TasRacing has industry stalwarts concerned about the future, and it's not hard to see why.

The organisation continues to leak high-profile employees, and seems unable to hold senior figures in their roles for any longer than a handful of years.

Off the back of the Sarah Courtney saga, the racing portfolio has been handballed to its third minister in six months.

Ms Courtney had held the racing portfolio, along with primary industries, but was shifted to resources after revealing she was in a relationship with the secretary of the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment.

TasRacing is also on the hunt for a new chief executive officer — its fifth, including interims, in six years — and a key member of the team heading up the track refurbishment at the Elwick racecourse in Hobart, Richard Emmanuel, has also resigned.

Some within the industry have their doubts over whether or not the new track will be good to go for the running of the 2020 Hobart Cup.

Perhaps of most concern is the timing of the departure of chairman Dean Cooper.

Cooper's three-year tenure is up in November but he happily admits that, given the wide-ranging movement within the organisation, he should be staying on.

"My personal preference was to stay, not necessarily for the three years, but for two [more] months so that there's a steadying hand there, working with the board that I've worked with for some time," he said.

The advertising process for the new chief executive role also raised eyebrows in racing circles.

Following Vaughan Lynch's departure for personal reasons, the job was advertised earlier this year before being taken down.

It didn't reappear until earlier this month.

It's believed more money has been sought from Treasury to adequately pay the new CEO, hence the hold up.

Last financial year, past CEO Vaughan Lynch was paid a base salary of $194,000.

TasRacing pacing

TasRacing posts loss despite healthy stakes

On the track, things are going okay.

The number of race meetings has remained consistent with previous years, but overall races and starter numbers hit 10-year lows.

Stakes money is the big-ticket item for those in the industry, and increases across all three codes — thoroughbreds, pacing and greyhounds — has earned a big thumbs up from the major players.

More than half a billion dollars was raked in through wagering — a new record.

Despite that, TasRacing recorded an overall loss of $106,517.

It's only increased the calls for a point-of-consumption tax to be introduced on betting, a move which, if successful, would hand the racing industry a bigger slice of the wagering pie.

"The bulk of corporate bookmaker support goes into New South Wales and Victoria," Tasmanian Racing Club chairman Andrew Scanlon said.

"Other states have put a point-of-consumption tax in and we need to do the same, and we'll continue to talk to the Government about that."

It looks likely the organisation will also look deeply into the state of Standardbred breeding for harness racing.

In 2002, there were 308 services of mares conducted in Tasmania.

This year, that number sits at just 34 — a 92 per cent decrease.

Breeders like Sue Streit are few and far between, and they're feeling the pinch.

"It's a vicious circle, because if the horses aren't here, then they [trainers] have to go interstate," she said.

"We need to get more faith in the process so that they'll buy from here again. The numbers just aren't here anymore."

Applications for the new CEO position close next Monday.

Whoever gest the job will be expected to play a major role in uniting the various factions of the racing industry and ensuring it prospers for years to come — a task nobody, as yet, has been quite able to nail.

Original Article

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