Trainer Shaune Ritchie. Photo: Trish Dunell
Cambridge trainer Shaune Ritchie is one of many industry participants appreciative of Minister for Racing Winston Peters announcement last week of a $72.5 million COVID-19 emergency support package for the racing industry.
Ritchie said it was important that members of the general public understand that the $1.6 billion industry supports 15,000 full-time racing industry jobs.
“I got a chart through the other day and it has been on facebook a couple of times and I thought it was quite interesting,” Ritchie said.
“It said one racehorse employs all of these people – vets, vet nurses, breakers, feed merchants, blacksmiths, trainers, trainers staff, breeders and people who work for owners.
“One racehorse employs a hell of a lot of people and racing itself generates so much employment that I don’t think the base of people understand that.”
The multiple Group One winning trainer lauded the Government and in particular Minister Peters for the package, which included $50 million relief grant for the Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA); Up to $20 million in funding to construct two new all-weather race tracks; and $2.5 million for the Department of Internal Affairs to fast track work on the online gambling revenue, and address loss of revenue impacts on community and sport groups.
“We just make a point of saying thank you,” Ritchie said.
“There are a lot of people coming out and saying you’re going to squander it or you’ve got to do something different, and we get that. But I think what has been missed in the mix is that this bloke has just saved our livelihoods.
“He basically pulled us out of a hole and he took what was probably going to be a $50 million loan from the Government, which would have been difficult to pay back, to a $72.5 million grant and no other politician in New Zealand could have pulled that off.
“I take my hat off to him. It is saving not only mine, but my staff’s jobs and I’d like to think it will save an entire industry.”