SOUTHLAND HARNESS AWARDS
SUNDAY 14 AUGUST 2016 at ASCOT PARK HOTEL, INVERCARGILL
Doors open 4.30pm - Start 6 pm $70 PER HEAD
Tickets available from Karen Milne, Clark Barron, Neville Skinner, Peter Hunter
Murray Swain New South Island HRNZ Board Member (Friday 27th May 2016)
Murray Swain has always been passionate about harness racing and now heís got the chance at the highest level to put some of his ideas on the table.
Heís not new to administration having held positions as President of the Winton HRC and as a board of Southern Harness.
Although administration at this level has been a passing thought, Swain didnít expect an opportunity to take a position on the board of HRNZ would come so soon.
ďBeing on the board of Southern Harness was a thought, but not Harness Racing New Zealand. That just came about with Alisa (Smaill) retiring. Iíve been asked over the last few years if Iíd give it a go but the timing just hasnít been right,Ē he said.
The Swain name is well known in harness racing in Southland and Murray mixes farming and commercial eeling with horse training on his Roslyn Bush property.
He farms on 300 acres with mainly dry stock, fattening lambs and cattle.
ďIíll probably concentrate on cattle now as theyíre less labour intensive if Iím going to do this job so itís a bit easier instead of dagging sheep.Ē
Being on the HRNZ board means there will have to be other changes at home.
ďThere are about twelve meetings in Christchurch. I havenít told him yet but Aaron (son) will have to look after the horses when Iím away.Ē
As well as being a breeder, trainer, driver and administrator Swain also likes to have the odd bet and has a very good understanding of racing from a punters viewpoint.
He says the key thing in his new role is to listen to all industry players.
ďA lot of people out there complain about a lot of things. You just have to sift through it and work out which is worthy or not. I have a lot of ideas I can add to the industry and I think I can pull the clubs together. My intention is to be an asset (on the board).Ē
On the breeding front he currently has nine foals on the ground and six mares in foal with about thirty horses all up. And heís keen to ensure that other owners continue to breed.
ďIf you do breed to a lesser stallion I want you to get a fair return. My main aim is to look after the grass roots, encouraging people to breed horses and race them more.Ē
Over the years heís realised that selling is often the only way to remain sustainable in the industry.
ďIf you sell you go again. If you win a good stake it encourages you to go again. I think weíve got behind (in stakes) and weíve got some ground to make up.Ē
Over the years he has also trained and raced a number of handy horses, his best being Scoots a Holmes Hanover mare out of Outspoken which won seven races before she was sold to America in 2000.
ďShe won another thirty (races) in America against the best Free For All mares over there. At one point she was the fastest mare to leave Australasia. She won a half a million dollars in America.Ē
Other good winners from his stable were Radar Installed, the winner of 10 races. Hayton Brain a Sir Vancelot gelding won nine races and a further thirteen in Australia including the Group Two Celebrity Sprint, the Group Three FHRC Members Sprint, Group Three Village Kid Sprint at Northam and the Group Two Mount Eden Sprint. He also ran third in the Group One Australian Pacing Championship.He ended his career having won $369,672.
Mister Kentucky and Oomph were other good winners Swain has trained.
Although he acknowledges thereís plenty to learn about board protocol he says heís keen to offer his services on a number of subcommittees.
ďI think Iíve got a very good knowledge of handicapping. Iím also interested in setting conditions and rules for age group racing including concessions. Iíll see whatís available but I know where I want to be. I donít mind sitting out on the edge as long as itís sustainable. I also donít mind being wrong. Thereíll be some pretty knowable guys up there. You canít be scared to try and canít be scared to fail.Programming is very important too. We need to get every horse on the track every second week with just ten races. Harness Racing is at a very crucial point at the moment and failure isnít an option.Ē
Murray Swain will assume his new position following the Annual Conference on 30th July, replacing Ailsa Smaill who is retiring after being on the Board of HRNZ for the past 12 years.