01/30/2008 1:00AM

New Zealand trims owners' jockey fees


In a new program designed to boost owners' earnings, New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Inc., the body that runs racing in New Zealand, will pay jockeys' fees for more 70 percent of all races run in that country beginning on Friday, Feb. 1.

On that date, owners in New Zealand will no longer be required to pay riders' fees in flat races from the maiden level up to mid-level handicaps. Neither will they have to pay fees for maiden jumpers. In flat racing, owners will have to pay jockeys' fees only for stakes races and the best handicaps and allowances. The plan includes 2,135 races in New Zealand, more than 70 percent of the total run there. The scheme is expected to save owners more than $1.55 million per year.

"This initiative is in keeping with one of our primary responsibilities of increasing returns to owners," said Paul Bittar, chief executive of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing. "It comes exactly one year after the scrapping of nomination and acceptance fees, which has returned a similarly significant amount to owners over the past 12 months. The industry will absorb the new costs on behalf of the owners."