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Post Time with Dan Gall

Post Time

A Year in Review

As I sat down in front of the keyboard to write this month’s article for TROT Magazine, I was thinking of summer, backyard barbeques and the beach, as well as the wonderful awakening of our new Standardbred foals, and the opportunity to see a new crop of stars race on the track this summer and fall.

And it also came to light, that July marks my first anniversary as the President and CEO of Standardbred Canada. So, I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to provide some key learnings and also share with you what we have been doing this past year as I acclimatized to a new industry, sport and job.

I am sure that I don’t need to tell you that it has been a very quick year. For some, Standardbred Canada has been moving too slow and for others we have been moving too fast but I believe that we have been moving at the appropriate speed for the association and the industry.

Upon hiring, I expressed to the Board of Directors the need to get in front of as many of our members and associations that I could in my first year which has not only been very informative and instructional but also extremely important to hear what our members have to say about our industry and our role here at Standardbred Canada.

It should come as no surprise that we have members that really believe in what we are doing and some other members that have no idea of what we are doing. As I set out this past year to hear from our members I received some excellent criticism and ideas of where our organization should be going, to drive and sustain a healthy and vibrant industry.

From my discussions in Alberta, PEI, Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, and meeting with the various regulating bodies and associations across the country, including our counterparts south of the border, everyone helped to assist in framing out the expectations of our members and stakeholders for the immediate future and for going forward.

The meetings that I have had with staff and our field reps were also critical to understand our current culture, and what our focus needs to be internally and externally for our members.

Having collected all this information and input, we have selected a small but mighty team to start chipping away at some of the more important issues that have been identified.

This past year, we joined with Forest City Sales to create what will be Canada’s biggest yearling sale this October, with the upcoming London Selected Yearling Sale. It’s going to be the biggest and best yearling sales event that our industry has seen!

With Ontario going through such a major transition in the horse industry, Standardbred Canada has been working and partnering with all the major players to ensure that we play a supportive role to the ever-changing landscape, by working with Ontario Racing, AGCO, and the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation. Our efforts have been focussed on collaboration and underlining the positivity that is occurring from the hard working efforts of these organizations.

Our team has completed a full Membership Fee Review, and we are making inroads on preparing changes that will address what our members have told us this past year with regards to their concerns and wants going forward.

In addition, we have also had some awesome brainstorming sessions with our stakeholders, members and employees to create value add for being a member of Standardbred Canada. These discussions have not been completed but remain a focus for this calendar year.

One of the more telling projects is the interest and support from members and our regulatory bodies in all jurisdictions for Standardbred Canada to facilitate discussions regarding creating a single Canadian rule book for harness racing. This continues to be a focus as we prepare to host meetings in early fall to discuss what this could look like going forward.

Standardbred Canada is also setting up a Canada-wide media task force that will look at ways of leveraging our excellent sports coverage that is being offered throughout our country, to be more focused in approach, and develop a national platform that will highlight and support our marquee events in Canada. The end-goal of the task force will be to create a major star system, to assist mainstream media in championing more coverage for our sport and for our identified events.

We have committed to opening our lines of communication and collaboration with all our stakeholders by way of beginning teleconferences and webinars to assist the industry in the sharing of information, and best practices for the many associations that we work together with.

Of course all this year Standardbred Canada has been working on preparing and planning for the World Driving Championship and World Trotting Conference. The former being held nationwide, and the latter on the lovely Prince Edward Island in mid-August during Old Home Week. A week that will end with our national event, ‘The Gold Cup and Saucer’.

Our conference will host 12 international countries and their delegates discussing international issues including Equine Welfare, Breeding, Wagering and Marketing. And smack dab in the middle of the conference we will open the doors for the horse racing industry to participate in our Standardbred Horse Racing Symposium featuring excellent industry experts, sharing with attendees the latest news and work being done in our sport.

While the conference is going on in PEI, Standardbred Canada will also be co-ordinating the World Drivers Championship beginning at Century Downs in Calgary, then to Ontario with legs at Mohawk and Georgian Downs, then on to the Hippodrome 3R in Trois-Rivières, with the final leg at Red Shores Racetrack and Casino in Charlottetown, PEI, the night before the Gold Cup and Saucer.

We would like to thank all our sponsors who have come on board to support the 2017 World Trotting Conference and Drivers Championship, and for more information on our sponsors, the World Driving Championship, and the Symposium, please go to the WDC/WTC section on standardbredcanada.ca.

So, these are some of the projects that are front-and-centre for the association, and we will continue to evolve and review our strategic plan so that it remains current, relevant and in alignment with our members' expectations and needs going forward.

Thank you for all your support and input so far. Our mission will continue to be member-focused as we move forward.

Have a great, and safe summer, and I hope you have some fun plans to celebrate our 150th anniversary as a nation and our 250th anniversary of horse racing in Canada.

As always, I appreciate your input. Please feel free to comment or write at dgall@standardbredcanada.ca.

Dan Gall
President & CEO, Standardbred Canada


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