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Post Time with Dan Gall

Post Time

The autumn of 2017 signifies the first time that Standardbred Canada has joined another sales company, Forest City Sales, to host a yearling sale.

The decision to join together did not come without its trepidation, questions and concerns for both parties and many of our stakeholders. However through perseverance, diplomacy, negotiation and a willingness to ultimately do what is best for the industry, we agreed that working with Forest City Sales is the right thing to do.

The toughest part of the decision was dealing with the naysayers who didn't want change, or were concerned about losing Standardbred Canada's identity, and the legacy of always hosting our own (Standardbred Canada) yearling sale.

It was only through the spirit of great co-operation and a willingness to do the right thing for the industry, by Ann Straatman and her team at Forest City Sales, that we were we able to agree that hosting one and not two yearling sales in Ontario, was going to be a more effective and efficient way to operate going forward, for not only the two organizations but most importantly for the customer.

Hosting Canada's largest yearling sale in London, Ontario in October will give both entities a chance to work together and highlight the best of the best. We will promote together, some of the finest product available, and also market our sport and industry to our members and potentially new members going forward.

This year we have an opportunity to showcase our sport with exhibits and seminars, and in an environment that offers the amenities that our customers have asked for.

Again, the road to arriving at this decision did not come without its bumps, stops, twists and turns. Keeping focussed on doing the right thing ultimately guided us through a path of obstacles, and unknown territory. But we believed and trusted one another throughout the process.

It was a great lesson for us all.

Change is never easy. It requires trust, courage, persistence, give and take, vision, and faith.

It is something that our industry needs to be reminded of and be sensitive to. Due to the long history of horse racing in this country (250 years!) there are certain attitudes and opinions that are entrenched as non-starters when wanting to table issues as discussion points.

However, if we can't question the status quo how does our industry grow and evolve to the ever changing world we live in?

I look at the issues that have been identified in the past year. From concerns regarding improved relations with the racetrack and industry associations, to worry about failed government relations, the in-fighting that seems prevalent in certain jurisdictions between horse organizations, and the need to promote a sport to the millennials, while addressing the eroding aging demographic of the industry.

The latest announcements that we have had regarding the departure of Rob Cook, Executive Director of Ontario Racing, Jamie Martin, Sr. Vice President of Racing at Woodbine Entertainment, and the retirement of Dr. Ted Clarke of Grand River Raceway, are cause for concern. All three individuals have been key in managing change for the industry, and are considered, in my opinion, critical Change Agents for our sport. These individuals and others like them across the country will be greatly missed.

Moving forward, it is just not effective or acceptable to go into our collective corners and bemoan with one another, what is wrong with the industry, the racetracks, the government, the associations, the stakeholders.

We need visionaries. We need dialogue. We need change.

This is an appeal to please, meet with your stakeholders, and begin having discussions rather than throwing darts and arrows. Put the stinky fish on the table and talk it through. I think you will be surprised that as much as you think you are worlds apart, we are actually a lot closer than you believe.

And remember, it's not personal it's only business.

So, rather than dig your heels in to avert change, let's embrace it and move forward.

We believe that aligning with Forest City Sales to create the London Selected Yearling Sale is the right thing to do. Now we could be wrong. Time will tell. But at least we are going into this change with eyes wide open, belief in one another, and the belief that we are doing, most importantly, what is the good for the industry, which is simply moving forward!

Dan Gall
President & CEO, Standardbred Canada
[email protected]

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