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No more training at Tauherenikau

Racing will continue at Tauherenikau but training will end next month. PHOTOS/FILE


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The training of horses at the Tauherenikau racecourse is to cease from the end of next month.

The lack of trainers using the course near Featherston has made the operation unprofitable for the Wairarapa Racing Club, who decided to close the training centre.

“Last year, the training centre ran at a substantial loss with as many as six trainers working horses at Tauherenikau,” the club said in a letter to trainers.

“The number of active trainers now has reduced to three. This will see further income reduced from training.”

Wairarapa Racing Club general manager Matthew Sherry said the training centre must pay its way.

“It has to be a viable business operation, and the training side has been unprofitable. The reality is that we don’t have the trainers,” he said.

Don Fuge, Frank Stammers, and Margaret Loveday, who has been travelling from the Hutt Valley to work her horses, have been the regular users of the course.

Frank Stammers … no need to close Tauherenikau to trainers.

Long-time Tauherenikau trainer Stammers said there was no need to close the training centre.

“The club has allocated race days, and they should be supporting the local people in racing – the owners and the trainers,” he said.

“There’s not a lot of costs involved, the sand track was closed in November, and no one has to open up for us. It shouldn’t be happening.”

Stammers said he had referred the decision to the New Zealand Trainers’ Association, who he hoped could encourage the club to revisit the closure.

Stammers said he hadn’t decided what he would after the closure. One option was to travel to the Masterton Racing Club’s Opaki Training Centre, north of Masterton to work his horses.

“It’s a 40-minute drive for me to Opaki, and I’m well set up down here where my horses are stabled privately.”

The Wairarapa Racing Club have lost their October 8 race date but have retained their popular race days on January 2 and Waitangi Day.

Sherry said the club need to concentrate on making a success of their two key race days which attracted large crowds with many from outside the region attending.

The popular race days could look a bit different with the likelihood that there will be no harness racing.

Wairarapa Harness Racing Club president Ray Southey confirmed that the future of the club is in doubt with the strong possibility they won’t be allocated any dates.

The club have held four races for several years at the January 2 meeting at Tauherenikau and have regularly raced at the Manawatu Raceway.

“All harness racing has stopped in the lower North Island and no licences are being issued,” he said.

“That means there will be no racing in Palmerston North and at tracks like Hawera, Stratford, New Plymouth, and Otaki where they’ve held a grass meeting.”

Southey said 34 horses were trained in Manawatu and the meetings always attracted good numbers from the South Island.

“All the decisions are being appealed, and a proposal that we work in with Manawatu Greyhound Racing Club meetings put forward.”

Masterton Racing Club waive track fees for Opaki horses

A picture of the Opaki Training Centre taken in 2005.

The Masterton Racing Club are easing the pressure on trainers after the covid-19 lockdown.

Club president Ray Southey confirmed the club waived track fees for the Opaki Training Centre from April 1 until August 31.

“With the track closed in part of March and all of April and then not having the opportunity to race horses, trainers’ and owners’ incomes have been heavily reduced. It’s the least we can do to help in these difficult times.”

Southey estimated that from 40 to 45 are trained at the track by the training centre’s 14 trainers.

The Masterton Racing Club have been given one race date on the draft calendar for the 2020-21 season – on Easter Saturday, April 3.

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