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October race meeting scratched

The Wairarapa Racing Club is working towards its January 2 and February 6 meetings at Tauherenikau next year. PHOTO/FILE

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Retaining their popular January 2 and Waitangi Day meetings is the focus for the Wairarapa Racing Club.

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing [NZTR] has published a proposed calendar for July through to early November to give owners, trainers and racing participants some certainty for the next six months.

That has resulted in the Wairarapa Racing Club losing their Thursday, October 8, meeting, but general manager Matthew Sherry said that was not unexpected.

“NZTR have set the races for high horse population areas,” he said. “You will see quite a few meetings at tracks like Hawera and New Plymouth, where there are a lot of horses trained. There’s nothing for Woodville or Trentham, and there’s only one meeting at Otaki. They have to rationalise and it makes common sense.

“The key thing for us is to get on track for our January and February meetings.”

The January meeting at Tauherenikau regularly attracts a crowd in excess of 10,000 people, while the Waitangi Day meeting features the listed North Island Breeders Stakes.

The NZTR is targeting to resume racing in July, with meetings restricted to six courses – Pukekohe, Te Rapa, Wanganui, Awapuni, Riccarton and Invercargill.

“We acknowledge that the situation in the national fight against covid-19 is changing rapidly, and accordingly final decisions about the programme of racing for August-November will be made by early July,” NZTR said.

“We can’t confirm industry funding or stakes levels until we get more information from RITA [Racing Industry Training Agency] on its 2020-21 budget.

“We felt it was important that the industry get some draft racing dates so we can start getting horses ready for racing.”

NZTR said the focus for the August through November period has been on allocation of meetings by venue.

“We reiterate that every club has a role to play in the future of NZ racing and allocation of licences to clubs will be considered as part of the consultation phase for 2020-21,” NZTR said.

“These are incredibly challenging times and we must focus on what is best for thoroughbred racing and what will get the most horses back racing as quickly as possible.

“In working up the proposed calendar 55 trainers have been contacted, and then deeper discussions have been held with trainer representatives, the Pattern and Jumps Committees, club administrators and NZTR personnel.

“All those who worked on the calendar have had to step away from tradition, consider the future of the industry, and structure a calendar to fit this new environment.

“It’s a complex piece of work to deliver a cohesive spring calendar which will allow trainers and owners to plan campaigns for their horses.”

One major change to spring racing is that the Group One New Zealand 1000 Guineas [1600m] and Group Two New Zealand 2000 Guineas [1600m] could be transferred from Riccarton to the North Island for next season.

The move to covid-19 Level 3 restrictions will allow for the training of horses to resume on Tuesday.

The return to the Opaki training track couldn’t come quick enough for trainer Roger Allan.

He said it takes about six weeks to two months to get a horse ready to race and his horses are looking good and ready to get back into their work after spelling on his Carterton property.

Additional reporting NZ Racing Desk

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