News & Events

2013 Harness Jewels to include a combined 4 & 5 Year Old category

At its meeting on 1 June, the HRNZ Board undertook a review of the Harness Jewels. In six years this has become an integral part and highlight of the harness racing season.
 
For 2013, the conditions of the Harness Jewels will remain unchanged with one major exception - a combined 4 & 5YO category.

The 2013 Harness Jewels will be run at Ashburton Raceway on Saturday, 1 June. Current stakes levels of $150,000 for pacers and $100,000 for trotters will be retained, with nine races over a mile and 12 starters in each race. Finalists will continue to be determined based on stake earnings won in New Zealand in the season excluding Sales Series races, as is currently the case, on the basis these are not open to all horses.

The one change agreed to is that in 2013 the three 4 Year Old races will be extended and become 4 & 5 Year Old races. All 4 and 5 Year Old horses who race during the 2012/13 season will be eligible to contest the Harness Jewels.

The objective in extending this is to create additional racing opportunities and incentives for 5 Year Old horses. Further background to support this change is as follows:
•    To allow horses an additional year to compete in feature age group races;
•    To extend the racing life of some mares by another season, providing a same sex feature race opportunity away
    from the better entires and geldings;
•    To provide increased feature race opportunities for 5YO entires and geldings who are not NZ Cup, Rowe Cup or
    Grand Circuit bound;
•    To hopefully slow the sale of horses overseas following the completion of their 4YO season and the perception
    they have reached their mark;
•    To provide more competitive and higher quality group racing, hopefully with increased turnover;
•    To continue to grow pathways for horses to race more in New Zealand;
•    To provide increased opportunities for slower maturing horses to compete in age group features, particularly
    trotters; and
•    It is acknowledged that whilst 5YO’s are included, they still have to gather stakes to qualify, which may be more
    difficult if they are higher up the grades.

HRNZ has agreed to this change based on feedback and consultation with a number of industry participants. This change will encourage increased participation and racing of 5YO horses, which will benefit field sizes, turnover and overall industry income.
 
A number of clubs have already made such a change by staging 4 & 5YO Group races in the current season. HRNZ is to encourage other clubs currently staging 4YO Group races to make all of these 4 & 5YO features for the reasons outlined above.
 
A copy of the Conditions for the 2013 Harness Jewels is available at http://www.hrnz.co.nz/news/harness-jewels.