2020 Harness Jewels - What Alert Level 4 Means for the 2019-20 Harness Season

The announcement from the government yesterday that New Zealand is moving to Alert Level 4 has seen racing across all codes cease until at least April 23rd. This will result in a significant restructuring of the balance of the current season. At present, we have no more insight into when racing might resume than the public does, however we need to be prepared to race again as soon as a revised Alert level allows us to do so.  

The HRNZ board has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 edition of the Harness Jewels and has formally advised the host club, Waikato BOP Harness, that this is the case. There has been no decision reached yet regarding what this means for where the 2021 Harness Jewels will be held. HRNZ understands that the connections of those horses striving for qualification will be disappointed by this news, however it is important that this be communicated as early as possible to allow connections to make decisions regarding the placement of their horses.

All codes will be under significant financial pressure as the TAB is impacted by the suspension of most global racing and sports. This is the most significant factor, along with the uncertainty around when racing will resume, in the board’s decision to cancel the Harness Jewels.  

A number of feature races were due to take place over the next four weeks, including a number of Group Ones; New Zealand Derby, Easter Cup, NZ Trotting Derby, with the Rowe Cup due to run on May 1st.  The suspension of racing will also affect qualification for the feature race administered by the New Zealand Sires Stakes board, including the new Harness Millions races. Any decisions on rescheduling these very important races will be a key element of the season review that the HRNZ team is currently working on. The NZSS board is committed to working with HRNZ and the industry to find a workable solution.

HRNZ will continue to issue regular updates the harness racing community as the situation evolves.

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