Feedback sought on big shake up to racing calendar

Submissions are now open into a proposal to increase the number of harness race meetings in this country from August this year.

TAB operators Entain has floated the idea of potentially having extra meetings in the 2024/25 season with the majority of them being held early in the week, mainly on a Monday and Tuesday.

"Entain's presence opens up an opportunity to do things differently and we are excited about that but a huge amount of work is required in terms of horse numbers, race day costs and funding," says HRNZ's General Manager - Racing, Catherine McDonald.

Entain has identified more than 80 dates where potential meetings could take place (these are denoted in square brackets in the draft calendar - see below).

Of the extra meetings most of them would be held in the North Island, mainly at Cambridge and Auckland with the remainder at Addington. It's been suggested the stakes for those races would be in the $4500-$5000 range and they will be for the lower class horses.

Another initiative Entain's proposing is to have Addington and either Auckland or Cambridge race on Friday nights together. The aim is to have a consistency of product on a Friday night, with plans for a Friday Night Harness Show with good lead-ins and interviews to help grow the night.

In coming weeks HRNZ plans to extensively liase with clubs, kindred bodies, trainers and other stake-holders to gauge the viability of the proposed changes to the racing calendar.

"At this stage the calendar is a draft only and none of these changes are set in stone. We recognise that the code will need to make its own assessment and that's why we need as much feedback as possible," says McDonald.

That consultation period will conclude on Monday, February 19 with HRNZ and the other codes needing to make a formal submission to the TAB Dates Committee by March 1.

The three codes will then come together with the TAB/Entain to finalise the calendar. NZTR and GRNZ are currently in the process of finalising their draft calendars with TAB/Entain and will put their calendars out for consultation in due course.

To view the draft calendar for harness racing click here

For more information contact [email protected]

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