HRNZ Statement on Dates Calendar

Central Districts, Timaru and Forbury Thrown Harness Racing Lifeline

Three harness racing clubs, Manawatu, Timaru and Forbury, have been given a lifeline for the 2020-21 season.

When Harness Racing New Zealand (HRNZ) announced their proposed new season programme recently, all three clubs had been dropped from the schedule.

However, following submissions from the clubs and amendments from HRNZ, RITA (Racing Industry Transition Agency) has decided to give the Forbury club 10 dates, Manawatu six and Timaru three.

Phil Holden, Acting CEO for HRNZ, said that the board has been taken by surprise by RITA’s announcement, as it included major changes to the final programme that HRNZ submitted.

“The board was impressed by the depth and quality of the submissions made by the clubs and the willingness of clubs, especially those in the Central Districts, led by Manawatu HRC, to engage positively and attempt to put forward a collaborative and revitalised approach”.

“However, we believe our initial thoughts on Forbury Park and Timaru were correct and in our final submissions back to RITA we did not include them in next season’s programmes,” he said.

From the proposed new season calendar released to the industry on 15 May, Invercargill will lose five meetings and Addington three to accommodate Forbury, and Addington will lose a further three to Timaru.

The new calendar will race at 25 venues in the 2020-21 season, down from 31 in the current year, with the number of meetings dropping from 260 (originally programmed for this season) to 257. The venues missing from last season are Wyndham, Hawera, Taranaki, Stratford, Waimate and Geraldine.

HRNZ’s proposed programme was aimed at improving wagering income by racing more often at the higher performing venues, better aligning meetings with the regional horse population and helping reduce servicing costs with the fewer number of venues. This new programme remains a work in progress and HRNZ is committed to working alongside RITA as this new era unfolds.

“Every club will be under close scrutiny throughout the 2020-21 season and their performances will influence the following year’s programme. This new calendar will also give clubs time in which to develop their own regional development plans as requested by RITA,” he said.

A summary of the changes in the programme confirmed by RITA include:

Manawatu Harness Racing Club/Central Districts Racing Clubs

To add six, 8-race programmes, plus four four-race dual code twilight meetings held in conjunction with the Palmerston North Greyhound Racing Club. HRNZ also supports having a 4-race programme as a dual code meeting with the Wairarapa RC at Tauherenikau and the Kapiti Coast HRC having a 4-race programme as a dual code meeting with the Otaki-Maori RC at Otaki. These dates will form part of an initial single season review package of meetings and trials for the Central Districts/Taranaki Clubs which will be rigorously reviewed.

Forbury Park

Forbury will hold 10 meetings, nine at Forbury and one at Wingatui.

Timaru Harness Racing Club

Timaru will hold three daylight meetings.

Southland Harness Racing Clubs

Wyndham – There will be no racing at the Wyndham Racecourse, with the meetings being reallocated.  The club retains its summer meeting on 6 January at Cromwell.

Gore - Gore Harness Racing Club will race on December 27th on the grass at Gore. All other dates are reallocated.

Roxburgh - Roxburgh TC will retain its meeting at the Roxburgh Racecourse on January 4.

Westport and Reefton Trotting Clubs

Westport TC (12 March twilight) and Reefton TC (14 March day) will retain their meetings.

Nelson and Marlborough Harness Racing Clubs

Marlborough HRC will retain its summer meetings on the 15 January twilight and 17 January day meetings while the June Winter dates for the Nelson HRC have not been reinstated but the summer dates of January 8 and 10 will continue.

To read HRNZ's full submission click here

To read RITA's dates release click here

For more information, please contact:

Ken Spicer, Chair, HRNZ
[email protected]                                                            

Phil Holden, Acting Chief Executive, HRNZ
[email protected]
027 467 1670


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