HRNZ's "The Future Starts Now" to be unveiled at Addington this afternoon

By Michael Guerin

Harness racing’s fightback starts today.

The code promises one of its biggest days in the last five years with major announcements coming out of Harness Racing New Zealand and TAB Trackside launching its new Friday Night Lights coverage.

Both are eagerly anticipated following the huge financial injection which came with the TAB/Entain deal last year.

HRNZ has a new chief executive in Brad Steele, who officially started in his role this week, and some major announcements will be made in Christchurch today.

The "Future Starts Now" launch in the Terror To Love Lounge at Addington Raceway starts at 3.30pm and will be livestreamed on www.hrnz.co.nz as well as HRNZ's Facebook page.

There is expected to be good news around stakes for some of harness racing’s biggest events while rumours are rife of new slot races being launched.

Soon after the TAB will launch its new era in television coverage of harness racing with the Friday Night Lights show.

It will feature leading presenters Greg O’Connor and Craig Thompson on a studio panel with presenters Marc Cookson (south) and Nicole Sims (north) on track to maximise the information and analysis available to punters.

The TAB has moved more meetings to Friday nights to make the timeslot the focus of the harness racing week and the coverage will include features and personality pieces to try and drive engagement with the code.

The new show will be a welcome return to the level of coverage harness racing used to enjoy when there were regularly presenters at most meetings. That coverage disappeared during Covid restrictions and was slow to return with harness racing going through a period when it only had presenters on track for four meetings a year.

Entain have been true to their promise of wanting to drive not only turnover but engagement with the racing codes, believing the two go hand in hand, and Friday Night Lights will ensure harness racing is given a fair chance to lure punter’s eyeballs.

It also comes at what is often a golden time for harness racing turnover every season as the All Blacks play all their domestic tests on Saturdays so Friday night harness doesn’t clash with Super Rugby any more and over half tonight’s races will be completed before the NRL coverage starts.

While rarely spoken about, that post Super Rugby gap provides a boost every season because many of the sport/racing crossover punters have less Friday night viewing options and are more likely to tune into live Trackside action.

Tonight’s Addington and Cambridge meetings may hardly provide the best harness racing of the season but there will still be 18 winners to be found as well as features like the one screening tonight on South Island trotter Bet N Win and his upcoming Queensland campaign.

The standout horse at Cambridge is Triple G (R7, No.7) who was a Derby contender last season and has raced far better horses than those he meets tonight. He comes in beautifully under tonight’s 2700m mobile conditions and looked ready when winning at the workouts last weekend.

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