K is for Kaikoura
With its back straight running adjacent to the Pacific Ocean, the South Bay Racecourse at Kaikoura has been hailed as one of the most scenic racing venues anywhere.
“It’s like nowhere else in the world,” says Vice President Grant Anderson.
And they do things differently to the big City meetings.
“We don’t have a full-time care-taker we all just do it. There’s a huge amount of hard work put in by our committee.”
Formed in 1914, the Club currently holds just one two-day meeting a year on Marlborough anniversary weekend (late October-early November).
There’s a lower grade six-race twilight meeting on the Sunday, followed by the more traditional Kaikoura Cup meeting. It is very much destination racing, with racing fans coming from all the South Island and beyond for what is a unique experience.
Anderson said “We pack it out with 10,000 plus … the campervans arrive Tuesday and that’s for the racing the following Sunday and Monday”
It’s a key lead-up to the New Zealand Cup meeting at Addington the following week, and while the track is fast it can be tricky especially for horses back in the field because of its lack of camber.
The race record for the Kaikoura Cup is held by Lazarus. In 2017 the $1.10 favourite, driven by Mark Purdon, was parked for most of the 2400 metres only to clear out and win in 2:54.3, a second quicker than the old mark. Lazarus went on to win his second New Zealand Cup.
A number of horses have done that double over the years with another Purdon horse Il Vicolo doing it twice in 1995 and 96. Others include Arden Rooney in 2015, and Trusty Scot as far back as 1978.
Among the two time winners of the Kaikoura Cup are Master Musician (1992-93) and Smiling Shard (2010-11) while last year’s New Zealand Cup winner Cruz Bromac finished second to Classie Brigade only to go one better on that second Tuesday of November.
With its seaside vistas and buzzing crowds Kaikoura is one of the more television-friendly venues for harness racing, and as Grant Anderson proudly says: “the people just keep coming back.”