Kaikoura gearing up for its biggest days of the year

One of harness racing's most iconic meetings is about to get bigger, busier and faster.

The two-day Kaikoura meeting will be held at the picturesque South Bay racecourse on October 29 and 30.

Normally the Sunday meeting is a lower key six-race affair that leads into Monday's big Cup meeting, which is also Marlborough Anniversary day.

But this year things are going to be different, with an eight race Fast 10 meeting confirmed for the opening day.

The concept, devised and owned by Glenn Hames and Tony Russell (Quick Horse Racing Limited) is all about fast-paced action, with lots of music and colour, and less than 20 minutes between races.

All races will be held over 1900 metres with 10 starters in each, six off the front and four off the back. All horses are allocated coloured and numbered saddlecloths determined by their draw, with drivers wearing the same-coloured caps.

They aim to bring to the races what T20 has done for cricket, and Fast 5 for netball.

"We will start at 3.30 and be finished before 6pm," says Hames, who is also the administration manager for the Kaikoura Trotting Club.

It's the fourth Fast 10 meeting in this country, following on from two at Addington and one in Invercargill.

"We wanted to try something different because we are expecting a huge crowd for the two days, we have had a lot of interest."

Hames hopes they'll get upwards on 2000 people on the Sunday, and double that for the Cup meeting.

Such has been the demand for space on-course that more than 180 campsites, 50 gazebo sites and 11 mini marquees have all been sold out.

"We put the campsites out for sale in June and they were snapped up in four weeks."

For $100 campers can stay at what's been called the world's most scenic raceway for four nights, from Friday October 27.

"It's the most ever, we have people coming from Nelson to Dunedin," says Hames, "and we have about 10 groups on the waitlist at the moment as well."

"And we have organised them so everyone's view of the track won't be compromised."

Sunday's meeting will coincide with the final of the Rugby World Cup at the Stade de France in Paris.

"We will definitely have coverage in the hall of the final and on a big screen potentially - we are still working that through," says Hames.

On the Saturday night before there'll be entertainment of a different sort - "we'll have a bingo night in the hall!"

Th two day meeting will feature a number of prizes and giveaways for trainers and others who support the meeting including accommodation and meal packages, as well as General Admission tickets to the New Zealand Cup at Addington on November 14. The New Zealand Cup will also be on display.

GCH Aviation (Garden City Helicopters) is also offering scenic flights around Kaikoura at reduced rates for those camping on course.

"We are very keen to get the message out to trainers and racegoers - we want them to know what we are up to and of course we are very keen for them to support the meeting, on either or both days."

Monday's big day will be highlighted by the two feature races, the $60,000 Alabar Kaikoura Cup , and the $40,000 IRT South Bay Trotters Cup, as well as the $50,000 NZB Aged Stakes Classic.

And Hames is hopeful the timing will work in the club's favour in terms of attracting the best horse flesh.

"Usually there's a week between the Kaikoura and New Zealand Cup meetings but this year it's two so that should fit perfectly for trainers and their Cup preparation," says Hames.

In recent years the Cup has been taken out by the likes of three-time winner Classie Brigade as well as subsequent New Zealand Cup winners Lazarus and Arden Rooney while the South Bay Trotters Cup has also featured some of the very best including Sundees Son (202), Muscle Mountain (2021) and the only three-time winner, I Can Doosit (2010-2012).

Hames is expecting the Kaikoura track to be in top condition for its annual meeting.

"It was re-surfaced last year and we had something like six track records - it will be in great nick again."

Now there's just one thing the club can't control.

"We just need the weather gods to play ball."

What : Kaikoura Trotting Club meeting
When : Sunday, October 29 and Monday, October 30


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