Manawatu upping the stakes in 2023
Improved stakes will be a feature of the Manawatu Harness Racing Club's new 2023-24 season that kicks off with a six-race meeting on Labour Day (Monday).
In all there will be 12 meetings at the club's Palmerston North track between now and March 28, 2024.
"We sought a lot of feedback, especially from northern trainers, to see what we could do to improve our fields and the recurring theme was to increase stakes - so that's exactly what we have done," says Manawatu HRC president Dan Lynch.
"With the Entain deal (TAB) going through there is more money in the system and we have decided to pass that on."
"So every Tuesday race will have a minimum stake of $11,500 and on a Thursday night that will be $12,000."
That represents a significant increase on previous seasons where the stakes on some races were around $9000.
"We want to maximise the horse numbers from our district and also attract them from outside," says Lynch, "and what we will be offering are good stakes in fields that usually have 10 or 12 horses, rather than the 16 or so in other places."
Among the initiatives they have agreed to this summer is a new C A Penny - Pick It Up and Win Series, sponsored by Marlborough trainer Allan Shutkowski.
"Thanks to Allan's generosity we plan to have a $13,000 Fillies and Mares race at each of our Thursday meetings," says Lynch.
"If it works out great, if not we will merge them (the fillies and mares) into other races."
Other features include the Manawatu Cup, for a stake of $18,000, on December 14, as well as two $20,000 Country Cups on March 14 and 26 and a $25,000 Country Cup at the final meeting of the season on March 28.
The final meeting will also feature a $17,000 race for the Fillies and Mares.
"With the stakes increases and a lot of two-day meetings we think we will attract good horses from all over the country and it will help out local trainers as well," says Lynch.