The Race gets big midweek treble

By Michael Guerin

The Race received three major boosts on Wednesday as New Zealand’s first ever slot race is just now weeks away.

The April 14 slot race worth $900,000 now not only has a sponsor but no crowd restrictions after the Government’s announcement around the changes to Covid restrictions starting this Friday.

And, far less surprising, was the official addition to the race of one of the long-time favourites with South Coast Arden as expected being signed.

Cambridge will be able to upsize the first ever running of The Race after the Government relaxation of crowd restrictions.

That will see the April 14 slot race meeting fully open to the public, becoming New Zealand’s biggest race meeting since the Karaka Million in January.

The meeting falls on the Thursday before Easter, the next day is a public holiday, and can now welcome as many general admission patrons as the club can attract.

The increased limit of 200 people per indoor function will have little effect on the Cambridge hospitality packages as their two main rooms, the Sky Lounge and the second floor lounge, have capacities of just over 200 anyway.

“We can really open up now for the party so many people have been waiting for,” says Cambridge boss David Branch.

"If we are still at Level Red we can have four different rooms operating at 200 people each and plenty of outdoor space on what we think is the best viewing track in the country.”

The Race has also found a high-profile sponsors in drinks brand Grins, the ready to drink brand recently launched by All Blacks Stephen Donald, Anton Lienert-Brown and Damian McKenzie.

It will be known for the next three years as The Race by Grins.

“We’ve signed up for three years and we’re going to be with Cambridge Raceway every step of the way,” Stephen Donald said.

“The concept of The Race is unique with people bidding for slots and then going about finding the best horses they can to fill their slots so that’s cool and talking to Dave and the crew from Cambridge Raceway about where they want to take it and the kind of event they want to make it was the exciting part to be honest.

“It’s going to be more than just a harness racing crowd and a harness racing event so we’re excited by that and it’s a great marriage with our young brand.”

Launched late last year, Grins is a New Zealand made low sugar, low carb, gluten free RTD brand that stands for all things good and grin-worthy, inspired by McKenzie’s trademark cheeky grin before he takes a kick.

The deal came about through Cambridge Raceway Chairman and former Waikato Rugby Chief Executive Graham Bowen.

“I knew the guys when they were all playing for Waikato,” he said. “We needed a naming rights sponsor for The Race and Grins is a fresh new brand that works well with The Race and hopefully it will help to attract a new crowd to Cambridge Raceway.”

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