Racing Calendar - The Ratings Series

Harness Racing New Zealand's new Racing Calendar announced last week includes many new initiatives, and talking points. So we will bring you some more detail of some of the Calendar's new features. Today is The Ratings Series.

The Ratings Series is geared towards the lower and intermediate grade horses. One of its champions is Bruce Barlass, who was one of the “architects” charged with re-shaping the Racing Calendar for 2022. Here he explains the merits of the Series and who stands to benefit.

HRNZ’s Ratings Series is to be aimed at 4YO and older pacers and trotters in the 40 to 60 rating band. There will be 37 races open to both sexes and 21 races exclusively for mares.

Those 58 races will be worth a combined stake pool close to $1 million. That total includes 6 open Finals races on the Country Championship Final Day at Addington for a stake of $30,000 each.

The theory behind the Series is to place the days all around the country.

Selection of the fields will be in tighter ratings bands, with $5,000 in additional funding per race that should see them race for $14,000 to $20,000 depending on the hosting club.

A unique selection criteria has been developed which rewards both a horse’s performance and the number of starts in the region over a set qualifying period.

Horses will need to have had a minimum three starts in the respective region to be eligible for selection, except for the Finals - the idea being to incentivise and reward those week in week out horses who make up the bulk of our industry.

In the performance triangle, as I call it, these horses are not in the small apex at the top of the triangle. That’s for the topliners.

The lower ratings horses, who are the vast majority, make up the engine room of harness racing and are the income generators of the industry.

The Country Cups and the introduction of their own $100,000 Country Championship at Addington in April is a huge boost to those mid-range ratings horses.

Personally, I think we can make a fairer and more efficient use of the lower rating horses and believe this concept can be grown to offer these horses and their owners and trainers either more aspirational or more appropriate opportunities.

Overall I’m delighted at the effort and positivity that has been put in to get this underway in 2022 – Bruce Barlass.

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