Te Aroha harness moved to Cambridge Raceway

The Waikato-Bay of Plenty Harness grass meeting which was scheduled for Saturday January 11 has been moved to Cambridge Raceway due to the unsuitable nature of the Te Aroha track.

The Te Aroha track was inspected last week by Harness Racing New Zealand track and venue inspector John Denton and was found to be unfit for Harness Racing, which requires a level grass surface.

“In comparison to the previous year’s inspection the track was found to be extremely uneven and the racing surface is too rough for harness racing,” said Waikato-Bay of Plenty Harness representative Dave Branch.

“We are really disappointed to lose this grass meeting but the welfare of the horses and drivers is our priority and the condition of the track raises serious concerns and could place strain on the horse’s ligaments and tendons. At our meeting at Te Aroha last year, 38 horses broke in the running, seven horses paced or trotted roughly, two horses broke in the running and a further two fell.

“The Te Aroha track staff have been very accommodating of harness racing and they continue to assist us as much as possible and we’re grateful for that. However there is increasing demand on the track for thoroughbred racing, which makes it difficult to present a track in the right condition for Harness Racing, which requires a different surface quality.”

Te Aroha Racing Club has two thoroughbred trial meetings and one race meeting in the eight days prior to January 11, which effectively equates to as many as 600 horses running at the venue prior to the scheduled harness meeting.

HRNZ, in conjunction with the club, has elected to make the venue change early to allow participants time to adjust their plans. This announcement comes after the news that the Te Awamutu track would not be made available for harness racing this season as it is closed for track upgrades. Tauranga and Thames are also no longer available as grass harness venues due to respective scheduling and broadcasting logistics issues.

Moving the Te Aroha meeting to Cambridge Raceway does mean that there will be back-to-back race meetings with the Gr.2McMillan Equine Feeds Flying Mile on the Friday prior.Waikato-Bay of Plenty Harness are set to announce some programming initiatives for these meetings in the coming weeks.

“With the increased demands on thoroughbred venues we identified this could be a growing problem earlier this season,” said Branch. “We consulted with Thames Harness Racing Club and put a proposal to RITA to move all three grass track meetings to Thames Racecourse for the current season. Unfortunately this was not possible due to broadcasting constraints.

The Waikato -Bay of Plenty Harness grass meeting at Rotorua on January 26 will continue with the venue having passed the track inspection.

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