The 2022 Racing Calendar - The Race

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 Race.

By Michael Guerin

The man in charge of New Zealand’s first ever slot race says he wants to make a huge annual drawcard for racing in the region.

Waikato-Bay Of Plenty Harness Racing Club chief executive David Branch was thrilled by last week’s announcement of the $500,000 slot race, based on the Everest concept, as part of last week’s enormous review of the domestic racing calendar.

The race is scheduled for April 14 at Cambridge and while Branch says some of the details, including the name, haven’t been confirmed that is part of the experience and fun for the club.

“We are tremendously excited about the whole thing, including the planning,” says Branch.

“We want to make it a huge Waikato event, obviously to be enjoyed by racing fans on both sides of the Tasman.

“And we want a big crowd to enjoy it.

“We have already had four or five people ring and enquire about buying slots but we had to tell them to wait a little longer while those details are worked out.”

With the race likely to be for $500,000 for its first running the likely breakdown would be 10 slots at $50,000 but HRNZ have indicated interest at an even higher price.

That won’t be the case this time but it wouldn’t stun to see the race take off and eventually climb to $1million.

“That is what we hope and we want to do the best we can to support it to grow,” says Branch.

“We want to get the whole community here involved and get 5000, maybe 6000 or even more people here.

“So we are going to work on strategies to engage the community but one of the first things we are going to do is work out a name. We want something unique and maybe even something that references the region.

“So we will work with some people on that but are open to suggestions.”

The idea of a slot race is overdue in harness racing with several states having gone close so HRNZ are to be congratulated for making it happen and at $50,000 the slots should not be hard to sell, especially to owners of good horses on either side of the Tasman who want to race in it, with the option to continue on to the Messenger at Alexandra Park two weeks later and then the Auckland Cup a month later.

Branch expects the name for the new slot race to be finalised in the next month.

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