The end of the road for Orari racecourse

The days of harness racing on the grass at the Orari track in South Canterbury are numbered.

It's been decided that the venue will host two more meetings in November 2022 and in the autumn 2023, before it closes by July 2023.

The decision comes after a Sapere report looking at racing venues. Among its many conclusions was one that Orari does not have a long term future as a racing venue. It's the second Sapere report following a similiar review of Otago and Southland.

Harness Racing New Zealand has since agreed with the report's finding and has met with the Geraldine Trotting Club to discuss the situation.

"We are gutted by the decision," says Geraldine TC President Mark Weaver, "we are a profitable club with loyal sponsors who I believe is no cost to the industry."

The Geraldine Trotting Club was formed in 1946.


"Our club are yet to decide our future - racing somewhere else or disbanding our club will be decided in the coming months but our identity will be gone."

It's not the first time the club has faced an uncertain future. In 2020 its only meeting for the year was initially transferred to Methven only for it to get a reprieve. The club's last meeting was in April this year.

The Sapere report also found that changes are needed in South Canterbury and North Otago, and that the area cannot sustain two tracks.

Both Timaru and Oamaru are used by the harness and gallops codes. Clubs in the two areas will make submissions to a Racing New Zealand panel in coming months, to present their case for survival.

The future of the Rangiora Racecourse is also up for debate, though nothing has been finalised. Several options have been suggested and Harness Racing New Zealand will continue to liaise with the Rangiora Harness Racing Club and others.


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