The new Racing Calendar : The Harness Million
Harness Racing New Zealand's new Racing Calendar announced this week includes many new events, and talking points. So over the next week or so we will bring you some more detail of some of the Calendar's new features. We will start with February's Harness Million at Alexandra Park.
The Harness Million meeting is harness racing's very own pre-NZB Standardbred National Yearling Sale meeting, with a mega night of six races confirmed for Auckland next February.
Starting at the later than usual time of 7.30pm, the Harness Million Series meeting at Alexandra Park will be held on Saturday 12 February 2022, a day before the commencement of NZB Standardbred’s National Yearling Sale at Karaka on Sunday.
The six races will include three three-year-old Harness Million races for Colts and Geldings, Fillies and Trotters. To have all three at the same venue on the same night is a first. The other three races on the night will be The Sprint, a $50,000 race for the pacers, the Lyell Creek Stakes (Group Two) for the open class trotters, and a Young Guns race for the two-year-olds.
It’s modelled on the highly successful Karaka Million meeting at Ellerslie every January.
“The Karaka Million Series has showcased the impact a must-attend event can do for the industry, “ said James Jennings, NZB’s Director and Operations Manager said in September when the meeting was mooted for the first time, "record turnovers, attendance and engagement has seen that race day become arguably the biggest on the calendar, something we envisage happening with the Harness Million Series.”
In the future the meeting will be held on a Friday, with next year's Saturday scheduling a one-off due to a clash with Cambridge's meeting on Friday 11 February.
“It would usually be a big ask to move away from Alexandra Park’s traditional Friday night slot .....but the ATC Racing Committee are fizzing at the opportunity, it was a no brainer,” said Auckland Trotting Club’s Jamie MacKinnon.
"We really appreciate that the TAB has given us a licence for the Saturday night," says HRNZ Chief Executive Gary Woodham, "it will be massive opportunity to promote our sport both here and in Australia, and we can't wait."
"The ATC will be rolling out the red carpet...the Champagne corks will definitely be popping,” says MacKinnon.
The two-year-old equivalent of the Harness Million will be held as part of a massive night at Addington in October 14, 2022.