What's making news!!

Regular updates, news and discussion topics.

National Council



Sires Stakes Board Update May 2018

Due to a number of issues facing the Board which needed attention before the next regular meeting in November, we met again in May on the day of the Series Finals at Addington.

Included in discussions was a review of all the Boards’ race series where different concepts were considered and, as a consequence, staff members were asked to work with HRNZ on small adjustments to some of the conditions of the new races.

From next season, the popular Harness 5000 for horses sired by stallions standing at below a fee of $5000, will become the Harness 7000, so that the progeny of a number of new sires that are standing at an advertised fee of up to $7000 can be eligible.

Also from next season, the Garrard’s 3YO Sophomore event will carry conditions that exclude horses that have finished 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in Group One Races, or races that carry a stake of $100,000 or more.

The Board is in continued discussions with Clubs regarding their funding models and contributions to Sires Stakes races.

In August, once all foal nominations for this year have been processed, the Sires Stakes Board will be conducting a survey of its’ participants to gather opinions and feedback on the current racing programmes, as it looks towards the future landscape of Sires Stakes racing.

Pete Cook

But Wait…There’s More

Missed out on selection for the Jewels or had no luck in the Sires Stakes, Nevele R Fillies Series, or the Yearling Sales Series? Well, good news, all is not lost for the season.

The Uncut Gems will be held at Alexandra Park on Friday 15 June and present further earning opportunities to those horses nominated for Sires Stakes, Nevele R Fillies Series or NZ Yearling Sales Series. A full list of series and conditions can be found on the NZ Sires Stakes Board website.

The Sires Stakes Board wishes to remind Owners & Trainers that nominations for the Uncut Gems at Alexandra Park close on Monday, June 11th, 2018 @ 11:00 a.m.

1. Four Year Old & Older Entires & Geldings Classic 2200 mobile
2. Four Year Old & Older Trotters Classic 2700 special handicap
3. Four Year Old & Older Mares Classic 2200 mobile

This year $15,000 worth of bonuses will be available with the first eligible Yearling Sales horse to finish in each race receiving $5,000. This does not form part of the Stake & will be paid by the Sires Stakes Board to the owner(s).

Horses that have won a Group One race, or a race worth $55,000 or more, are ineligible.

Horses that ran first, second or third in the 2018 Harness Jewels are also ineligible

The full conditions are available at www.nzsiresstakes.co.nz or ring Martin (03 964 1186) or Doreen (03) 544 8820 to confirm your horses eligibility.

Pete Cook


May 2018 has been a sad month for Harness Racing in this Country with the passing of a number of industry participants, personalities and icons. While there is an obvious inevitability about such things, it still brings it home how many people who we have watched and been involved with over the years, are now no longer with us.

Last week we lost one of, and possibly the last, of the great ‘old school’ trainers in Jack Carmichael who, while I didn’t know him well, inadvertently had a part to play in my introduction to harness racing. Having come from England in the mid-sixties, I knew nothing about the game until a school mate took me along to what (I think) was an equalisator meeting at Addington one Saturday. I have no idea what the occasion was, but I do remember seeing a horse called Chequer Board, driven by Jack, win the feature race, and he became my first favourite. I’ve even got a black and white photo of him returning to the birdcage after winning the Easter Cup not long after that. Wow, those were the days when young fellows would bother taking photos of the racehorses they idolised! Hooked for life!

What few would know was that Jack Carmichael was instrumental, along with good mate Derek Jones, in establishing the Trainers & Drivers Association, and was in fact the Patron of the organisation, when those sort of titles were in vogue.

Like many of the other icons of harness racing (or trotting as they knew it), he has left us with amazing memories, and will live on in the history of our wonderful sport.

Pete Cook

Greater Canterbury Branch Report May 2018

The Greater Canterbury Branch Committee met recently, with Addington CEO Peter Jensen in attendance, to discuss matter pertaining to Addington and other industry matters

Peter advised that the new 1980m start point was to be trialled during the July race meetings at the raceway and if supported by drivers, would become standard. The preferential draw grid was discussed and was considered to be out-dated, with the best horses simply leading from wide draws and winning. An update of the barrier draw statistics would be carried out, a suggestion being that the highest rated horse should be drawn one on the second row.

Various issues surrounding starts and starters were discussed, and Ken Barron confirmed that the RIU planned to hold a meeting of all starters shortly, with horsemen present. Apparently the Canterbury region had the worst record for starting races late, although this could be a reflection of large fields. Matters that would be raised at the starters meeting included a need for consistency across the Country, a requirement for horses to trial from a stand prior to racing, a standard policy of whether horses were required to stand or walk in, so trainers could teach them to do one or the other, and a call for better communication between starters and drivers. Those present acknowledged that some drivers can cause issues for starters, and agreed they should be dealt with by the RIU.

The committee suggested to Addington that all maiden races be run for a $10K (plus the $1,500 bonus), and that they direct the extra money towards other races.

Peter Jensen advised that, due to a lack of numbers, it was the intention of Addington to run only one trial meeting next season, that being the Cup Trials in November. Trainers will continue to be able to use the track and facilities for private workouts, provided they arrange this ahead of time with John Denton. Ken Barron repeated a call for the abolition of trials, with qualifiers to be held prior to workouts.

Ken was supported when he expressed disappointment at the lack of handicaps allocated to any runners in this year’s Easter Cup, with all horses starting off the front. This was in contrast to other races staged in the region. Those present agreed this was detrimental to lower graded horses, would deter some from entering, and encourage overseas sales.

The meeting strongly supported the establishment of a Canterbury Racing Bureau, adamant that it should be in place by 1 August. Peter Jensen confirmed that Addington supported the concept and that he would be working with HRNZ and the other clubs in Canterbury to facilitate this arrangement.

The meeting felt that the winning percentage for any race should be 55%. This could be achieved by basing the stake on field size of 12 instead of 14. Peter Jensen agreed to review but advised that there would be no change for the 18-19 season as budgets are in place.

Discussion took place on various matters surrounding owners at Addington, including difficulty for owners in gaining stable passes, what should be given to winning owners, the success of the stables BBQ, the price of drinks in Spectators, and the use of the Spectators card, and whether this card should be sent to all owners. Peter agreed to investigate the various options and report back.

Ken raised the subject of Amateur driver’s races being ineligible for the Met Multiplier bonus. Various options were discussed, including a reduction of stakes for these races to $8k and eligibility for the bonus, providing 10 of the 15 races were in professional events. Peter Jensen advised the Met Multiplier bonus pay-outs were well above budget last season and, although numbers could be less this season, they would still be above budget. A reduction in the size of the bonus was suggested by Ken Barron if this would allow the amateurs to be included.

Peter advised that Addington stake levels would remain unchanged for next season. A suggestion was made by the committee that if, as in the current season, some lead up races for the NZ Cup failed to attract sufficient numbers to make them viable (7 or less), the stake could be lowered.

Another suggestion was to pay higher winning stake levels to higher rated horses when they won races, to encourage connections of these horses to retain and race them.

Mark Jones suggested that, to boost numbers at Addington, both nominations and acceptances for Friday meetings should close on Mondays, and nominations for Sunday meetings close on Tuesday, so that connections were unable to compare options prior to accepting. A proposal that a rating limit of, say R55, should be placed on races staged by country clubs was supported by the meeting. All agreed that the establishment of a Canterbury Bureau would go a long way to alleviating many of the current problems. A call was made for more maiden and one win only trotter’s races to be programmed for Addington.

Mark also called for the abolition of early nomination fees for major races, considering that it could conceivably eliminate horses who don’t nominate, but improve sufficiently in the meantime. An option for the time frame of these payments to be reduced was suggested. Peter Jensen advised that the board had recently committed to continuing with nomination fees for the NZ Cup, Dominion, NZ Derby and NZ Oaks next season. After considering feedback, the board has agreed to refunding first and second withdrawal payments (not nomination fees) for any horses on the ballot for these races, as long as they start on the same race day/night in a race for which they are eligible and selected for.

The Branch would like to thank Peter Jensen for attending another frank and mutually beneficial meeting, and we are confident an excellent relationship will be on-going.

Pete Cook








Terms & Conditions of Training


Click here to read download a PDF copy