NZ HARNESS NEWS,
OCTOBER 4, 2017
INTER DOMINION RETURNING TO NZ IN 2019 ?
Perhaps the most iconic race on the Australasian harness racing calendar, the Inter Dominion Pacing Grand Final, is likely returning to New Zealand.
Tenders closed over the weekend for the next three-year block of hosting rights and Harness Racing New Zealand, together Harness Racing Victoria and Harness Racing New South Wales, have lodged a joint bid.
Under the proposal, the Auckland Trotting Club would host the series at Alexandra Park in 2019 after it is held in Melbourne next year.
The series was last held in New Zealand in 2011, at Alexandra Park, under the auspices of the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club.
This was owing to the fact Addington suffered significant damage in the catastrophic earthquake in February of that year, just weeks earlier.
After the Perth series in early 2012, the old system of rotating it between eight states and islands across both countries was abandoned and a new tender process was implemented.
New South Wales hosted it for the first three years at Menangle and this year’s series, in November and December will be the last of three held at Gloucester Park in Perth.
Perth officials are not expected to re-tender for the series and, with Queensland and South Australia under immense final strain, it seems likely that the Auckland/Melbourne/Sydney bid will be the only, and therefore successful, one.
Harness Racing New Zealand Chief Executive Edward Rennell says it was important to get a race the stature of the Inter Dominion Final back in New Zealand.
“It’s a well-established brand and as well as that it would be sad to lose touch with a race that is so iconic and has been an important part of our industry for so long.”
Rennell says the likely template will see the series continue to be run after the New Zealand Cup and before Christmas, and for a stake that is expected to be $500,000, under half of this year’s stake.
“It has to be done in a way that doesn’t compromise our existing racing schedule or funding.
“We’ve done the sums based on a $500,000 Final and at that amount we are looking to contribute about $200,000 in terms of overall industry funding.
“It’s a significant amount, but not too significant when assessed in the big picture.”
Rennell says the requirement to commit to three years had prevented Harness Racing New Zealand or the two flagship clubs bidding on it in the past six years.
“We didn’t see it as a viable option when you had to tender on that basis.
“But now, as part of a joint bid, we can see a lot of merit in the idea.”
The Inter Dominion Trotting Series was put on the scrap heap after the 2012 series and was replaced in each country by the Anzac Cup at Alexandra Park and the Great Southern Star at Melton.
But Rennell says that there will definitely be a feature trotting race programmed to compliment the pacers’ final.
“We will definitely be running one.
“We haven’t decided what that will be at this stage, but I know Harness Racing Victoria have said they’ll be looking in to doing the same thing.”
Rennell says he doesn’t want to be seen to be getting ahead of himself, however.
“This is, of course, all subject to the bid being approved by the Inter Dominion Committee.
“But, I’d very surprised if there were any other tenders.
“We should have absolute confirmation by the end of October.
WILLIAMS BACK IN THE SULKY
Christchurch driver Tim Williams returns to race night driving at Addington on Friday, two months after surgery to repair an injured shoulder.
Williams drove five horses at the Ashburton trials on Tuesday and came through that test with flying colours.
He will partner with classy mare Dream About Me in the $50,000 Gr. 2 Canterbury Classic for his employers, Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen.
He will also drive top three-year-old The Devils Own in the Sires Stakes Heat and Bite The Bullet in the $20,000 Handicap.
ALL STARS DEPLOY SQUAD TO AUCKLAND
The massive All Stars training operation of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen are spreading their wings over the next month.
They will send a truckload of horses north to Auckland this weekend to race through October in an effort to separate their large pool of three-year-olds.
Chief amongst the group is classy five-year-old Cash N Flow, who is New Zealand Cup-nominated, while the others ear-marked are The Fixer and the three-year-olds Bare Knuckle, Bettor Trix, Think About Me and Major Shard.
“We’ve got massive numbers for the Sires Stakes Series,” said stable manager Michelle Neilson.
“We’ve got nearly 15 boys for the series and something like seven fillies so we needed to separate them out.”
- NZ HARNESS NEWS