Tuapeka To Join Southern Harness (Friday 28th July 2017)


Bruce Stewart


The Tuapeka Harness Racing Club has decided to join the Southern Harness group. The application by the Club was unanimously endorsed on Thursday night at a Southern Harness Presidents meeting in Gore. 



They'll continue to race at Forbury Park, however although the meeting will be managed on the day by Southern Harness staff, the Club will continue to use the Forbury Park mobile vehicle and starter assistants from the Otago area.


It was also agreed that some of the race series that Southern Harness runs throughout the season will include Tuapeka. 


Early records show that the Club began in the 1961 - 1962 season when it held non-totalistor events at both Roxburgh (November) and Forbury (March) before getting a tote licence in 1978. The Club's main race - the Selwyn Paul Tuapeka Cup has been run since 1993 when the first winner was Mighty Silks driven by Peter Shand. This season's cup will the 24th running.


The Tuapeka Club will race this coming season on Sunday 22nd October. 


Southern Harness now consists of clubs from Invercargill, Winton, Wyndham, Northern Southland, Wairio, Gore, Riverton, Central Otago, Roxburgh and Tuapeka. 









Twelve Horse Fields No Go At The Moment (Friday 28th July 2017)


Bruce Stewart


Southern Harness Clubs have decided not to restrict their raceday fields to just twelve starters in the 2017-2018 season.


The idea came about after the New Zealand Racing Board provided information suggesting that the optimum number of starters for Harness Races was twelve from the point of view of punters. Local Horseman are also in favour of the idea as they believe it provides better and safer racing.


Southern Harness were prepared to look at trialling this idea at the start of the coming season but it's been canned for the time being. This decision was reached at Thursday night's meeting of the Southern Harness Clubs when HRNZ CEO Edward Rennell who was in attendance, flagged that the New Zealand Racing Board were developing 'product supply incentives' for clubs.


"They haven't said what they will be, but they're intending to develop some KPIs where they will provide some additional funding. Nothing's been confirmed. On top of the twelve million they're providing in extra funding there may be a carrot of maybe an extra three million which will be performance based. There's no doubt in my mind that field size will be one of them (incentives)," he said.  


Rennell expects that NZRB CEO John Allen will announce more details of the incentives at this Thursday's AGM of HRNZ in Christchurch. 

"If we were looking at anything that was reducing our field sizes at this point I think it would be good to have a bit more clarity from the Racing Board first. If we reduced our field size and it cost us money that would be unadvisable," he stated.  


It was also announced that HRNZ is going to bulk fund some club's on-course turnover amounts. At present Southern Harness only have an off-course bulk funding arrangement with HRNZ.  


Rennell said there's a growing number of issues with on-course betting, as despite being on-course, many people are betting using their phones. As a result on-course turnover has been dropping for clubs as phone betting is regarded as off-course. Clubs have been complaining about losing commission. But Rennell stated that if on-course betting is bulkfunded, clubs will know in advance what their on-course income will be.  


However, Rennell said it's not the intention of HRNZ to do the on-course bulk funding long term.


"The Racing Board have talked for a while about being able to determine what the level of on-course betting with people on their phones is. At the moment they're developing the technology to do it. I understood it was going to be a fair way away but it appears to be sooner because they've been getting a lot of complaints from agencies. People are sitting in the pub betting and the guy at the pub is getting no income. They're now getting demands from their agencies. They need that technology in their pubs so if it applys to the pubs it'll apply to on-course." 


Areas that have been confirmed to receive bulk funding for on-course turnover in the new season are Southern Harness, Forbury Park, Addington, Alexandra Park and Cambridge. 


"With bulk funding we've taken all the risk but we don't see it as a issue down here because you're all here for the right reasons." 


The meeting was also informed that HRNZ intends to increase the minimum stakes for Group Three races from $25,000 to $30,000 and Group Two races from $40,000 to $50,000. 


Rennell said they are signalling changes to clubs early, but won't be enforcing the stake change until the 2018-2019 season.


Due to bulk funding already being in place Southern Harness have framed their stakes for the 2017-2018 season so no changes will happen this coming season.


"Our intention is to do it next season and this will cost about $30,000. We'll work out how that is done later," said Kevin McNaught Chairman of Southern Harness.  










No Early Two Year Old Racing In The South (Friday 28th July 2017)


Bruce Stewart


Two year old races in Southland won't be programmed until late January this season.



Southern Harness Programming Committee member John Earl told the meeting of Southern Club Presidents at Gore on Thursday evening that the Committee feel that juvenile racing in the past few seasons has been a bit disjointed.


"We've found in the past that some trainers were ready (with their two year olds) at the beginning of October, then there would be another lot at the end of October. Then some would be ready at Christmas. We couldn't get races off the ground. Now they know that they can focus on that (fixed start time of two year old races)."


Earl also stressed that trainers need to look at the programmes publicised on the HRNZ website to see when suitable races are programmed for their horses.


Southern Harness has also programmed an number of early season Futurity Series. This is aimed at encouraging trainers to start horses early in the season. There will be a $12,000.00 Final programmed at the end of each Series.


The first Futurity will be run over the first four meetings of the Southern season (Gore, Winton, Invercargill and again at Winton) with the final at the fifth meeting (Northern Southland).  


The Futurity races will be run for both pacers and trotters. 





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