Harness racing is in for a shake up in the south in the up-coming season.
Arguably the biggest shock is that harness racing at Wyndham is gone and Invercargill loses 5 meetings
Wyndham loses 7 race days while Gore goes from 6 meetings to 1 in the upcoming season.
Forbury Park at Dunedin has been thrown a lifeline with 10 meetings being allocated.
From the proposed new season calendar released to the industry on 15 May, Invercargill will lose five meetings and Addington three to accommodate Forbury, and Addington will lose a further three to Timaru according a Harness Racing NZ media release.
Initially Timaru and Forbury clubs were going to be dropped from the schedule along with Manawatu club.
According to the HRNZ media release, the new calendar will race at 25 venues in the 2020-21 season, down from 31 in the current year, with the number of meetings dropping from 260 (originally programmed for this season) to 257. The venues missing from last season are Wyndham, Hawera, Taranaki, Stratford, Waimate and Geraldine.
HRNZ’s proposed programme was aimed at improving wagering income by racing more often at the higher performing venues, better aligning meetings with the regional horse population and helping reduce servicing costs with the fewer number of venues. This new programme remains a work in progress and HRNZ is committed to working alongside RITA as this new era unfolds.
“Every club will be under close scrutiny throughout the 2020-21 season and their performances will influence the following year’s programme. This new calendar will also give clubs time in which to develop their own regional development plans as requested by RITA,” he said.
Officials from Gore and Wyndham clubs are reportedly furious at the decision to cut race days and plan to take the matter further.
Forbury will hold 10 meetings, nine at Forbury and one at Wingatui.
Timaru Harness Racing Club
Timaru will hold three daylight meetings.
Southland Harness Racing Clubs
Wyndham – There will be no racing at the Wyndham Racecourse, with the meetings being reallocated. The club retains its summer meeting on 6 January at Cromwell.
Gore – Gore Harness Racing Club will race on December 27th on the grass at Gore. All other dates are reallocated.
Roxburgh – Roxburgh TC will retain its meeting at the Roxburgh Racecourse on January 4.