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Harness racing in New Zealand

Harness racing in New Zealand is more often called trotting in the "old school" rather than the more fashionable name of "harness racing".[1] The sport is long standing with events being held as early as 1864. In New Zealand trotting as a sport involves both pacing and trotting competitions for Standardbred racehorses.[2]

Contents

History

Trotting races were held as part of the programme of some of the galloping meetings in the Otago Southland area as early as 1864. The first totalisators were introduced about this time. They faced opposition from a curious alliance of bookmakers and anti-gambling factions but were approved by the Clubs and licensed by the Colonial Secretary. The first trotting race on a racecourse in Canterbury, in 1875, before the totalisator was introduced, the stake was only about a "tenner" (£10), but the match created a lot of interest. About 1880, Lower Heathcote Racing Club was founded, supporting gallops, but added trotting events to its programme, giving smaller stakes. Some years later the club discontinued gallops and became the Lower Heathcote Trotting Club, which gave stakes ranging from £15 to £35.[2]

From these early stages, the sport has developed with top races and top horses from then right up to the present day.

Major races

In New Zealand the major races include the Auckland Trotting Cup and the New Zealand Trotting Cup as well as the Noel J Taylor Memorial Mile and the New Zealand Messenger Championship for four year olds. There are also the New Zealand Derby and the Great Northern Derby for three year olds, and the Dominion Handicap and Rowe Cup for trotters. The Harness Jewels raceday (the end-of year championships for two, three and four year olds) takes place in late May/early June

A marquee event is the annual series which takes place between New Zealand and Australia called the Inter Dominion. The series, which includes a pacing series and a trotting series, is held yearly and rotated around the Australian State Controlling Bodies and once every four years the Inter Dominion Championships are held in New Zealand.

Racing rules

New Zealand racing differs from North American racing in that metric distances are used, generally above the equivalent of one mile and horses are classed by how many wins they have. Another large difference is that in New Zealand racing the leader does not have to hand up the lead to any horse that challenges, often leaving a horse parked outside the leader in the "death seat", "the death", or "facing the breeze", as this horse covers more ground than the leader. New Zealand racing generally has more horses in each race, a field of 12 or 13 is not uncommon. This generally means that with the smaller tracks a "three wide train" starts as the field gets the bell at signal their final lap. There is a system of an 'open lane' or 'passing lane' ('sprint lane' in Australia). These lanes do not operate on all tracks and have been a point of argument between many industry participants. Many horses are able to easily "cross the Tasman" to Australia, as the rules are similar.

United States and Canada

The association with trotting in New Zealand and the United States has always been strong, with much of the breeding stock coming from America. Particularly in the 1950s and 1960s, New Zealand horses competed in both Canada and the United States. The first New Zealand horse to be raced in America by a New Zealander was the trotter Vodka, the winner of the 1953 Dominion Handicap. He was taken there in 1956 by his owner, J. S. Shaw, won 11 races and was later leased to American interests.

In 1960 Caduceus was the first New Zealand pacer to compete in the Yonkers International Series with his trainer-driver, J. D. Litten. Despite his nine years, Caduceus showed he was the equal of the top American horses, winning the last race of the series, only to be disqualified. He also was leased to American interests and at 10 years of age was still winning races.

False Step was driven in the Yonkers International series during the 1960–61 season by his trainer C C Devine. False Step's performances showed he was one of the greatest pacers in the world. He beat the acknowledged American champion, Adios Butler, in a 1½ mile race. He was sold in America for 115,000 dollars, the fifth highest price paid for a pacer in the United States.

Arania also entered the series with False Step. She did not do well, but after being leased won several races and proved she was able to race with the best in America, and in fact created a record of 1 min 57 sec for 1 mile in the Lexington Red Mile.[3]

In 1964, Cardigan Bay was to travel to America with reinsman Stanley Dancer, who paid 100,000 dollars for the horse. Cardigan Bay was already an established racehorse in New Zealand, having won the 1963 New Zealand Trotting Cup and other top races in Australia and New Zealand. He went on to win over a million dollars in the United States, the first harness horses ever to do so.

List of major races

Major horse races in New Zealand
Harness Racing Circuit [4]
Name

Distance

Current Value

Winners

Auckland Trotting Cup 2700 m $600,000 Winners
Dominion Handicap 3200 m $300,000 Winners
Great Northern Derby 2700 m $600,000 Winners
New Zealand Trotting Derby 2700 m $300,000 Winners
New Zealand Free For All 2000 m $300,000 Winners
New Zealand Messenger 2700 m $200,000 Winners
New Zealand Sires Stakes 1950 m $200,000 Winners
New Zealand Trotting Cup 3200 m $1,200,000 Winners
Noel J Taylor Mile 1700 m $100,000 Winners
Rowe Cup 3200 m $300,000 Winners

Horse races

List of harness races in New Zealand

Race

Date

Club

Grade

Type

Stake

Avon City Ford Cup Sep NZ Metro Listed Open Pace $20,000
Ordeal Cup Sep NZ Metro Listed Open Trot $20,000
Spring Cup Sep Auckland Listed Open Pace $25,000
Superstars Champs Oct NZ Metro Group 2 4YO Pace $50,000
Searells Classic Oct NZ Metro Group 3 Open Pace $30,000
D G Jones Trotting Cup Oct Banks Pen Group 3 Open Trot $35,000
Kumeu Founders Cup Oct Kumeu Group 3 Open Pace $30,000
Canterbury Park Trotting Cup Oct NZ Metro Group 3 Open Trot $30,000
Methven Cup Oct Methven Listed Open Pace $25,000
Ashburton Flying Stakes Oct Ashburton Group 2 Open Pace $75,000
Ashburton Trotters Flying Mile Oct Ashburton Group 3 Open Trot $40,000
Kaikoura Cup Nov Kaikoura Group 2 Open Pace $60,000
Handicap Trot Nov Kaikoura Listed Open Trot $30,000
New Zealand Sires Stakes Nov NZ Metro Group 1 3YO Pace $200,000
New Zealand Trotting Cup Nov NZ Metro Group 1 Open Pace $1,200,000
NZ Free-For-All Nov NZ Metro Group 3 Open Pace $50,000
Discretionary Trot Nov NZ Metro Listed Open Trot $25,000
New Zealand Free For All Nov NZ Metro Group 1 Open Pace $300,000
New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All Nov NZ Metro Group 1 Open Trot $100,000
Dominion Handicap Nov NZ Metro Group 1 Open Trot $300,000
Pak'N Save Franklin Cup Nov Franklin Group 2 Open Pace $80,000
Ladyship Stakes Dec Auckland Group 2 3YO Fillies Pace $70,000
Lyell Creek Stakes Dec Auckland Group 2 Open Trot $50,000
Northern 4YO Breeders Stakes Dec Auckland Group 3 4YO Mares Pace $40,000
Northern Stakes Dec Auckland Listed 3YO Pace $25,000
Queen Of Hearts Dec Auckland Group 1 Mares Pace $100,000
Elsu Classic Dec Auckland Group 2 3YO Pace $70,000
Trotters Flying Mile Dec Cambridge Group 2 Open Trot $55,000
Sires Stakes Fillies Final Dec Auckland Group 1 3YO Fillies Pace $150,000
National Trot Dec Auckland Group 1 Open Trot $100,000
Manukau Summer Cup Dec Auckland Group 3 Open Pace $45,000
3YO Open Dec Auckland Listed 3YO Pace $200,000
Flying Mile Jan Cambridge Group 2 Open Pace $75,000
Trotting Cup FFA Jan Cen Otago Listed Open Pace $25,000
Flying Stakes Jan Cambridge Listed Open Trot $30,000
Cambridge 4YO Classic Jan Cambridge Group 3 4YO Pace $40,000
Waikato Guineas Jan Cambridge Listed 3YO Pace $27,500
Southland Cup Jan North South Group 3 Open Pace $55,000
4YO Futurity Stakes Jan Cambridge Group 2 4YO Pace $60,000
Te Awamutu Juvenile Stake Jan Cambridge Listed 2YO Pace $25,000
4YO Classic Jan Marlborough Group 2 4YO Pace $50,000
Caduceus Club Mares Championship Jan NZ Metro Group 2 Mares Pace $50,000
Fillies Pace Jan NZ Metro Listed 3YO Fillies Pace $125,000
FFA Mobile Jan NZ Metro Listed Open Pace $75,000
4YO Championship Feb Forbury Group 3 4YO Pace $30,000
NZ Sapling Stakes Feb Ashburton Group 3 2YO Pace $30,000
Hambletonian Classic Feb Ashburton Group 3 3YO Trot $30,000
NZ Breeders Stakes Feb NZ Metro Group 1 F & M Pace $100,000
City Of Auckland FFA Feb Auckland Group 2 Open Pace $60,000
Northern Oaks Feb Auckland Group 1 3YO Fillies Pace $200,000
NZ Kindergarten Stakes Feb Wyndham Group 3 2YO Pace $30,000
Great Northern Derby Mar Auckland Group 1 3YO Pace $600,000
Auckland Trotting Cup Mar Auckland Group 1 Open Pace $600,000
Cardigan Bay Stakes Mar Auckland Group 2 2YO Pace $50,000
City of Sails FFA Mar Auckland Group 3 Open Trot $40,000
Delightful Lady Classic Mar Auckland Listed 2YO Fillies Pace $25,000
Stakes Mar Cheviot Group 3 2YO Fillies Pace $30,000
3YO Trot Mar Rangiora Listed 3YO Trot $60,000
Invercargill Cup Mar Invercargill Group 3 Open Pace $55,000
Canterbury Country Cups Final Mar NZ Metro Feature Open Pace $30,000
NZ Trotting Derby Mar NZ Metro Group 1 3YO Trot $100,000
Flying Stakes Mar NZ Metro Group 2 3YO Pace $50,000
4YO Trotters Champ Mar NZ Metro Group 3 4YO Trot $30,000
New Zealand Trotting Derby Apr NZ Metro Group 1 3YO Pace $300,000
NZ Trotting Champs Apr NZ Metro Group 1 Open Trot $100,000
Fillies Classic Apr Auckland Group 1 2YO Fillies Pace $110,000
NZ Trotting Oaks Apr NZ Metro Group 3 3YO Fillies Trot $30,000
Free-For-All Apr NZ Metro Group 3 Open Pace $30,000
Fillies Classic Apr North South Listed 2YO Pace $25,000
Easter Cup Apr NZ Metro Group 1 Open Pace $100,000
Welcome Stakes Apr NZ Metro Group 1 2YO Pace $100,000
North Island Country Cups Final Apr Auckland Feature Open Pace $30,000
Noel J Taylor Mile Apr Auckland Group 1 4YO Pace $100,000
Sires Stakes Trotters Championship Apr Auckland Group 2 3YO Trot $80,000
Morrinsville Juvenile Stakes Apr Moriinsville Listed 2YO Pace $30,000
2YO Fillies Apr Auckland Listed 2YO Fillies Pace $150,000
New Zealand Messenger May Auckland Group 1 4YO Pace $200,000
NZ Sires Stakes Fillies Champs May Auckland Group 1 2YO Fillies Pace $150,000
Rowe Cup May Auckland Group 1 Open Trot $300,000
Northern Trotting Derby May Auckland Group 1 3YO Trot $100,000
NZ Trotting Stakes May NZ Metro Group 3 2YO Trot $30,000
Southern Country Cups Final May Invercargill Feature Open Pace $35,000
Southland Oaks May Invercargill Group 2 3YO Fillies Pace $50,000
Southern Supremacy Stakes May Invercargill Group 2 3YO C & G Pace $50,000
Rangiora Classic May Rangiora Group 3 Open Pace $60,000
Fillies Final May NZ Metro Group 1 3YO Fillies Pace $150,000
NZ Sires Stakes Trotting Championship May NZ Metro Group 2 2YO Trot $60,000
Yearling Sales 2YO Open May NZ Metro Listed 2YO Pace $200,000
Cambridge 3YO Trotting Stakes May Cambridge Listed 3YO Trot $25,000
Memorial NZ Oaks May NZ Metro Group 1 3YO Fillies Pace $150,000
NZ Sires Stakes Final May NZ Metro Group 1 2YO Pace $200,000
Kumeu Stakes May Auckland Group 3 4YO Pace $30,000
Winter Cup May NZ Metro Listed Open Pace $25,000
NI Breeders Stakes May Franklin Group 3 F & M Pace $30,000
Yearling Sales 2YO Trot May NZ Metro Listed 2YO Trot $60,000
Harness Jewels 2YO Diamond May Ashburton Group 1 2YO Fillies Pace $200,000
Harness Jewels 3YO Diamond May Ashburton Group 1 3YO Fillies Pace $200,000
Harness Jewels 4YO Diamond May Ashburton Group 1 4YO Mares Pace $200,000
Harness Jewels 2YO Emerald May Ashburton Group 1 2YO C & G Pace $200,000
Harness Jewels 3YO Emerald May Ashburton Group 1 3YO C & G Pace $200,000
Harness Jewels 4YO Emerald May Ashburton Group 1 4YO E & G Pace $200,000
Harness Jewels 3YO Ruby May Ashburton Group 1 3YO Trot $100,000
Harness Jewels 4YO Ruby May Ashburton Group 1 4YO Trot $100,000
Harness Jewels 2YO Ruby May Ashburton Group 2 2YO Trot $100,000
Trotting Breeders Stakes Jun Auckland Group 3 F & M Trot $35,000
Winter Cup Jun Auckland Listed Open Pace $25,000
NZ Yearling Sales NHT Pace Jun Auckland Listed 2YO Pace $100,000
Greenlane Cup Jun Auckland Listed Open Trot $25,000
Thames Cup Jun Thames Listed Open Pace $20,000

See also

References



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