Day At The Track

Alexandra Park happenings

08:49 AM 03 Nov 2016 NZDT
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Alexandra Park

The Haras des Trotteurs North Island Oaks set for May 5 is likely to be a 2200m mobile, according to Alexandra Park's Racing Manager Kevin Smith.

He said he hoped the Oaks would grow and eventually take on Group status.

"For a while now there has been a call for additional races for the trotting fillies and mares.

“The New Zealand Breeders Association thought a race something akin to the North Island Oaks we run for the 3yo pacing fillies would prove popular for the 3yo trotting fillies.

“Pat Driscoll the Principal of Haras des Trotteurs and Dave Sanders (their NZ representative) were both very keen to come on board and have agreed to sponsor the race.

“Haras des Trotteurs have become a significant sponsor in NZ sponsoring a number of feature races for trotters,” Smith said.

Meanwhile, Smith said it was the start of a very busy two months at Alexandra Park last Friday. Speaking on Trackside Radio Smith said there were races every Friday until the highlight Auckland Cup meeting at Alexandra Park on New Year’s Eve.

“We are looking forward to a busy couple of months, with the Auckland Cup Carnival in December being the obvious highlight.

“Nominations for the Auckland Cup will close on November 25. That works in well because those horses not going to the Interdominions in Perth (November 25 – December 9) should gravitate here.

“There should be good crowds again with a family fun day and the races starting at about 2.30pm or 3pm,” Smith said.

Asked to comment on the current ratings system Smith replied:

“We have had a mixed response from a lot of people who are still trying to get their head around it all. The numbers of horses starting, the turnovers, and the KPI (key performance indicators) are all heading in the right direction.

“I think people are just experiencing teething problems at present but you only have to see the racing numbers to know that something is working. We had 116 nominations last week and Cambridge had 80 the night before,” Smith said.

“It will be trialled until the end of November when a sub-committee will make a final decision just prior to the New Zealand Cup in early November,” he added.

He said another positive was that horses of similar ability were now competing against each other.

Meanwhile Zac Butcher has a three-win lead over Alexandra Park's long-time driving champion Tony Herlihy (MNZM).

Following last Friday's meeting Butcher now has 12 wins compared to Herlihy's nine. Third on the Alexandra Park premiership is David Butcher with eight wins.

The training premiership sees Barry Purdon at the top of the table with 10 wins, one ahead of Herlihy, and two clear of John/Josh Dickie and Steven Reid/Simon McMullan.

The Alexandra Park Junior Driving Premiership sees Sean Grayling out in front with four wins - two more than Robert Argue and Dylan Ferguson. The only other juniors to have saluted the judge at "the Park' this season have been Ben Butcher and Jack MacKinnon, who have won a race apiece.

Christmas Racing at “the Park’ starts on November 11.

 

Duane Ranger

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