A new concept for Southern Harness Racing was launched at the Southland Harness Awards at Ascot Park last night.
Finals Day, usually held in April each year, is the culmination of a number of series raced throughout the season, and has always been a big event on the Southern Harness Racing calendar. It's now time to more aptly reflect it as a great day of quality finals racing, and it's been given a new name - Southern Harness - Diamonds Day.
The initiative has been lead by Riverton Trotting Club president Bruce Stewart and has the support of all the clubs in the Southern region. As well as continuing to showcase the established features, additional exciting events will be added.
"It was felt that the Finals Day needed stronger branding and more of a promotional push so that it truly celebrates the end of the season. Diamonds Day also fits in nicely with the Harness Jewels as horses chase stakes to make the cut for the final fields," said Stewart.
New races will include “The Hot To Trot Graduation Final” for trotters, “Rising Stars Graduation Final” for pacers and “The Elite 1700” for mares.
"We're still working out the finer details but to have more finals on the day will really make it a must go to meeting."
The two year old feature, initiated by Southern Bred Southern Reared last season, will carry a new name and trophy. The race will be named after the champion Southland two year old Honkin Vision and will be called "The Honkin Vision Stakes."
"I know John Stiven and Dave Kennedy from SBSR are keen to get this race up to twenty to twenty five thousand, and the family of the late Henry Skinner who trained and drove Honkin Vision are keen to come on-board as well."
Oncourse there are plans to offer a number of new hospitality options. "The Class on Grass" marquee is an exciting concept and will host 150 ladies. In their package they'll each get to dine, enjoy their wine, receive betting vouchers for the first four races, and go into the draw to win a diamond!
"The Legends Lounge" will be another feature of the day where the club will host owners, drivers and trainers of some of the former stars of the Southern region. It's planned to have a display of cups, covers and the carts of some of these stars.
"Imagine a room full of trophies and covers won by Young Quinn, Robalan, Trevira and the like. I think this will be a real hit and the plan is to name a race "The Legends," Stewart said.
In order to help attract owners down from more northern parts, it's planned that the new Diamonds Day concept will include a dedicated area for all owners. This will have a seafood theme and will be called "Catch of the Day Cafe."
A travelling horse cover has been designed with the Diamonds Day logo, along with two promotional jackets which will be used throughout the season.
"We plan to send the rug away with horses like Franco Ledger who regularly visits Canterbury. This will help reinforce the brand when he walks through the barn at Addington. The two promotional jackets will be used on days like Invercargill Cup Day and of-course be worn by the girls leading in winners on Diamonds Day."
Southern Harness Clubs are very excited about this new concept and believe it will help to embed the event as a great day out for all those involved in the industry, and the public.
The first Diamonds Day spectacular will be held at Ascot Park next year on Sunday 12th April. It's D Day.
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