Hi everyone, essentially this will be the last edition of Media Bites from me. From 1 August I will be shifting seats into the Handicapping Department. Given I will still be at HRNZ if anyone needs information on any harness racing topic and you think I can help please feel free to get in contact with me. Here are this weeks Media Bites
New Dimension thrown into Trainers’ premiership race – Dalgety adds oomph to final assault
There are just two wins between the two best trainers in New Zealand right now but one suspects that will not be the case following the season’s final race meeting this Sunday at Rangiora. Mark Purdon has a two-shot lead over Cran Dalgety in the race for trainers’ honours. Going into the final week Dalgety looked well placed however with a strong numerical advantage in starter numbers.
To add fuel to the fire today four horses were transferred into Dalgety’s training. Young at Heart contender Comenche, promising two-year-old Locharburn, handy 1-Winner Skippy Rascal and star trotting trialist Princess Sophia have all teamed up with Dalgety’s West Melton stable, which should add considerable weight to his title chances. Wider than the four newbies, Dalgety has at least one runner at each of the four meetings this weekend, starting at Cambridge on Thursday night with MacBubbles and For The Ladies – both look well placed to be winning chances.
The last race of the season on Sunday will see two Purdon runners square off against three for Dalgety. What a fitting climax that would be to what has been a thoroughly entertaining season.
Should Dalgety win the premiership it will realise a lifelong ambition for him. If Mark Purdon holds on it will be his 9th title, either one his own or in partnership.
Stakes increases for NZ Metropolitan TC
It was pleasing to read a Media Release from Addington Raceway today announcing stakes at southern HQ will be increasing by 10% next season. As well as boosts to the club’s marquee races there will also be a ‘pumping up’ of the lower level races, which can only be good for all industry participants.
Here’s the link to the full media release http://www.addington.co.nz/wp-
Annual Conference - a chance to refocus and debate the issues
This Friday and Saturday clubs, kindred bodies, invited guests and HRNZ come together at the Copthorne Commodore Hotel in Christchurch for the annual harness racing conference. While the prime reason for the conference is the AGM and the adoption or not of rules and correspondence items, there isn’t anything too controversial amongst those this year. The conference this time around will have a strong focus on the industry position; improving ‘the lot’ of harness racing, its participants and how best it can move forward as a united code.
The hotter topics on the agenda involve a presentation regarding a new Broadcasting Strategy for the NZRB’s two racing channels, improving harness racing’s impact through all forms of media and some positive news regarding an increase in funding for harness racing clubs in season 2013/14.
Butcher and Dunn poised for milestones
David Butcher is back from his extended holiday after his World Drivers Championship crusade in France. He’s just two wins away from 100 for the season and with nine drives across two meetings in the north this week he looks a royal show of making it.
John Dunn could create his and some family orientated history if he can snare one more driving win. Currently on 99 for the season Dunn looks a red hot chance to win at least one as he drives the in form and very well placed Mach Banner in Friday night feature at Addington on Friday. In a remarkable season for the Dunn family Dexter will rack up close to 200 wins, John looks odds-on for 100+ and father Robert has enjoyed a record season of 87 wins to date. Robert has now trained more than 860 NZ winners in a long and illustrious career.
Young Drivers Compete in final showdown
Many of the best junior drivers are competing in a series of races at Alexandra Park on Friday night. The Alexandra Park Junior Drivers Challenge pits five from the north against five from the south. As much as anything this competition is a celebration of the contribution made by many of the outgoing junior drivers. Seven of the 10 competing drivers will join the ranks of open drivers in the new season. The challenge will run over four races on the Auckland TC’s 11-race card on Friday night.
$100,000 Terminating Pick 6 at Addington
On Friday night the last of the July Terminating Pick 6s will be offered. It’s a great chance to finish the season on a high. The Young at Heart and Golden Girls Finals (Legs 1 and 3 respectively) should ensure there’s a bit to chew on within he Pick 6. Barring Mach Banner in Leg 4 there is a scope for a juicy Pick 6 prize to usher out the 2012/13 season.
Stakes up in 2012/13
HRNZ can now confirm that stakes paid out in harness racing this past season will be up 5% or $1,355 million. This positive figure looks sure to be built on again next season, with changes to the Handicapping System also hoped to stimulate good, competitive racing and wagering.
by Andrew Morris (Harness Racing New Zealand)