The recent announcement by New Zealand Sires' Stakes Board (NZSSB) outlined a raft of positive changes and new initiatives to address industry challenges.
New Zealand Standardbred Breeders' Association (NZSBA) has been heartened by the willingness of the NZSSB to undertake a review of Group Races with Harness Racing New Zealand (HRNZ). The Board is to be commended for being forward thinking and open to change.
NZSBA Chairman, John Mooney said, "The Sires' Stakes Board should be congratulated for these new initiatives. These series are accessible to all owners and breeders. The prize money is extremely attractive and provides a great incentive to continue breeding."
He added, "I especially welcome the increased number of qualifying races for 2YOs, the new 4YO and older races and the new Harness 5000 series. I encourage owners and breeders to participate in the series."
Stakes increases are always welcomed. With close to 50% of breeders also retaining ownership in their stock, this financial gain will also filter down to the coal face of the industry.
It has been no secret that field sizes are struggling. NZSBA is pleased that entry into the two-year-old Sires Stakes races has been expanded to include form from non-Sires Stakes races. This will encourage greater participation.
The creation of five new four-year-old and older conditioned races for pacing mares and trotters is especially welcome. We hope this will encourage the greater retention of horses that have not won Group 1 races. With industry support this will grow into more opportunities for our aged horses.
The Harness 5000 is an innovative idea to give greater opportunity to the progeny of stallions who stand for $5000 or less. This allows for the owners of 'grass roots' horses to enjoy racing for a slice of the $40,000 on offer in stakes.
NZSBA continues its strong support for NZSSB. The association appoints three members to the Board. We congratulate the Board and staff on the work done to ensure there are optimal racing opportunities for our stock.
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