Day At The Track

Southern Harness to review field size

03:25 PM 19 Jul 2017 NZST
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Southern Harness action
Photo - Bruce Stewart

Reducing the maximum field size from 14 to 12 will be among items discussed at a meeting of the clubs attached to the Southern Harness Racing body, on Thursday next week.

Southern Harness General Manager Jason Broad says TAB figures indicate 12 is the optimum field size and has the potential to provide not only a better betting contest but also a better spectacle.

“It would also take the winner's share of the stake from 55 percent to 59 percent,” he added.

Broad eases the fear dropping each field by two will reduce opportunities.

“Since the rating system was introduced we've been running more races than ever,” he said.

He puts this down to the good work of the programming committee of which he, along with Clark Barron, Geoff Knight, Murray Swain and Nathan Williamson, are members.

“It's taken programming away from the Clubs and we've been able to put races on more consistently. Our discussions have only been positive and feedback good.”

Field size will be but one of a number of items discussed next week at the meeting of Club Presidents to confirm plans for the new season. There may also be some review of the current season but a full picture of financial performance is still some way off.

It will certainly be available for the AGM in November, at which the Board for the new season will be elected. The three board members each have a one year term with the current appointees being Murray Little (Invercargill HRC), plus John Earl and Kevin McNaught (other eight clubs). Nominations have not yet been called.

Even without the financials, Broad said the season has felt more positive. Stakes were up and all runners received a share, and they will be up about another 10 percent this season as the result of the extra Racing Board funds.

“Also, the HRNZ bonus of $1500 on every maiden race will go to the winner.”

Broad pointed out that the Southern Harness Board provides bulk stakes funding for each meeting, the Programme Committee allocates a sum to each race, and Clubs can add to it. The only races run for less than $8000 will be the Claimers contests, at $6000 because of their penalty free status. Most races other than for non-winners would be tiered from $8000 to $12,000, depending on a number of factors, with Cup races starting at $14,000.

The number of meetings in the catchment area for the new season is up from 38 to 40 with Ascot Park to host 18: Invercargill Club-14, Northern Southland-three and Riverton-one. There will be nine at the Central Southland Raceway: Winton-seven, Wairio-two; five each at the Young Quinn Raceway (Wyndham) and Gore Racecourse (Gore), and one each at Cromwell (Wyndham Club), Omakau (Central Otago) and Roxburgh.

Mac Henry

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