Harness Racing New Zealand Chief Executive, Edward Rennell, has just, moments ago, announced some changes to next year’s Harness Jewels format on Radio Trackside.
The changes include increasing the field size for each of the nine Harness Jewels events to 13, and inviting one Australian competitor across to compete in each of the nine categories.
“The changes will not make it harder for New Zealand horses’ to make the fields,” stressed Rennell. “There will still be 12 spots for the top stake earners in New Zealand,” he added.
“The only difference is there will be a 13th spot for an Australian horse, which doesn’t necessarily have to race here beforehand.”
However, Edward is hopeful that it will help entice some Australian horses for races such as the Taylor Mile, New Zealand Messenger and, New Zealand Oaks, which are all run within a month of the Harness Jewels.
The added Australian interest is expected to help ‘Internationalised’ the iconic New Zealand event.
More Australians betting on the Harness Jewels and increased international awareness are some of the main aims.
By Mitchell Robertson
In a change to the conditions of the Harness Jewels, the Board of HRNZ has agreed to extend an invitation to a leading Australian horse in each age group category. The field size for each race will be extended to thirteen should the Australian horse take up this invitation. It is believed this will grow interest in the Harness Jewels in Australia and further enhance the profile of this event which has become a key event in the racing calendar each year.
The 2014 Harness Jewels are to be hosted by Harness Racing Waikato at Cambridge Raceway on 31 May 2014. Total stakes for the day will be $1.2m over the nine races, with this continuing to be New Zealand’s only race meeting where all stakes are for a minimum of $100,000.
In announcing this change, HRNZ Chairman Gary Allen said “This is an exciting change that will further enhance the quality of racing at the Jewels and be of great interest to the racing public. Inviting the leading Australian horse in each age group to participate will add an extra dimension and offers the opportunity to attract a larger audience. This has been a fantastic series for New Zealand participants and now is the perfect time to grow the international presence and awareness of the Harness Jewels.”
“The change will provide additional depth to the competition for each race and further enhance this as an iconic event on the international stage. It gives HRNZ, the New Zealand Racing Board and Harness Racing Waikato a great opportunity to further promote the event and grow turnover domestically and internationally,” Mr Allen said.
The twelve local contenders will continue to be determined based on stakes earned in the season within New Zealand as per the normal approach. The Australian invite will be selected on 1 May 2014 by a panel constituted by Harness Racing Australia (HRA).
HRA Chief Executive Andrew Kelly said “This is an outstanding development that will provide a great opportunity for our leading horses to match their Kiwi counterparts. This will be of significant interest to our industry and will help lift awareness of this great race day within Australia. HRA looks forward to be involved and hopefully we will see for the first time an Australian break the hoodoo and win on Jewels day.”
For more information please contact Harness Racing New Zealand - 03 964 1200