Day At The Track
Search Results
1 to 16 of 32

Following on from the recent email communication sent out on behalf of the ATC re the March 1 stakes increases and field selection, we would like to further announce the following changes to our programming for June & July 2019 to take us through to the end of the current 2018/19 racing seasons - at which point another announcement re the differing tiers of stake on offer here at the ATC going forward into the 2019/20 season commencing August 1 2019.   We are proud to offer industry leading stakes and see this vital to the foreseeability of the industry. The ATC has made a commitment to continuing to build upon these increases and once the construction is complete and Building A & B have settled, we will be in a better financial position to continue to invest in the industry & make every effort possible towards ensuring the sustainability of our industry for many years to come. After a great amount of consultation with many industry participants / stakeholders, it has been decided that for June & July here at the ATC, a tiered stakes structure will apply. What this will mean is that all R rated races (pacing / trotting) up-to-R54 (approx.) will be run for a stake of $14,999 - with all races that are confirmed on the final programme to have a bottom rating cap of R55+ to carry a $20,000 stake. Given the spread of ratings and final race splits are entirely dependent on nominations received for any given meeting, there may be the case for example in which a race carries a final split of say R53-58 - given the bottom rating cap of this race is below R55, this will pertain to a $14,999 stake. We will continue to programme a $25,000 race (again both pacing / trotting) for the tightest assessed race on any given standard meeting (where acceptances allow for an approximate R65 & Faster split to get off the ground). Non-winners races, 2YO races & Junior Driver races will additionally also carry a stake of $14,999 (Please note - the NZRB's payment of $1,500 that goes to all horses when they have their first win for tote races up-to-and-including $14,999 will continue to be added to the first placed winners stake for the balance of the current season). On the subject on non-winners races, the ATC would also like to announce to trainers that after consultation with the N.I Horsemen's Association, the use of preferential barrier draws (based on sex) that has up to this point been applied on sex in the instances where only one non-winners race is programmed or finalised for any meeting - will now only be in effect every second meeting with an open draw to apply on alternating weeks. The South of the Bombay's races that were so popular last season will once again be programmed throughout June & July and as such, these will also carry a $14,999 stake. Similar conditions will apply to these races this season as they did the last - however these will be confirmed in the coming days and shortly be available for perusal when the June tentative programmes are made available online in the coming days - with a likely ratings band of R40-65 to apply along with other conditions. Of course, should you be an (eligible) R55-65 horse and not wanting to run for the $14,999 stake these S.O.T.B races offer, then you will be more than welcome to take your chance in the R55+ races which offer that $20,000 stake. We would like to thank you for your feedback and hope that this is something that the industry welcomes. The ATC aims to create the most professional racing, sporting & entertainment environment and whilst it was recently announced that where applicable at any given meeting horses will be selected from the top-down, this will run in conjunction with other main objectives such as creating full and even betting fields and so this policy of selection will always be subject to nominations received for any given meeting, with a top-down approach in-use where nominations permit. All the best for the coming winter months - we wish you all the best and look forward to having you race here at The Park.   Kind regards, Derek Balle ATC Racing Committee Chair

CEO Dominique Dowding has resigned from Auckland Trotting Club (ATC) for personal reasons. Dominique advised the board recently that she wished to spend more time with an immediate family member who is unwell. She leaves with our gratitude and appreciation for her contribution to the organisation over more than six years. The board will commence a formal recruitment process to seek a permanent appointment to the CEO role. In the interim, Rod Croon, former ATC board president and current board member has stepped in as Executive Director – Rod is a valued industry stalwart who has made significant contributions to the club and wider industry. Rod is working with CFO Byron Waring and the senior management team to ensure a smooth transition to a new CEO for ATC. In relation to the development, ATC has shared the builder completion dates of April 2020 to Building A residents and November 2019 to Building B residents. We are holding Residents’ Evenings this month to discuss further with residents and address any concerns. On another note, a limited number of these sought-after apartments are now available for purchase, and these have been listed with Bayleys for resale. If you are interested in purchasing one of these apartments, we would advise you contact Shalini Hira at or 021 175 4657 as soon as possible to register your interest and secure the opportunity. It is a busy time for ATC and we will continue our operations as usual. We look forward to advising you when a new CEO is confirmed.   Rod Croon  Executive Director  

"Syndicates offer Kiwis an affordable way to race well-bred horses trained by top trainers. They also provide great networking opportunities and most importantly they're a lot of fun," says Andrew Jamieson, Syndicate Manager at the Auckland Trotting Club. He says the Auckland Trotting Club's 2019 Syndicate is now open and is selling fast. This follows the club choosing three leading New Zealand trainers to select and buy three horses at the yearling sales earlier this year for syndication. Each young horse comes with great breeding and much promise. "Our 2019 Syndicate will be racing three well-bred yearlings by top sires Bettor's Delight, American Ideal and up-and-comer Alta Christiano." The three horses people now have a chance to own and race are called Bet West, Christianshavtime and Alta Redeemer. The latter is a half-brother to recent Addington winner Alta Orlando and will be trained by Robert Dunn. Syndication, or shared ownership, is fast becoming the most popular means for people to race horses. Mr Jamieson says as an authorised syndicator, the club has a great track-record when it comes to establishing and overseeing successful horse racing syndications. Advertising is now underway, with the call going out: 'Ever wanted to own and race a pacer?' He says over 30 shareholders have been locked in already, with many more making enquiries and impressed with the quality of the horses on offer. Auckland Trotting Club's Racing Manager Regan Cotter says the club is committed to ongoing increases to stakes, making joining a syndicate an even more exciting proposition. What's more he says there's no bigger thrill than watching your own horse compete. "Key to harness racing's future is lifting ownership and involvement regardless of anyone's level of expertise, budget, or prior interest. Syndicates play a big part in that," says Mr Cotter. To find out more about syndication, the three horses, or have an information pack sent to you, visit: or contact Andrew Jamieson on (09) 238-9212, (021) 253-8765 or Andrew Jamieson - Auckland Trotting Club Syndicate Manager - (021) 253-8765 Regan Cotter - Auckland Trotting Club Racing Manager - (0272) 491-205          

Cathy Gubb has been appointed Human Resources Manager at the Auckland Trotting Club, bringing a wealth of international experience to the role based at harness racing's Alexandra Park. Over the past decade Ms Gubb has held several HR managerial roles in the United Arab Emirates and Sierra Leone in West Africa. She has worked in sectors including construction, civil engineering, mining, petroleum, and facilities management services. Prior to that Ms Gubb worked as an HR consultant for St John Ambulance Service, HR Manager at Southern Spars NZ, and for two leading multi-disciplinary infrastructure engineering and architectural design consultancies. She has a Bachelor of Business Studies (HRM) from Massey University, a Diploma of Business from AUT, and is a Qualified Member of the Human Resources Institution of New Zealand. “I am delighted to join Alexandra Park at such an exciting time. The massive ‘urban village’ development is under construction, not to mention the 41 race nights they host every year, and of course the hundreds of functions and events. There’s so much breadth to the role and so much going on. It’s certainly not a run of the mill office job, particularly when you look out over a race track every day,” says Ms Gubb. Chief Executive of Alexandra Park, Dominique Dowding, says the 128-year-old club is delighted to attract the skills and experience Cathy Gubb brings to the role. “Alexandra Park is undergoing a major transformation both physically and in a commercial sense as we work to secure the future of harness racing here in the North. Cathy’s role is key to ensuring we have the right staff and we give them all the necessary support to deliver on the board and management team’s many aspirations,” says Ms Dowding. Cathy Gubb replaces Alexandra Park’s former Human Resources Manager Gaye Wilson. For further information contact: Dominique Dowding (021) 377-303 or Cathy Gubb (027) 734-0054.

The Auckland Trotting Club has a great track-record when it comes to establishing and overseeing horse racing syndications. Now the 128-year old iconic club is again calling on Kiwis to consider joining a syndicate ahead of the 2019 season. Syndication, or shared ownership, is fast becoming the most popular means for people to race horses. As an authorised syndicator, the Auckland Trotting Club has consistently led in this area over the past two decades, with statistics proving its 17 syndicates have been very successful overall. Syndicate Manager Andrew Jamieson is calling on registrations of interest. He is keen to encourage people from all walks of life to investigate syndication and says many will be pleasantly surprised. "It's an affordable and low-risk way into harness racing. It provides people unique access into the ownership of well-bred yearlings selected and trained by some of the country's best. What's more, it's a lot of fun," says Mr Jamieson. Auckland Trotting Club's Racing Manager Regan Cotter believes there's no bigger thrill than watching your own horse compete, and says it's is a great time to do so because the stakes have gone up. For the current 2017/2018 season there's over $8 million in prize-money up for grabs at Alexandra Park alone across 41 race meetings. "The Auckland Trotting Club has shown great vision with its programme to lift stakes significantly. Not only do higher stakes make for more exciting racing, but they make horse ownership and participation more attractive and viable. Joining a syndicate now is a really exciting proposition," says Mr Cotter. Last year the club launched a dedicated racehorse ownership portal on its website, which takes people through syndication membership, as well as individual ownership, part ownership, company ownership, and leasing options. "The Auckland Trotting Club is all about sustaining harness racing into the future. Key to that is promoting ownership and involvement in this great sport of ours regardless of anyone's level of expertise, budget, or prior interest," says Mr Cotter. To find out more about syndication, or have an information pack sent to you, visit: or contact Syndication Manager Andrew Jamieson on (09) 238-9212, (021) 253-8765 or   Cameron Brewer        

Two new directors have been appointed to the board of the Auckland Trotting Club – Keith Sumner and Laurie Peckham. Keith Sumner is Managing Director of corporate travel company Gilpin Travel which he and his wife have owned and managed for 20 years. He has also worked for large multinationals including Newscorp, Carter Holt Harvey and Heinz. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Auckland, graduated from The Icehouse’s Owner Manager Programme, and sits on the Board of First Travel Group. “Keith’s commercial expertise, particularly in customer engagement and managing a successful business, coupled with his lifetime passion in harness racing make him a welcome addition to the Board,” says Dominique Dowding, Chief Executive of Alexandra Park. Laurie Peckham’s career extends over 35 years in the construction industry. He is currently a Project Manager and an Associate with Xigo Ltd which specialises in project management for the building, property and infrastructure sectors. He has held media management roles for large sporting events and was chairman of the Ponsonby Rugby League Club for five years. “In addition to his construction, project management, and sports administration experience, Laurie brings to the Board a long involvement in racing having owned, bred, and raced Standardbred horses,” says Ms Dowding. The appointments follow the recent retirement of John Green from the Board, who was specifically appointed in 2014 for his skills in property development and was a member of the Auckland Trotting Club’s Project Control Group. The Property Control Group is overseeing the current construction of the Club’s significant urban village development on Green Lane West due to open later this year. “The appointments of Keith Sumner and Laurie Peckham reinforce the Auckland Trotting Club’s strong commercial model and its real strength in property,” says Ms Dowding. Dominique Dowding – CEO of Alexandra Park – (021) 377-303.    

The Auckland Trotting Club has launched a dedicated racehorse ownership portal on its website. It contains everything prospective owners need to know about standardbred ownership in New Zealand, including types of harness racing ownership on offer, agents’ details, industry advice, costs, as well as the benefits – tangible and intangible. “It’s a great time to own a racehorse as the stakes have recently gone up at Alexandra Park. Regardless of any financial returns, there’s nothing better than the thrill of seeing your very own racehorse take to the track and experiencing the journey alongside friends and family,” says Regan Cotter, Racing Manager at Alexandra Park. He says the new portal brings together a lot of information for the first time. It is a key outcome of a significant ownership project undertaken by the Auckland Trotting Club to help sustain harness racing into the future, as well as make it easier for people to get involved in ownership no matter their level of expertise, budget, or interest. Mr Cotter says the ownership portal on Alexandra Park’s website can be visited right here. “We often get told ‘I’d love to be involved and own a share in a horse, but I just wouldn’t know where to start’. Well that’s now a thing of the past! The Auckland Trotting Club’s ownership portal is only a click away and before you know it you’ll be off and racing, cheering home your pride and joy.” The Racing Manager has just penned a column titled ‘ATC leading the way making ownership as easy as 1,2,3….’ which captures the sheer on-course excitement of owning a racehorse. The column is now busy getting shared on social media and can be read here. Mr Cotter says for the current 2017/2018 season there’s over $8 million in prize-money up for grabs at Alexandra Park alone across 41 race meetings - up from 37. “Now no race has a total stake less than $12,000, and it goes up from there. It’s a $14,500 minimum for the race-winners’ class and $17,000 for our highest rated trotters and pacers. Again, those are minimums. “Our stakes are up significantly from what we were offering last season and well above any minimum the gallops offer. The higher stakes are already helping to lift our field numbers for our Friday night meetings which always means better racing. What’s more lifting our stakes makes horse ownership and participation more viable.” Types of ownership include individual ownership, part ownership, syndicate membership, company ownership, or leasing. At any Friday Night at the Trots ownership can provide brand exposure, team building, and networking opportunities. While the likes of being in a syndicate is a great way to get a foot into the harness racing industry. Mr Cotter says as well as increasing returns for owners at Alexandra Park, the iconic venue itself is set to dramatically transform – making horse ownership even more fun. With 246 high-end apartments and a whole new ‘urban village’ now under construction, Alexandra Park is set to become the newest entertainment destination in Auckland, showcasing a unique and outstanding mix of eateries. “We’d like to thank everyone who was involved, in particular some trainers and licensed syndicators, ensuring we developed what is now the most comprehensive ownership portal in the industry. “The Auckland Trotting Club wants to make ownership and getting involved in this great sport of ours as easy as possible, and this is a great step to achieving that,” says Mr Cotter. For further information visit Alexandra Park Racing Manager, Regan Cotter (0272) 491-205

Members of the Auckland Trotting Club formally received and signed off their 2017 Annual Report at the harness racings organisation’s Annual General Meeting this week. Chief Executive of Alexandra Park, Dominique Dowding, says considerable progress has been made on the club’s number one strategic priority to reinvigorate harness racing. This was helped by the fact that all 246 apartments in the club’s mixed-use development had sold unconditionally - raising nearly $295 million, with the ‘urban village’ on Green Lane West now well under construction. “The ongoing development of Green Lane West will ensure the club can keep revitalising both its venues and products going forward. For example, by 2018/19 the club will be receiving additional revenue via the likes of its new retail leases,” says Ms Dowding. Auckland Trotting Club president Bruce Carter says the past year was one of continued improvement for the club’s financial position, with a substantial uplift in the valuation of its total assets. This follows recent rezoning approval and subdivision consent for the rest of Alexandra Park’s Green Lane West frontage. “The club has increased its net asset base to $164m in 2017 and is one of the strongest asset-based racing clubs in New Zealand, something its members can be proud of,” he says. Overall the club reported a net surplus of over $6.5m for the 2016/17 financial year. It also reported an operating profit after depreciation and amortisation of $69,000 – which was $519,000 better than the $450,000 loss budgeted for the same period. Mr Carter reported on the growth in stakes, with the club’s goal to increase them further over the next five-years.  This year with the help of the NZ Racing Board, the club increased the minimum stake per race at Alexandra Park to $12,000 - the highest for a harness racing club in New Zealand. He says further increases to stakes will be made possible with the completion of the development. He thanked members for their ongoing support and reassured them the board and staff are fully committed to ensuring the Auckland Trotting Club’s core ideals are upheld. Ms Dowding reflected on the changing racing scene in recent decades, and how in 2013 the club’s board and management embarked on an ambitious and aggressive strategy with the vision to ensure future sustainability and control its own destiny. Since then, enormous work has gone into reshaping and extracting the highest and best use of the club’s land holdings. “Four years ago, when the strategy was deployed, we had a declining racing industry, funding had plateaued, over $16m in deferred maintenance, an asset that was in dire need of revitalisation, and an organisation that had flat-lined through a lack of reinvestment. “Today there are positive signs for our industry via the growth in funding, stakes and an extremely bright future for the business of the Auckland Trotting Club. An increase in industry funding has not only enabled an increase in our stakes, but the number of race meetings has also increased from 37 to 41 for the 2017/18 season.” The Annual Report showed that demand for Alexandra Park’s functions facilities and its meetings business continues. In 2016/17 the food and beverage division earned around $6.2m in revenue, with the function centre contributing around $4.6m of that. The functions team managed over 867 events, achieving occupancy levels consistent with the previous year. Race night dining grew strongly with revenue per race night up 16% on the previous year. While the sponsorship team was successful in attracting $790,000 of revenue - an increase of 6.5%. The club’s commissions from its onsite TAB increased following a staggering operating result. In the past year the TAB at Alexandra Park lifted its turnover from $15.7m to $22m - an annual turnover that puts it $10m higher than its closest TAB competitor and cements it as New Zealand’s largest. The club’s property division contributed $2.6m in revenue this year up from $2.3m in 2016. This was driven by an increase in income from the club’s existing rental properties and by strong parking revenues including from visiting campervans during the Lions Tour. Overall operational savings were also reported, and a commitment was made that costs will continue to be challenged throughout the organisation. Ms Dowding says 62% of the club’s total revenue is now generated by other departments outside of racing which continues to grow. Nonetheless at 38%, racing income growth remains important. Field sizes have increased from 9.3 to 9.7, while the amalgamation in recent years to create the Franklin Park Training Centre continues to deliver, with the numbers of horse training at Pukekohe lifting on average from 120 to 240. Looking forward to the coming year, the club will ensure the development is completed, as well as roll out its new strategic plan for the next five years – again in the name of sustaining harness racing into the future. In racing, the club aims to continue to raise the numbers of owners, young trainers and drivers helped by a continued lift in stakes, as well as work to attract and grow new audiences. On other aspects of its business the club will continue to improve customer service, focus on driving overall sales and additional revenue streams, as well as review its current assets and venues. With the opening of its urban village from next year, including new restaurants and cafes, the club is determined to “bring back Alexandra Park as an attractive destination”. At the Annual General Meeting, Auckland Trotting Club members voted on the election of board members and the return of Bruce Carter as president. Members also voted in a new constitution, and were advised that a decision around whether to roll out a further stage of the club’s urban village development would be made later this year or early next year after a review of market conditions. Dominique Dowding: (021) 377-303 or (09) 630-9700

Eight months on from being announced as the new Racing Manager at the Auckland Trotting Club, Regan Cotter says he’s optimistic about Alexandra Park’s future and New Zealand harness racing generally. With 1 August marking a new racing season, the board at Alexandra Park took the strategic decision to direct any extra industry funding straight into substantially lifting its stakes. “Now no race has a total stake less than $12,000, and it goes up from there. It’s a $14,500 minimum for the race-winners’ class and $17,000 for our highest rated trotters and pacers. Again, those are minimums. Our stakes are up significantly from what we were offering last season and well above any minimum the gallops offer,” says Mr Cotter. Alexandra Park’s higher stakes are already helping to lift its field numbers for its Friday night meetings. Another boast has been the extra race nights Alexandra Park has been allocated this season - up to 41 from 37. “The ongoing challenge is the small horse pool we have in the North Island. So, collaboration between trotting clubs is increasingly important. We want to maximise the use of the horse pool and not cannibalise it and each other. “We work very closely with Cambridge which has 25 race nights and there’s Manawatu which races on 24 nights. Then there’s some in the likes of Taranaki that race once a year or so. But the important thing is we work together to coordinate things as best we can.” Also helping is the fact that his predecessor and previous boss at Alexandra Park, Kevin Smith, moved onto be a Handicapper at Harness Racing New Zealand, and now also oversees programming for the North Island. Mr Cotter says increasing participation from the South Island is also important. “Having the vision to lift stakes significantly will make horse ownership and participation more viable. With most harness racing based in the South Island, we want a bigger piece of that action. If we ever got to $30,000 stakes for example, South Island owners and trainers would start setting up satellite stables near Auckland, as well as send their horses north for more races. That’s the power of rising stakes!  “Stakes also improve the punting experience as fields lift from five, six or seven to eleven, twelve and thirteen horses so you get better competition and a more interesting sport.” As well as stakes, the number of race nights, and improving interclub collaboration, Mr Cotter says the racing department is working closely with the marketing team at Alexandra Park. “Maybe it’s a reflection of my youth, but I’m fully aware we’re also in the business of entertainment in fiercely competitive Auckland. We’ve got to make the Friday Night Trots a viable and attractive option for young people. Our marketing team with all its advertising, hospitality events and theme nights is doing exactly that and getting some great results.” Also sponsorship is up at Alexandra Park including naming rights, advertising hoardings, and corporate sponsorship packages. While its functions centre hosts about 1,000 gatherings each year. He says the club’s relentless work to improve the prospects of racing is starting to be realised, helping to silence even the most pessimistic. He believes the construction of Alexandra Park’s new urban village development will make a huge difference to the sustainability and profile of the sport. “For me the apartment development is huge for us. Not only will the extra revenue enable the board to keep lifting the stakes and improving our facilities, but just think of all the extra exposure for harness racing. There will be literally hundreds of people living next to a live racing track, with many having spectacular views on Friday nights from their balconies. Not to mention the thousands of Aucklanders that will frequent all the new restaurants and cafes within the urban village.” In January, he was dubbed arguably the youngest person to ever hold such a role in harness racing history. Since then 27-year-old Regan Cotter says he’s worked hard to create an environment of openness and positivity. “I’m the go-to person for the owners, drivers, and trainers and am constantly liaising with all the different industry bodies. I’ve tried to instigate a culture where people can openly raise any issues with me and that’s working well. In our industry, it seems very easy for people to get negative, so I’m always keen to get ahead of that where I can.” Mr Cotter says open communication includes Alexandra Park sending out regular emails to its stakeholders and members and everyone working hard to better engage with what is an ageing industry.  The club’s latest initiative is to hold training seminars at the Franklin Park Training Centre, which Alexandra Park amalgamated with a few years ago to provide affordable full training facilities near Pukekohe. “As well as offering up opportunities for owners and trainers, we’re also working more closely with our junior drivers and getting them more involved in our Friday night operations. “That includes paying some of them to be the starter’s assistant, or to help with the judges or mobile drivers, with time-keeping or whatever needs to be done. It’s all about training up the next generation so we have enough skills and experience to keep running these Friday nights into the future.” Mr Cotter sits on the Youth Council for Harness Racing New Zealand – an initiative by the national body to also help meet the challenges an ageing industry presents. He says an array of subsidies and schemes to support those under 30 are now well advanced. As well as junior driver races every second meeting, another thing to draw attention recently was a Monte Saddle exhibition race where riders sat on the backs of trotters and were given a mobile start. He says Alexandra Park will look to deliver more exhibition races and entertainment drawcards to help make their Friday nights a more interesting proposition. It’s also no coincidence that Auckland Cup Day on 31 December is heavily promoted and catered for as a family day out. “We’re all about harness racing, with Alexandra Park’s board, management, and chief executive Dominique Dowding dedicated to ensuring harness racing has a strong and sustainable future right here in the middle of Auckland. “That’s why it’s critical this place is run as a business, and because it is Alexandra Park’s now getting some real runs on the board. At the same time, many in the harness racing industry are working better together, and believe me that’s no mean feat. All in all, there’s a lot to be positive about,” says Regan Cotter. For further information visit  

Just months after announcing some of the largest stake increases in harness racing history the Auckland Trotting Club has decided they are not big enough. So the home of northern harness racing has decided to hit harder and sooner, with an ambitious plan to try and nearly double stakes inside four years. The ATC were planning on a major stake boost at the start of the 2018-19 season --- 13 months away --- but that has been increased and brought forward to the start of the new season August 1. The club will pour $1.3million more into stakes next season, meaning no race at Alexandra Park next year will be for less than $12,000. That is already the benchmark for most grades of races but the club has often run two conditioned races on their cards as they struggle for horse numbers, with those run at a lesser stake. "But they will go up to $12,000 now too, so basically a normal Friday night meeting next season will see a stakes range from $12,000 to 17,000," says ATC president Bruce Carter. On top of that HRNZ will pay a $1500 bonus to all maiden winners, meaning a maiden win at Alexandra Park next season will be worth at least $7500. "We are also putting $90,000 into boosting some of the group two and three races, particularly races like the National Trot and Trotting Derby because owners have rightly suggested the trotters deserve more respect." While a $1.3millon boost to a $12,000 minimum across the board sounds great, it is what happens next that will should really make the club the envy of harness administrators around the country. The following season the ATC will boost stakes again by $40,000 per meeting, or on average $4000 per race with the very real possibility they could do the same thing the season after. "We will go to the $12,000 minimum for all races in a few weeks but the $40,000 per meeting will come on top of that the next season when we see completion of the first of our real estate developments," says Carter. "The board have agreed to spending a chunk of that money on stakes so we will just need to work out how we do that." With maidens worth $12,000, a $4000 boost would take them to $16,000, unheard of anywhere in Australasia. But that could cause a somewhat welcome problem in that any horse winning a race more than $14,999 gets a metropolitan penalty in Australia, meaning if Alexandra Park maidens go to $15,000 they could make winners harder to sell. "So we will look at that, it might be maidens rise to $14,999 and then most other grades of races at $18,000 or even $20,000," said Carter. "We are aware of concerns about the export market but we want to make stakes so good owners don't want to sell their horses." Carter says the $20,000 base stake for anything but maidens is realistic in two years as the ATC continues its property developments and if the NZ Racing Board is able to deliver its forecast increases in profit from better betting platforms and the Race Fields legislation. NZRB and ATC board member Rod Croon says the two increased revenue streams together --- TAB funding and the huge property developments ongoing at Alexandra Park --- should see stake increases for four years running. "There are economic factors there that have to pan out the way the way they are expected but if they do our dream goal is to have every Friday night race at Alexandra Park in four years worth around $30,000," says Croon. "That is realistic on the figures we are working on." While the increases are hard to comprehend and start to rival the best galloping stakes in New Zealand, the ATC has upset some trainers by deciding to do away with the $150 per starter fee paid to trainers, although owners will still be guaranteed up to two per cent of the stake for starters who finished down the track. "The over-whelming opinion from owners we spoke to is that the wanted money to go into stakes," says Carter. "So we are pouring as much money as we can into stakes, to attract owners, which can only help trainers and make the industry more sustainable." MONEY MATTERS ** The ATC will boost stakes by $1.3million for next season, starting August 1. ** They then plan to add another $40,000 per meeting the following season. ** The club's goal is to race for $30,000 minimum stakes inside five years. Michael Guerin

The Auckland Trotting Club is reviewing and resetting its overall business strategy, determined to commercially position a sustainable future for the business and harness racing, says Alexandra Park chief executive, Dominique Dowding “We did a major organisational overhaul a few years ago with our key strategic pillars being sustaining harness racing, finding new revenue sources, and growing the club’s property portfolio. We achieved all our strategies with our urban village development being the final one and so found ourselves at a crossroads,” she says. “Steady as she goes is just not an option so the board and management’s renewed focus is to take the organisation to the next level and ready the club commercially for the next decade.” Ms Dowding says the process of resetting the Auckland Trotting Club’s business strategy means assessing its products and services right across its broad operations. “Under our racing strategy we need to assist our trainers by finding a new breed of owners via syndicate participation and we see our younger Friday night racing attendees as the future of our industry. We’ll also be reviewing our function venues and attractions. “And with our property portfolio, it’s all about continuing to create a new destination with our urban village development for entertainment, lifestyle and hospitality to ensure substantial growth.” She says the construction of a new training centre and long-term lease by The Blues rugby franchise in 2015 has been a good move, with the club needing to not only attract further compatible tenants but increase the value of its leases. “I want us to move from an annual total turnover of $22m to $30m, sitting on a half billion dollars’ worth of assets in the coming decade. That’s where I believe we need to be, and with a stronger commercial model we can be. “We will also reflect on our governance structure to make sure the club is well served into the future, particularly given the increasing commercial complexity across our property portfolio and the sheer breadth of our business now.” Ms Dowding says the club remains very cognisant of its longstanding members, and the many traditions and practices that come with a 127-year-old organisation. However, in the five years that she has been chief executive she has been heartened at members’ ability to absorb and accept necessary change. “Our members know that if we are to remain racing in the 21st Century in Australasia’s fastest growing city, we need to fully transition into a commercial entity and this is exactly what this latest strategic reset is all about. We simply have to take a pretty aggressive approach if we are to keep growing to ensure the sustainability of the industry in the north.” The chief executive says attendance numbers are generally up for Alexandra Park’s Friday nights at the trots. What’s more is its race-night functions are also enjoying growth helped by the likes of well-promoted themed cuisine nights, and the club’s ‘value for money’ free parking, free entry, and free race book proposition. “We’re getting more people through the gate and constantly need to deliver a great experience so that we become the product of choice in what is a very crowded entertainment market in Auckland. “Our products need to be well priced, relevant and constantly refreshed. As well as keeping ahead with today’s fast moving marketing channels, we also need to keep attracting new sponsors while retaining our old ones. We’re getting good results, but the best thing we can now do is eye up the next decade to lock in our future.” She says despite years of static industry funding, moves this coming season bode well for racing. Recently the New Zealand Racing Board announced a substantial boost to stakes from 1 August, which will include harness racing. At the same time the number of Friday night meetings at Alexandra Park will increase from 37 to 41. As well as operational success, the Auckland Trotting Club’s asset base and reach is also strengthening. This includes the amalgamation with the Franklin Trotting Club which has delivered the industry an affordable training centre. Their large Epsom site continues to climb in value, thanks partly to the rezoning of a former carpark where 246 apartments are now under construction. More recently Auckland Council’s unitary plan has seen the rest of the club’s Green Lane West frontage zoned ‘mixed-use’, allowing for any future development the club may want to pursue. In 2015 and 2016 the club sold nearly $300m of freehold apartments, with Colliers International statistics confirming the development commanded some of the best prices in Auckland and was among the fastest selling. It will include some leading hospitality and retailers, with a FreshChoice supermarket already leased. “The fact we will have all these residents soon living at Alexandra Park is something we also have to factor into our planning. Not to mention all the visitors to the cafes and al fresco restaurants. Within the next two years we will have transitioned from being a trotting club and function centre to becoming a whole new urban village and heart for Epsom. “Not only will we get a new crowd coming through our gates, but we’ll also have hundreds of permanent residents who we’ll be encouraging to take out a membership and come along to our race nights.” The club is now actively investigating a further stage, with registrations of interest, via the development’s website to purchase any additional apartments, proving to be strong. Testament to the club’s transformational success was winning the supreme award for ‘Excellence in Strategy & Planning’ at the 2015 Westpac Business Awards. While in 2016 the chief executive won the ‘Women In Property’ award at the New Zealand Property Council’s inaugural Auckland Property People Awards. Ms Dowding says while the past five years of strategic planning and work has put the Auckland Trotting Club on a more commercial footing, the next five years must install commercial best practice across the business to ensure harness racing can remain a fixture in Auckland. “Everything we do is about racing. That will never change. The club may be resetting its business strategy, but our driving vision to protect and sustain the future of harness racing remains central to every decision we make,” says Ms Dowding. For further information contact Dominique Dowding: (021) 377-303 or (09) 630-9700 

The harness racing ringaround had a good week last week with several short priced winners and a number of placings. The highest winning dividend last week went to Mark Jones whose selection Arannalea won at Winton. This week there are five meetings with one in the North and four in the South. Thursday is Forbury Park. Auckland is on Friday night at Alexandra Park along with Westport (grass), while the weekend sees Invercargill on Saturday. On Sunday Reefton have a grass meeting and we also have a selection for Melton in Australia on Saturday night. Note: We will keep adding to this page if more tips come in after the deadline, so check back often.   Forbury on Thursday Gerard O'Reilly - Gerard thinks Sounds Like A Gem is a good chance at Forbury in Race 3 Geoff Knight - Geoff says his best chance this week is Silver Dale also in Race 3 Rory Mcllwrick - Rory is going for Blazer S as his best chance at Forbury in Race 4 Matthew Williamson - Matthew is opting for Brads Kenny as his best this week in Race 8 Terry Chmiel - Terry thinks his best chance is Man Of Steel at Forbury in Race 9 John Morrison - John thinks his best drive this week is Motu Speedy Star in Race 10   Westport (Grass) on Friday Ricky May - Ricky is opting for Westar Bella as his best drive at Westport in Race 2 John Curtin - John thinks Master Jordy is a good chance at Westport in Race 3 Mark Jones - Mark thinks Johnny Eyre would be a good chance at Westport in Race 7 Harnesslink Reporter - says Mogul is a good chance fresh up in Race 9   Auckland on Friday Scott Phelan - Scott says his best drive would be Il Pirata at Auckland in Race 1 Tony Herlihy - Tony is going for Gold Orchid as his best chance this week in Race 6 Stephen Richardson (TAB) - thinks Waikiki Beach is a good chance at Auckland in Race 8 Andre Poutama - Andre is going for Whitecliff Chapel as his best chance this week in Race 9 Maurice Mckendry - Maurice says his best drive is Eclipse Me also in Race 9 at Auckland Todd Mcfarlane - Todd thinks Heavyweight Hero would be his best drive this week in Race 10   Invercargill on Saturday Kirk Larsen - Kirk thinks his best chance this week is Yankee Diva in Race 1 Andrew Suddaby - says Ask Me Major  would be his best chance in Race 2 Brad Williamson - is going for Delight My Soul as his best drive this week also in Race 2 Shane Walkinshaw - thinks his best drive this week is Shawami Lass in Race 6 Brent Barclay - Brent says his best drive would be Young Conqueror in Race 7 Blair Orange - Blair is going for Mongolian Storm as his best chance this week in Race 11   Tabcorp Park Melton (Australia) Saturday night Gavin Smith - Gavin is going for Great Things Happen as his best chance this week in Race 8   Harnesslink Media  

The Auckland Trotting Club has appointed Regan Cotter as it’s Racing Manager. The 26-year-old took over from Kevin Smith last Thursday (January 26). Smith will now work for Harness Racing New Zealand as their handicapper in the north. One of the youngest Racing Managers to ever land the job, Cotter was ecstatic with his appointment. “Even though it’s a big challenge, I am extremely excited about the position and want to thank the ATC Board and Dominique Dowding (CEO) for their support and putting faith in me. “Alexandra Park is one of the most progressive racing clubs in New Zealand, both on and off the track, and to be the club’s racing manager is a dream come true,” Cotter said. “I also want to thank Kevin for the solid grounding he gave me,” he added. Cotter came to Alexandra Park in August 2015. He was born in Levin and educated in Wanganui. “I’m very excited about the job. I’ve learnt so much in the 17 months I have been here. I’ve always wanted a job in either sport or racing. I couldn’t be happier,” North Shore-based Cotter said. Cotter said he brought youthful enthusiasm to the job. “There are a lot of young people involved in harness racing. To me they are the future of the industry,” he said. Cotter was educated at Wanganui Collegiate School and at the end of seventh-form (Year 13) he spent a gap year coaching sport at Millfield Prep School in Glastonbury in Somerset, England. Cotter is a better than average cricket and hockey player and has always been interested in racing and thanks to his father and best friend Paul, he has had a long interest in racing. “Dad used to be a greyhound trainer back in the 1970s, 80s and early 90s and raced a lot at the former Solway Park track. He has always been interested in racing”. “I remember we always went to the Otaki grass trots every year and whenever Dad comes to Auckland we always go to Alexandra Park together”. “It’s a great track, one of the best around,” Cotter said. On returning from England Cotter graduated from AUT (Auckland University of Technology) with a Bachelor of Communications. Then from 2011 to 2013 he worked as a technical producer for Radio Trackside. “I really enjoyed my time with Radio Trackside. I got more familiar with racing and worked alongside people like Nathan Rarere, Ian Smith, Richard Loe, Murray Owles, Alby Gain, Peter Earley, Simon Doull, and Mark Rosonowski. “But this is the job I wanted. I really want to make racing my career choice in life,” said Cotter. Trainers have already applauded Cotter’s ability to relate and get on well with them. Cotter believed that was one of his strongest attributes. “I want to do my job with a smile and treat people the way I want to be treated. Life is too short to be angry. There are a whole lot challenges but that’s what I thrive on,” said Cotter. He said there were also exciting times outside racing at ‘The Park’. “The building developments and the business that operate at Alexandra Park make the job really exciting. We have even got our first Blues game coming up. They will play in the middle of the racetrack against the Hurricanes,” he said. “This is an awesome opportunity for me and I’m going to tackle it with positivity and enthusiasm. I want to Club to keep progressing forward and as Racing Manager I see that as one of my vital roles. “I think my time at University and the skills I learnt there, especially communication, will help me achieve that,” Cotter said. “I think my humble roots will also put me in good stead. At the end of the day I see it as my role to keep everyone happy and keep progressing the high standard of racing we have at Alexandra Park,” he added. Meanwhile Dowding said: “Regan was promoted to the ATC’s Racing Manager due to the departure of Kevin Smith to the HRNZ Handicapping Role. “Regan has been an amazing support to Kevin and has picked up the racing and industry dynamic extremely well. He brings a vast experience in digital marketing and promotion coupled with his passion for sports administration and in particular Harness Racing. “We know Regan is going to do an outstanding job for us and we thank Kevin for having been a great mentor.” Duane Ranger

Alexandra Park is celebrating Chinese New Year 2017 with a dedicated harness racing night on Friday, 10 February. “Alexandra Park has been the home of the Auckland Trotting Club since 1890 and Chinese Aucklanders are a bit part of our story. Hence we’ve decided to host a special evening showcasing traditional entertainment and a delicious all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet dinner,” says Joel Reichardt, Sales & Marketing Manager at Alexandra Park. He says tickets are selling fast for the plentiful Chinese-themed hospitality which will take place from 5.30pm at Alexandra Park’s premier 5th floor function venue, Top of the Park. As well as the entertainment and sumptuous buffet, attendees will also enjoy an outstanding view of all the exciting harness racing action under lights below. Top of the Park will be beautifully themed and decorated in celebration of the Year of the Rooster. Dining packages are just $65pp for the buffet only, and $99 for the all-inclusive beverage package. To secure tickets phone (09) 630-5660 or visit “This is set to be a fantastic evening so we’re really encouraging people to get their colleagues, family and friends together and come along. “Alexandra Park has long been known for having the best Chinese restaurant in Auckland, Grand Park. Now our own first-class chefs have designed a Chinese buffet menu which is not only comprehensive but will be packed with delicious flavours and modern twists. “We get great reviews about our food and we’re expecting exceptional feedback on our Chinese New Year offering. February 10 is not only set to be a fun night, but we’re also offering great value. Given the success of the ticket sales so far, I suspect we’ll be doing it all again next year,” says Mr Reichardt. Alexandra Park is set to roll out other internationally-themed evenings throughout the year, and on every race night general admission, car-parking and race books are free. The 2017 Oaks & Derby Festival is set for 3 and 10 March.

Dennis Dunford would love to start his millionaire pacer Have Faith In Me in his home-town Cup on New Year’s Eve, but more than anything he wants a healthy horse first. And even though Dunford has all but given up hope on his pride and joy starting in the $250,000 Auckland Cup, there is a minuscule of hope that vets in the Waikato can get to the bottom of his problems and he could still by some miracle line up. “Vets in Canterbury have tried everything and he is now in Matamata where he is expected to be having a complete and thorough dye scan throughout his body starting yesterday (Monday) at 9.30am. “It will be a very extensive procedure. I’m just hoping they find something because he hasn’t been right this season. We have gone from hero to zero haven't we?” Dunford said. Dunford owns the 5-year-old Bettor’s Delight – Scuse Me gelding with his son Mark. They had their greatest racing joy on December 31 last year when Have Faith In me proved too smart for Hughie Green and Smolda in the 2015 Auckland Cup. “All we can do is hope that the vets up here find something. Something is definitely troubling him. They originally thought he might have had kidney stones. “He had tests for that two weeks ago but the vets could only view one kidney because the imaging on the left one was blocked by a moving colon,” said Dunford who is a real estate agent in Auckland. He said he had been told that a Prebbleton veterinarian had noticed that the gelding had been favouring his back leg. “That might be a reason why he jumped out of his gear during Cup Week, but at this stage no-one really knows,” Dunford said. “I think it is very unlikely now that he would start in the Cup. We want what’s best for the horse but we are always hopeful,” he added Meanwhile co-trainer Mark Purdon confirmed that Have Faith In me would under-go an extensive 48-hour examination. “To be honest the Auckland Cup does look unlikely now. We decided to move him to Matamata for a further stage in investigating what is troubling him. “There has been quite a thorough investigation in Canterbury by people who know what they are doing but they have not found anything significant. It was thought by everyone concerned that concentrating on a bone scan would be now worthwhile and the horse deserves that we do all we can to find out the cause of the problem” Purdon said. He said Noel Power (Hamilton Veterinary Services) was a vet of “wide experience” in several countries and Purdon said he had great faith in his work. “The next stage will be with Noel. It involves using a dye to isolate any bone problems and other irregularities. We are hoping it will help us solve the problem,” Purdon said. Have Faith In Me opened up a $3.80 favourite for the Auckland Cup before being withdrawn from the betting. The gifted bay has won 14 of his 26 starts and placed in five others for $1,407,449. Duane Ranger

Jeremy Young could finally step out of Mark Purdon’s shadow on New Year’s Eve, and if he does he will realise a lifetime dream for both himself and his late mentor and friend Bryan Newberry. “I rode on the coat tails of Mark for many years when I worked for him. I tasted Group One victory on many occasions thanks to him and it felt great. “Now I just want to have a taste of what it's like to have a Group One starter in my name. It's always been a dream to line a horse in an Auckland Cup or New Zealand Cup, and if it does happen I will be there to give the others a fright. “If we are good enough to get in my fella can definitely upset a few,” Young said. The Franklin trainer was referring to Brydon Ideal’s nomination for the Group One $250,000 Trillian Trust Auckland Cup at Alexandra Park on December 31. Young said it would be an absolute honour to have Newberry’s yellow and purple colours line up in a Cup. “I know Bryan has had some nice horses in his time including open class pacers Colonel Brydon, Brydon Delight and Rum Brydon, but this would be special to have Brydon Ideal line up in the big race. “He was the last horse that Bryan had anything to do with. He enjoyed watching him race. It would be an honour for Bryan’s horse to make the final 15,” stressed Young who works a team of about 10 at Pukekohe. Newberry passed away on April 20 of this year. Young trained five winners for him in his final season – the last of them being Brydon Ideal when he won a C3 to C7 pace at Alexandra Park on April 15. Newberry owned and bred the American Ideal gelding. “The biggest thrill I got with Auckland Reactor was when Mark (Purdon) and I took him up close and personal to his fans, but I can honestly say that winning any race for Bryan was right up there with that Auckland Reactor experience simply because it made Bryan so happy – and he deserved to be happy in his final years,” Young said. Auckland Reactor won the 2009 edition of the great race and Young remembers the great thrill he got when he was ‘Reactor’s’ strapper. “They were great times I will never ever forget. I travelled all over with the champion and I’m grateful for my years with Mark. I learnt so much. “But now is the time for me to come out of his shadow and have my own Group One starter. Brydon Ideal is eight now and this will be his last chance,” Young said. “If he doesn’t line up this year I don’t think he ever will,” He added. Brydon Ideal was one of 26 nominations for the Auckland Cup on December 31 when the nominations were released last Friday. “He’s got to make the field yet but I couldn’t be more pleased with his first-up third for four months at Alexandra Park last Friday (November 26). “For him to go 2:40.6 after just one trial gives me a lot of confidence. Sure he will be an outsider if he makes the field but the further they go the better it will suit him. All he needs is a hot pace,” said Young. The 43-year-old Franklin horseman said he would not be frightened off by the big guns. “I know some of Mark and Natalie (Rasmussen’s) horses are absolute freaks but there’s no point in lining up against them if you are going to be scared off. “If I make the field I’m going into the race to at least place. If you go in being beaten that’s what will happen. Upsets can occur in racing and my fella won’t be outclassed as much as what the tote will say,” Young said. "He's an underrated stayer," he added. He said he would continue to campaign Brydon Ideal throughout December with the hope of making the final Auckland Cup field. “I’ll be blown away if he makes it. Hopefully it will be new direction in my career. I started with just American Empress when I went out on my own. “And she has now qualified for the Group One ($150,00 Alabar) Sires Stakes 3YO Fillies Final. That’s so satisfying, and to have two horses line up in Group One races on New Year’s Eve would be unbelievable,” Young said Duane Ranger

1 to 16 of 32