Classic races to remain at Riccarton

Catalyst
Catalyst led by owner Dick Karreman returning to scale after winning last year’s Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton Photo: (Race Images CHCH)

The Board of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) have announced that the 1000 and 2000 Guineas would remain at Riccarton for the 2020-21 racing season. Considerable work was undertaken with stakeholders while the country was under lockdown, on a proposed calendar for the early part of the 2020-21 racing season. At the time, there was no indication as to how long travel restrictions might last or the potential impact of Covid-19 on the country.

A proposal to relocate the Guineas races, both run at Group 1 level at a mile, to the North Island for the upcoming season was made based on the information available at that time. This was reflected in the Draft Calendar currently out for consultation. “Subsequent events with the loosening of restrictions and the hope that, by the time we resume racing, we will be operating under alert level 1, led the Board to decide to leave the races at Riccarton,” NZTR chief executive Bernard Saundry said.

While the COVID-19 alert level had a major impact on the initial proposal, there was also concern regarding the costs imposed on owners to travel their horses to the South Island given the majority of runners in the Guineas races historically come from the North Island. “The Canterbury Jockey Club has recognised this also and will be offering subsidies for those travelling South for the Group 1 events,” Saundry said.

Submissions regarding the Draft Calendar for the 2020-21 racing season close on 15 June.