Thoroughbred racing will resume earlier than anticipated with the Counties Racing Club hosting a meeting on Saturday 20 June. New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) announced the move on Thursday based on feedback from trainers who have indicated they had horses ready to return to the track sooner than the planned resumption in early July.
“We are delighted we can resume earlier than originally expected,” NZTR chief executive Bernard Saundry said. “Our first race meetings since lockdown will be held with owners being able to attend and, with the expectation that the country may soon move to level one, it might be that full crowds will be able to be on course from the outset.”
The meeting scheduled to Counties is an addition to the original calendar and will carry the same $15,000 stakes across the board, with free nomination and acceptance for all starters and payment back to 14th place in each race. “RITA and the code have worked together to make this earlier start possible,” Saundry said.
The Canterbury Jockey Club meeting originally programmed for Friday 3 July, will move to Saturday 27 June. Racing in the Central Districts will get underway, as planned, at Awapuni on Saturday 4 July, which will also see the second Northern meeting of the resumption period at Te Rapa.
“As we build up to this earlier return to racing NZTR would like to thank all industry participants – our clubs, owners, trainers, jockeys, trackwork riders and stablehands – for doing what was required during lockdown,” Saundry said.
“The industry also worked together to ensure that protocols were followed when horses returned to their respective training facilities. “Trials at Foxton today will be the first of six sets of official trials held prior to the new resumption date so we are now counting the days until racing’s return on 20 June.”