Horse Racing in New Zealand has a long and rich history, including having the worlds very first Totalisator machine installed back in 1919!
Today there are nearly 400 race meetings a year at over fifty racecourses across the country, and at TRAC we host just over 40 of those meetings at our five venues across the Bay Of Plenty, Waikato and Coromandel.
To the average watcher each race and raceday may look pretty similar, however there are some significant differences. Meetings can range from high profile racedays, such as Te Arohas Breeders Stakes Day and Bayley International Raceday in Tauranga which is renowned for its social scene and fashion as much as its top class racing, to small country meetings which are very community focused and great fun but the racing is often of a lot lower standard. But while the racing may be of a 'lower standard', that doesn't mean the day out is any less enjoyable!
Each race is classified and categorised based on a number of factors. These are the main types of races we see in New Zealand...
• Group - These are the very top echelon of races which are divided into Group 1 (the very best races including the Classics), Group 2 (just below championship standard) and Group 3 (often attracting quality horses, many of which are trials for Group 1 and 2 races).
• Listed - Just below Group races, these are designed to identify racehorses of superior merit but below Group Standard.
• Handicap - A race in which the weight each horse is to carry is individually allotted by the official NZTR handicapper who adjusts the weights according to past performance - the goal being to give all horses in a raced a theoretically equal chance of winning. Handicap races typically have a larger number of runners than Group or Listed races and often the barrier draw (what side of the track it starts from) can make a difference to the horse's chances.
• Maiden - A race for horses who have not yet won a race. A racehorse can earn a very reasonable living for its connections and still remain a maiden, racking up plenty of place prizemoney.
Races in New Zealand vary in distance, and depending on a horse's breeding it is suited to one type of distance over another. One of the key signs of a champion racehorse is one that can win over a wide range of distances.
The main categories of distance are Sprints (1000 - 1500m) Mile (1600m) Middle Distance (1800m - 2400m) Staying (over 2400m).
Whilst far less prominent than Flat racing, Jump racing also takes place in New Zealand with many racecourses also featuring a track for Steeplechasing (over large brush fences) and Hurdling (over smaller batton hurdle fences). Jump racing generally takes place during the winter months from March to early November.
*source info - nzracing.co.nz