Hawke's Bay's more reliable weather has again been recognised with a decision to run feature jumping events, the Wellington Steeplechase and Wellington Hurdles, in Hastings on Thursday.
The move follows the cancellation of racing at Trentham on Saturday because of the storm and flooding which engulfed Wellington and much of the rest of the central and western regions.
It's a repeat of circumstances that saw the two big races run at Hastings in 2017 when the conditions ruled out running them on the Trentham track.
Hawke's Bay Racing already had a race day scheduled for Thursday, as it had when the call went out four years ago. Chief executive Darin Balcombe said the two jumps races would be added to the programme, originally to have comprised eight races, without any jumps.
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"We were just about to put them (the hurdles and fences) away until the summer," he said, as the club prepares for its "Stockies" Season Finales race day, a big day out for stock agents and the farming industry, and the last day of the 2020-2021 racing season, which ends on July 31.
With little to no rain expected in Hastings during the week, and a Metservice Thursday forecast of morning cloud and an otherwise fine day with northwesterlies – with temperatures up to 19-20deg – it's possible the number of races could even rise to 11, depending on entries, Balcombe said.
Nominations were to close at midday Monday and Balcombe said the club was considering "splitting" the field for a two-year-olds' race over 800 metres, in which many would be having their first day at the races.
"At this time of the year, trainers are looking for a firmer track," said Balcombe. "That's our point of difference."
There could be as many as 120 horses across all races, a "very good" number for racing "at this time of the year", he said.
As in 2017, the distance for the Steeplechase will remain at 5500 metres and the Hurdles will reduce from 3400m to 3100m. Each has stakes of $75,000, which compares with $50,000 for the Hawke's Bay Steeplechase and Hawke's Bay Hurdles, raced on July 3.
The first race on Thursday was scheduled for 11.13am, but Balcombe said it could be earlier if an extra race is added.