A second round of jumpouts is planned for the Hastings track this coming Tuesday and the number of horses expected to compete will be nearly as big as the last lot, held on Wednesday of last week.
Fifty-six horses lined up that day to contest 11 heats, over distances ranging from 780m to 1400m. There were 33 raced horses among the contestants but also 23 unraced horses getting ready for the new racing season.
Despite only registered licensed personnel being able to attend the jumpouts under alert level 3 restrictions, there was a positive feel, with trainers sensing there was light at the end of the tunnel after the Covid-19 crisis hit the racing industry three months ago,
The thoroughbred sector has been dealt a heavy blow compared to the other two racing codes, with New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing stating early on that it would not resume gallops racing until July 3.
The timeframe was chosen to give trainers time to get their horses back to race fitness after a country-wide five-week lockdown, which closed racetracks to training.
But that didn't take into account the numerous horses trained on private tracks, farms and beaches which could be worked almost as normal during the lockdown period. Horses prepared from such places would certainly have an advantage over those that have had to wait for training tracks to reopen.
NZTR have had second thoughts on when thoroughbred racing should recommence and are now looking at putting on a meeting at Pukekohe in the last week of this month.
Along with jumpouts being run nationwide, barrier trials are scheduled for Te Rapa on June 9, Ellerslie on June 16 and Te Rapa on June 23 in the north.
Trials were held on the Foxton track on Thursday, with 14 heats run at distances ranging from 850m to 1600m and 85 horses entered. Other trials planned for the Central Districts this month are at Otaki on June 16 and Waverley on June 24.
There are also jumping trials planned for Cambridge on June 18 and a Waverley Point To Point on June 11.
John Bary, who has a 1300m track at his Mutiny Rd property, has been able to get his horses up to a good standard of fitness and that showed when he took out three of the heats at last week's Hastings jumpouts.
Bary saddled up one of the most impressive winners on the day in Spydapus, a three-year-old by Burgundy who bounced straight to the front in a 780m heat and raced right away in the final stages to win by seven lengths, clocking the fastest time over the distance at 46.7s.
Spydapus was an impressive trial winner over 850m at Foxton in March and followed that up that with a debut third over 1000m at Tauherenikau.
Bary described the filly as "a natural runner" and said he will aim her at an 800m race at Wanganui on July 10.
"She had one start for a third before we went into lockdown and has come on well from that. She has plenty of speed so 800m at Wanganui will suit her nicely."
Bary also produced another impressive winner at last week's jumpouts in the unraced Ask Pa. The Ocean Park three-year-old filly took out another of the 780m heats and also recorded a good time of 47.7s.
Ask Pa is out of the Group 2 Waikato Cup (2400m) winner Singing Star and is a half-sister to the Bary-trained Miss Selby, who finished second to Miss Mossman in the 2014 Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham.
"Ask Pa is a lovely, well-related filly who I have a lot of time for," Bary said.
"We've taken her along quietly but she has made good progress and won't be far away from having a start once we get back under way again."
Bary expects to have at up to three runners at the first Central Districts race meeting at Wanganui on July 11, with one of the others being Louboutin, who finished a close second in a 1000m jumpout at Hastings last week.
The Jimmy Choux four-year-old mare won two races on heavy tracks at Wanganui last winter and Bary said he expects her to have another good winter campaign.
The Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen stable could have two or three horses ready to race during the month of July, including Ruie's Crumpet who was one of two winners they produced at last week's Hastings jumpouts.
Ruie's Crumpet won a 780m heat by a length and clocked a good time of 47.4s.
Fellow Hastings trainer Lee Somervell is also likely to have two or three from his stable ready to race in July, while the Paul Nelson and Corrina McDougal stable are likely to have a large contingent of jumpers at the Waverley Point To Point next Thursday as they prepare for when jumps racing recommences at Wanganui on July 10.
Extended terms for RITA directors
Minister for Racing Winston Peters has announced that the terms for the directors of the Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) have been extended to June 30, 2021.
Due to the Covid-19 crisis, the transition period has been extended to ensure the Racing Industry Bill can complete its progress through the House at a time when the current focus on the coronavirus response is reduced.
"We knew from the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis that the racing industry was facing an unparalleled crisis in its history," Peters said.
"The racing industry is seriously underestimated for its important contribution to our regions and our economy and getting the reforms right is pivotal to the economic recovery of all of New Zealand."
This extension will allow the directors to continue contributing to work strengthening the governance and operational settings in the racing industry.
"It is crucial that the directors continue to offer their extensive expertise and experience during this extended transition period to help make the racing industry both more prosperous and sustainable," Peters said.
"In the long term, when we get all the steps correct, there is no reason why racing in this country cannot be a viable, world-class industry."
Each of the directors has extensive industry knowledge and experience. They are Dean McKenzie (Chair), Bill Birnie, Liz Dawson, Kristy McDonald, Anna Stove and Sir Peter Vela.