Waipukurau Jockey Club has agreed to transfer its racing to the Hastings racecourse for the coming season and will have a stand-alone meeting there on Sunday, November 8.
Along with the Wairoa Racing Club and the Poverty Bay Turf Club in Gisborne, Waipukurau was among several New Zealand gallops venues that were not granted a license to race for the 2020/21 racing season.
Waipukurau Jockey Club president Graeme Smith said his committee, while disappointed to have lost the license to race at Waipukurau, felt they owed their members a race meeting and so have decided, at this stage, to race at Hastings for one year.
Smith said this week the Waipukurau Jockey Club made three submissions to New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing and has not given up hope of racing returning to the Waipukurau track in the future but that more time and information is needed, in a constantly changing environment, before the club can confirm its future plans.
"The committee is disappointed we cannot race at Waipukurau as we have no debt, money in the bank, an irrigated track and a building plan going forward approved by New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing," Smith said.
"The Waipukurau Jockey Club is well supported by our members, owners, trainers and the community and we hope this continues.
"However, going forward into the new season it will be racing at Hastings for our club and we will do the best to make it a good day's racing, with the Waipukurau Cup being the main race."
Hawke's Bay Racing chief executive Darin Balcombe said he was delighted the Waipukurau club had made the decision to race at Hastings on November 8 and looks forward to making it a special annual race day for the club and its members.
The Waipukurau Jockey Club has been racing on its home track for more than 160 years.
In recent times the club has staged two meetings a year, a Christmas meeting in early December and the Waipukurau Cup meeting in March. Members pay an annual subscription of $35.
Mixed day for Hastings stable
The Hastings training combination of Paul Nelson and Corrina McDougal had a day of mixed fortunes at Te Rapa last Saturday.
The stable produced Revolution for a resounding win in the Restricted Open Hurdle (2800m) but had the misfortune to have stablemate Wagner put down after he broke his pelvis in the previous race and another of their runners, Perry Mason, was pulled up during the feature steeplechase.
Wagner, formerly trained by Tarissa Mitchell at Cambridge, was the winner of three races on the flat. The 7-year-old Civics gelding was having only his second start for the Nelson/McDougal stable after finishing second in his hurdle debut last year.
Nelson, when spoken to this week, was mystified as to how badly Perry Mason performed in the main steeplechase, hinting that the horse may have not done quite as much work as necessary going into the race.
"He'll get that corrected before he has his next start," Nelson said.
On a brighter note, Nelson was thrilled that Revolution managed to put it all together for strong win in the main hurdle race on the card.
The 9-year-old grey gelding led out and then took a trail behind stablemate Rocky in the early stages.
Jockey Aaron Kuru let him run to the lead with just under a round to go and they were never headed from then on, crossing the line a length clear of second-placed Tommyra, with 11 lengths back to third-placed Delegate.
"I said before the race that if the right horse turned up he would be hard to beat," Nelson said, adding that Revolution has beaten himself on occasions by being too keen in his races.
"He pulled that hard at the Waverley Point-To-Point last month that there was just no stopping him and when he fell at Wanganui in his last hurdle race last year it was because he was just going too hard in front."
Kuru is said to have the best hands in the business among the ranks of hurdle jockeys and he was able to keep Revolution under a good hold throughout last Saturday's race.
"It's hard for a jumps jockey to ride a horse like him (Revolution) because they have to let their head go at every jump and then try to get them to come back to them on the other side and Aaron did it perfectly," Nelson added.
Nelson said Revolution has come through that win well and he and McDougal are now contemplating starting the horse in the $50,000 Waikato Hurdles (3200m) on August 8.
"We have also got No Change aimed for that race so I'm not sure, at this stage, whether we will line them both up. There are still plenty of other good jumping races coming up."
Revolution is owned by Nelson and his wife Carol and they bred him out of the Gold Brose mare Kettle Hill.
The grey won two races on the flat before reverting to jumping and has now had six hurdle starts for two wins and a third.
Meanwhile Peso, also owned by the Nelsons, has been temporarily transferred to the Australian stable of successful jumps jockey Richard Cully at Ballarat.
The Colombia 8-year-old, who is the winner of seven races on the flat and was runner-up in the Group 1 Livamol Classic (2100m) at Hastings last October, crossed the Tasman last month and had his first start from his new base when finishing a distant last over 1700m at Caulfield on July 11.
"He was found to be suffering from a minor virus after that race but seems to be almost over it now," Nelson said.
"We knew he wasn't right because the run just wasn't like him. He always tries so hard.
"We sent him over there because there are plenty of good staying races on the flat for horses like him. It is not intended to jump him over there but there is a chance he might."
Big entries expected for HB races
Hawke's Bay Racing could have as many as 12 races when it stages an extra race day next Wednesday, July 29, on the Hastings track.
Initially a 10-race programme was scheduled but such is the number of horses available it is envisaged nominations will be huge, especially if the track provides reasonably good winter footing.
All races will be $15,000 flat events and there will be no nomination or acceptance fees charged to owners.
There will be free admission and free access to the Members Stand.
There will be 2-year-old races over 800m, maidens at 1400, 1650 and 2100m and Rating 65 races at 1300m, 1650m and 2100m.
Stakes levels unchanged
New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing has announced stakes levels for the 2020/21 racing season will return to those in the 2019/20 season pre-Covid.
"It is our intention that stakes levels will remain consistent with the pre-Covid levels, however, we need to be aware that we continue to operate in an uncertain environment," NZTR chief executive Bernard Saundry said.
"As an industry we need to be cognisant of the continuing uncertainties that Covid-19 has brought about and be nimble enough to make adjustments if required.
"As a code we will work closely with the TAB to address any variations that may occur during the upcoming season. At the same time though, we need to provide encouragement for our owners, and we will be continuing with two initiatives introduced during our return to racing period in the new season."
NZTR introduced payment back to 14th place and no nomination or acceptance fees for those horses that have started since the return of New Zealand gallops racing, as an acknowledgement of the difficult times experienced by owners during the lockdown period. Both will continue from August 1.
On the programming front, August and September will see the return of maiden, 3-year-old and Rating 65 races.
Programmes will still include Open Entry races to maximise opportunities for horses, however this will be reviewed throughout that period.