The first of Ruakākā's summer meetings is on tomorrow with the Christmas at the Races seven race programme commencing at 1.50pm.

The $10,000 Corona benchmark 65 would provide an exciting and early Christmas present for local trainer Kim Knight if Sonofabutcher wins again.

A winner two starts ago at Ruakākā, the three-year-old's next run was in much stronger company at Ellerslie.

At Ellerslie, like so many horses having their first start there, this Buffalo Man gelding was more interested in watching the screens and distractions inside the track up the straight than competing.


Back to his home track, closer to his winning distance of 1400 metres and perhaps the wide barrier draw will enable him to settle early and not over race.

Kim Knight is in her eighth year of training a very small team and has only won five races over those years, with Spider being her best horse so far. Is it possible that she could train a double on the day to make it a memorable day?

Kim's other runner, Shelob, for her main stable client in Karen Connell, must also be a distinct chance in the Interislander Summer Festival maiden race over 1600 metres. At her only start, this four-year-old mare by Thewayyouare was a strong finishing fifth at Te Rapa back in mid-November.

On her home track, with less travel and the benefit of raceday experience Shelob could give the trainer a great day, but like her stablemate, Shelob has to contend with a very wide barrier draw.

Tomorrow's race meeting is aligned with a corporate Christmas celebration theme with many businesses booked in functions or in marquees. The Interislander Summer Festival meeting on Saturday, January 4 is the family fun day with many free children's activities.

The planning for the 2020/2021 racing season has commenced with the Racing Industry Transition Agency, which is under the direction of executive chairman Dean McKenzie, releasing the first draft of race dates.

A noticeable change is the allocation of seven meetings, including the traditional opening race meeting of Whangārei Racing Club in May, to a yet to be built synthetic track at Cambridge.

The synthetic track has a purported cost of $12 million, of which the Matamata Club has borrowed $4 million to assist in the financing, and the smallness of the new course means its straight will be only 220 metres in length.


In total, the Whangārei Racing Club will have 10 meetings (down one) and retains the ex-Dargaville Racing Club's November date as they continue to choose not to race at the Ruakākā racecourse.

The new racing bill has had its first reading in Parliament and is now in the committee stage. The Government has maintained its pursuit of the property of race club for the benefit of the racing industry, should the land be longer to be used for racing or commercially sold off.

As the industry downsizes its number of racecourses, the Government - with RITA support - is legislating that the sale of these unwanted assets is to be retained by the racing industry to finance the upgrading of the remaining tracks and buildings.

One of those disenfranchised clubs, Westland Racing Club, that had its racecourse listed as no longer required has taken immediate steps to prevent the racing industry gaining access to its assets by selling its racecourse to the local council.

The choice of action of the various clubs on this matter will test the resolve of the boards and their membership as to their preference and support.

The choice is either to help provide the racing industry with funds to recover and reinvigorate itself or, as is the case of Westland Racing Club, provide the Hokitika community with the benefit of the sale of the assets rather than the other regional race clubs.