Racing at Avondale has been handed a lifeline for next season in an unexpected turnaround.

The embattled Auckland track is one of several around the country to be given a reprieve after initially not being allocated racing dates for next season, with others including harness racing in the Central Districts, Timaru and at Forbury Park in Dunedin.

All those tracks will now have racing after RITA's dates committee released the final calendar for next season.

Those tracks were all deemed surplus to needs in the first draft of the calendar but either through submissions, threats of legal action or for the betterment of ongoing negotiations will now race next term.


But there will be caveats.

Avondale have secured five dates but any future licences are conditional on a review of thoroughbred racing in the Auckland region being completed.

That means Avondale will have to show it is at least willing to work with Ellerslie and Pukekohe for the best outcome for racing in the region, something which hasn't always been the case.

After being threatened with closure so often the last two decades, Avondale's siege mentality is somewhat understandable and the Weekend Herald understands the three clubs are at least now talking.

What comes of those discussions and is deemed to be the best use of their combined three venues remains to be seen but at least by setting a date for the review to be completed by the New Year, the RITA dates committee have indicated unless some agreement can be reached Avondale likely won't be getting dates the season after next.

Although the Avondale decisions had been rumoured for weeks, Forbury Park getting 10 dates surprised even Harness Racing New Zealand bosses, who did not seek dates for the club in their official submission.

Manawatu being retained as a harness racing venue at least means harness racing doesn't disappear in the North Island south of Cambridge.

But they will have fewer dates and even some mini meetings of just four races run in conjunction with either thoroughbred (Otaki and Tauherenikau) or greyhound meetings in Palmerston North.