“Aaaaaaand flyyyyying down the outside….”
Oh how we have missed hearing the voice of AP belt this out for racing fans alike over the past six or so weeks! But not to dwell on what we have all missed – time to focus on what lies ahead and to come together to make the next three months a period in history where harness racing shows the world we here to fight and were here to stay for a long time yet!!
On behalf of the ATC, I would like to firstly say how professionally everyone has handled themselves over this very unfortunate Covid-19 period – I hope that each and every one of you & your families are keeping well and looking forward to what will hopefully be a return to the track in around one month’s time!
As many of you will know, RITA has confirmed a makeshift racing calendar to take us through June and July 2020 of which at this stage includes 10 meetings alternating on a weekly basis between Cambridge & Alexandra Park!
Below are the confirmed NI Harness meeting dates HRNZ has been licensed by RITA – (please note that we have been advised by RITA/HRNZ that if horse numbers/turnover are strong through the meetings held at AP during June and early July & in-turn RITA is able to better financially place itself to round out the current racing season, that additional licenses MAY be granted! This is best case scenario and while we will be doing everything in our capabilities to put forward the strongest case to RITA, evidently it will come down to the ability for RITA to fund this and this is obviously something that will only be ascertained as/when racing returns and the financial performance these meetings in June and early July generate and consequently is available for distribution back to the bottom line through stakes)!
ATC – Thursday June 4 & 18
ATC – Wednesday July 1 & 15 & 29
HRW – Sunday May 31
HRW – Thursday June 11 & 25
HRW – Wednesday July 8 & 22
The following information pertains to the level of stakes that the ATC will offer throughout its five already licensed meetings! Please note; this will include a mix of both pacing and trotting races which are to be programmed in an open nominations type environment, that simply put will look to maximise the available horse pool and create competitive racing opportunities for as many horses as possible.
A typical 10 race programme at AP over this period will be made up of approximately the following – the two lowest rated races to be run $7K each, the two highest rating races on the night (one of each a pace & a trot) to run for $12K each & the balance of races at the meeting to be run for $8.5K! Roughly speaking, we are working off an approx. $89K per 10 race meeting total stakes budget – the best part being that this is entirely dedicated to stakes and any funding retained from any given meeting will be re-distributed to the proceeding ATC meeting (where applicable to do so) so further racing opportunities/additionally higher stakes may be made available should the above scenario transpire!
The ATC are currently working in the background with HRNZ on piecing together what the 2020/21 season (August 1 onwards) racing calendar may entail for us! Early tentative discussions have indicated to HRNZ that the ATC has the intentions of being allocated something very similar to the what had previously been confirmed for the 2019/20 season of 39 Fridays and NYE on December 31. RITA is understandably unable to provide us with/indicate a likely make-up of the level of funding for the 20/21 season at this current stage – however once we are able to return to racing and RITA’s revenue stream is able to flow, we will be able to ascertain a more accurate and useful indication of what season 2020/21 will look like for all concerned in the Harness Racing industry!
For now this is all the information available to us and in-turn all we are able to provide to our concerned industry participants and while we acknowledge this isn’t the situation any of us wanted to tackle the second half of 2020 in, we hope this for now can provide some clarity and confidence heading into the foreseeable future that lies ahead!
As soon as any further confirmed information comes to light from RITA and HRNZ, we will be sure to get this out to you all in an efficient & timely manner!
ATC at Franklin Park & AP T&W Calendar May – July 2020
Focusing on what positives we can, one other piece of good news we have all recently received, is the ability to return to training tracks and race preparation and I am sure that this came as welcome news to all!
With the above now already a week completed this means we can now light the torch on the light return of trials and workouts! Please find below the dates that have been drawn up on behalf of the ATC to lead us into our first race meeting back on June 4 and beyond.
- Friday May 15th – Official Qualifiers (RH) & Workouts @ Franklin Park – MIDDAY START
- Friday May 22nd – Official Qualifiers (LH) & Workouts @ Franklin Park – MIDDAY START
- Friday May 29th – Official Qualifiers (RH) & Workouts @ Franklin Park – MIDDAY START
- Thursday June 4th – Official Qualifiers before races @ AP
- Friday June 5th Workouts @ Franklin Park – MIDDAY START
- Friday June 12th Workouts @ Franklin Park – MIDDAY START
- Thursday June 18th – Official Qualifiers before races @ AP
- Friday June 19th Workouts @ Franklin Park – MIDDAY START
- Friday June 26th Workouts @ Franklin Park – MIDDAY START
- Wednesday July 1st – Official Qualifiers before races @ AP
- Friday July 3rd Workouts @ Franklin Park – MIDDAY START
- Friday July 10th Workouts @ Franklin Park – MIDDAY START
- Wednesday July 15th – Official Qualifiers before races @ AP
- Friday July 17th Workouts @ Franklin Park – MIDDAY START
- Friday July 24th Workouts @ Franklin Park – MIDDAY START
- Wednesday July 29th – Official Qualifiers before races @ AP
- Friday July 31st Workouts @ Franklin Park – MIDDAY START
PLEASE NOTE – NOMINATIONS FOR THE ABOVE T&W DATES WILL CLOSE APPROX. MIDDAY ON THE AFTERNOON PRIOR!
THESE CAN BE GIVEN TO RACING MANAGER REGAN ON USING ANY OF THE FOLLOWING METHODS. TXT / EMAIL PREFERRED DURING THIS CURRENT LOCKDOWN PERIOD – ALL NOMINATIONS WILL BE ACKNOWLEDGED BY REPLY
- MOBILE (CALL OR TXT) – 027 249 1205
- EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org
The above will take us through to the end of July and for now is a temporary shift away from the traditional Saturday scheduling of T&W’s! Unfortunately there is no crystal ball solution to how we manage/plan each stage of our return to racing and just want to underline that this by no means signals a shift away from what has previously worked well/by majority being the preferred day for T&W’s!
HOWEVER the reality of where Covid-19 has brought us to in this current day (and subsequently the success of making this ‘return-to-racing’ one that enables harness racing to continue into and beyond the foreseeable future) requires that a responsive and adaptable approach across all facets of this return is what will allow for us to get back on track and re-create a future that resembles somewhat the ‘normality’ of the week-on-week racing & training structure that we have previously all enjoyed!
In saying this, the ATC will ensure that our industry participants are well-informed every step of the way and update everyone concerned with the relevant information required as/when this is available!
Once again, we would like to wish you all the best and thank you all for your support during this time! It has been great to see the industry coming together in such tough times and instead of sitting back & wondering how we have all come to this point, a joint team-like effort has prevailed and all those years & years of knowledge and expertise that we are lucky enough to have at the roots of our industry, has been banded together all in the shared aim of getting back to the track and putting this unfortunate period behind us!
Regan Cotter – Racing Manager Alexandra Park
(On behalf of ATC President Rod Croon & ATC Board)