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Racing Industry Transition Agency Releases Final 2020/21 Racing Calendar. Seven meetings for Ruakaka - one in 2020 and six in 2021.
Bill Colgan
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Racing Industry Transition Agency Releases Final 2020/21 Racing Calendar. Seven meetings for Ruakaka - one in 2020 and six in 2021.

RITA has made significant changes to its draft 2020/21 racing calendar by re-instating dates for Avondale (5), Forbury Park Trotting Club (10) and a raft of other harness dates such as Manawatu, Gore, Tauherenikau, Otaki, Roxburgh, Blenheim, Timaru, Marlborough and West Coast.

Race Meeting Allocation for Ruakaka Racecourse (full calendar below as PDF)

Wednesday 26th August 2020 - Thursday 7th Janaury 2021 - Wednesday 14th April & 5th May.
Saturdays 19th June; 3rd & 17th July.

The Club is very disappointed not to be allocated a meeting that could facilitate the successful event of the last two years -" Christmas at the Races" but pleased to see a return to monthly racing during the autumn and winter of 2021.

With sixty five horses in work at the track the local owners and trainers will be very pleased to see the August 26th mid-week meeting and the return of dates for Avondale, although having the first one (2nd September) only a week after Ruakaka will have them baffled.

RITA Communication To Racing Clubs 3rd July 2020.

The racing calendar for the 2020/21 season has been approved by the Racing Industry Transition Agency Dates Committee following consultation with the three racing codes, all racing clubs and recognised industry organisations (RIOs). 

The Committee is grateful for the constructive and comprehensive feedback received during the consultation process.

In approving the calendar, the Committee recognised the unprecedented pressure on the industry arising from the impact and continued uncertainty of COVID-19 and a determination to maximise revenue and reduce costs across the industry that are in the best interest of all of racing.

The key changes in the final calendar are:

  • Conditional reintroduction of five dates to Avondale Jockey Club and ten dates for the Forbury Park TC
  • Reintroduction of harness dates at Manawatu Raceway, Gore, Tauherenikau, Otaki, Roxburgh, Blenheim and Timaru venues
  • Venues that were scheduled in the draft to have no racing but now will are; Avondale, Forbury, Blenheim and Roxburgh
  • Marlborough (January) and West Coast (March) Harness dates reinstated
  • Increased dual code meetings in Central Districts, Otago and Southland regions
  • Increased number of Thoroughbred meetings from 273 to 278 and Harness meetings from 246 to 257 (including dual meetings). Greyhound meetings increased from 459 to 478 with new six race programs at both Forbury and Ascot Park.

In finalising the calendar, the Dates Committee recognised the development of regional plans for domestic racing would not only provide certainty for clubs and venues, but also help strengthen the viability of the industry in New Zealand’s regions. The Committee is supportive of proposals for clubs and codes to collaborate and develop plans for the future conduct of racing at a regional level. 

Licences allocated to the Avondale JC and Forbury Park TC are conditional on regional reviews of racing in the Auckland and Dunedin districts being completed by 31 December 2020.  This will allow the recommended outcomes of these reviews to be considered prior to the allocation of dates for the 21/22 season. RITA will also engage with the codes to ensure greater alignment with their future venue plans, including encouraging regional reviews to be undertaken in the Tasman, Mid Canterbury to North Otago and Southland regions. 

The calendar is also based on delivery racing in an efficient manner to maximise returns to the industry. Changes to the draft calendar allow for increased dual code race meetings, particularly with Central Districts harness and Otago/Southland greyhound meetings.

This approach will see cohesive regional strategies determined for the industry’s future venue footprint. Engagement with the industry through the dates consultation process has highlighted an appreciation of the need for change, however feedback was consistent on the desire for this to be addressed in a collaborative manner at a regional level.

While the Committee agrees with the widely held view the number of racing venues in New Zealand is unsustainable, in determining the racing dates for 2020/21, it has made no determination on the future of venues. This is a matter for clubs and racing codes and is now subject to a clear legislative process as part of the Racing Industry Act 2020 and aligned with the intent of the new Code-led model established by the Act. 

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