The Group 3 Cambridge Stud Northland Breeders’ Stakes is scheduled for August 21st, some three weeks earlier than in previous seasons. (Trish Dunell photo shows Catalyst winning in 2019.)
Following the variations in race dates that were introduced last year under Covid restrictions, and will be continued this year, the Club’s premium race meeting is now scheduled in late August, Saturday 21st and precedes the Hawkes Bay Carnival by three weeks.
With such an early start it is important to have a number of suitable lead-up races at the Ruakaka racecourse so that the young horses can transition from late two-year-olds to early three-year-olds. In support of the race NZTR has programmed suitable set weights and penalties races on July 3rd, July 17th, and August 7th.
With NZTR announcements due late next week, once the TAB has confirmed its increase in funding, everyone is eagerly awaiting how the monies will be proportioned across the demands for prize money, lower costs of entry to race, NZTR projects like alignment with Racing Australia systems, Club funding, infrastructure spending on tracks and facilities and compliance costs. Until then the value of the prize money for races from August 1 is still an unknown.
The Group 3 Cambridge Stud Northland Breeders’ Stakes has unearthed many top-flight youngsters that have gone on and proven their class, hence, why the race had been upgraded from Listed to Group 3 in recent years. Melt and Prom Queen are two fillies that had considerable success and the winning colts El Roca, Sacred Falls and Vespa are now passing on their quality to their winning progeny.
The past winners El Roca and Vespa may have two runners in the race going on the two-year-old race at Ellerslie on the long weekend when Flash Mary (El Roca) and Over The Moon (Vespa) finished first and third.
The early start in the season, when held at Te Rapa last year in the first week of September, did not deter quality runners as proven by Need I Say More who won the Northland Breeders Stakes, and then starred over the rest of the year.