Auckland Thoroughbred Racing (ATR) has announced that as a result of pattern and scheduling changes, there will be a number of adjustments to the ATR racing season.
These changes sit across the breadth of the season and encompass date, pattern, venue and name changes, with the modifications designed to create a more functional season of racing for all stakeholders.
The modifications are led by a number of changes to both the Christmas and Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup Week carnivals with a poignant moment forming part of the list of announcements.
With the passing of racing and breeding icon Sir Patrick Hogan last season, ATR has announced that in acknowledgement of the immense impact Sir Patrick had on the industry, the Club has selected a race to be renamed in his honour.
The 3YO fillies 2050m race run on New Year’s Day at Pukekohe Park, once known as the Royal Stakes, is now to be known as the Sir Patrick Hogan Stakes in recognition of his significant contribution.
Further changes to the carnivals consist of:
- The Dunstan Horse Feeds Stayers Championship Final, traditionally run on New Year’s Day, has been moved to 26 December (the Boxing Day Races) to better reflect the depth of New Zealand’s staying division. The new date will allow horses to run in both the Dunstan Horse Feeds Stayers Championship Final as well as the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (ex. City of Auckland Cup) six days later.
- Further changes to the race scheduling on Boxing Day will see the Auckland Guineas form part of the Boxing Day Races with the distance reduced to 1400m and will act as an ideal leadup to the newly positioned Levin Classic at Trentham on Saturday, 13 January 2024. As a result, the Uncle Remus Stakes (previously run on Boxing Day) moves to Saturday, 17 February with the distance reduced to 1200m. This race will act as an ideal lead up to the recently promoted Mufhasa Stakes (1400m), now of Group 3 status, on Saturday, 2 March 2024.
- The Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup Week carnival will see both the New Zealand Derby and Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup nomination date shift to Monday, 11 December 2023, a month later than the prior closing date. The new nomination date will enable trainers to be more selective about their nominations especially with respect to the New Zealand Derby.
- The Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup is also moving to handicap conditions. ATR has changed the weight conditions from set weights and penalties to a handicap to provide a far bigger spread of weights and a more competitive contest as a result, which will consequently have a positive impact on wagering.
In addition to the adjustments to ATR’s major carnivals, Waikato Thoroughbred Racing (WTR) and ATR jointly recommended to the New Zealand Pattern Committee (NZPC) a change to the Autumn 2YO pattern which was subsequently approved and will see the following movement which reflects a far more logical spread of 2YO races:
- Saturday, 20 April – 2YO 1200 – Listed, now to be run at Ellerslie Racecourse by ATR (Star Way)
- Saturday, 4 May – 2YO 1400 – Listed, now to be run at Te Rapa Racecourse by WTR (Waikato Equine Veterinary Centre 2YO Stakes)
- Saturday, 25 May – 2YO 1600 – Listed, to be run at Ellerslie Racecourse by ATR (Staphanos By Deep Impact Champagne Stakes)
“The changes to the upcoming season were done to ensure that ATR’s racing calendar remained relevant and reflected the current status of racing in New Zealand,” ATR Executive General Manager – Racing & Operations, Craig Baker said.
“ATR is committed to providing the best possible racing product and the changes announced today support this objective.
“Our thanks to the New Zealand Pattern Committee, Waikato Thoroughbred Racing, and David Smith and his team at Dunstan Horse Feeds for their help and support.”
The Club has also committed to further supporting those at the grassroots of the New Zealand racing industry by offering a $12 lunch voucher to the primary strapper of each runner at ATR racedays.
ATR plans to conduct 20 race meetings over the 2023/24 season from both Pukekohe Park and Ellerslie, with racing at Ellerslie set to return in 2024.