Whangarei Racing Club looks to big winter season at Ruakaka
Thoroughbred racing returns to Ruakaka racecourse on Wednesday May 16 for the Lion Red Pubs & Clubs Punters Challenge. The event is the traditional commencement of the winter season for the Club.
Teams have already nominated across the region from the Homestead Sports Bar and Bistro in Kerikeri in the north to the Waipu Hotel in the south. It looks like being a very competitive challenge.
Last year’s winning team was from the Kensington Tavern and they have lined up three teams to defend their mantle. It is anticipated that between 15 and 18 teams will compete on the day.
The rain since mid-January has been very favourable for the Club with generating robust growth on both turf tracks with its sandy base continuing to prove it is NZs best winter going.
Racing will commence without the presence of key stakeholders Donna Logan and Peter Woods. Logan Racing still has over 60 horses in work with Chris Gibb as Donna is establishing a new stable in Singapore.
Despite only having three runners in Singapore Logan Racing has already won with Green Star and should quickly establish a successful operation at the Kranji track. No doubt there will be considerable movement of horses between the stables as young horses will be brought or bred in NZ, educated and trialled at Ruakaka and then decisions made about their future racing options.
In conjunction with the McKee family and the owners of Sunline, the Club will name the bar over looking the parade ring as the “Sunline Bar” to recognise the champion mare and also the long support of the McKee training team over many years.
Sunline won her only start at Ruakaka twenty years ago on July 9 1998. The great mare then went on to win over $14 million from 32 wins in Australia and Hong Kong, as well as NZ.
Local businesses are encouraged to participate in the naming rights draw for the Bream Bay Business Race Day in the new season. In its third-year, businesses that operate or service the area sponsor an invitation to be in the draw for one of the eight race names on the day. The two feature races, the open class Bream Bay Cup and Bowl are each worth $35,000 in stakes money.
Last year the two features were Lawson Cartage Bream Bay Cup won by Amarula and the Bream Bay Print Bowl won by Fully Funded. The Bream Bay Business Race Day has an excellent race programme with over $210,000 in prize money on offer for the meeting on Saturday 16 June.
The opening meetings will be followed by two Saturday’s; June 30 and July 14, both continuing the strong local flavours. The Northpine Waipu Cup on June 30 has now become entrenched on the racing calendar and involves a bit of fun off the track as patrons adopt the colours, tartans, music, dancing and scarves celebrating the Scottish heritage of Waipu.
And in what is a unique occurrence these days, the same 1929 perpetual cup known as the ITM Whangarei Gold Cup is presented each year to the winner of the feature cup on the Club’s calendar. Winning of the Cup has been dominated by local trainers, none more than the Stevenson family who are based at Uretiti.
Good crowds of all ages, along with supportive sponsors, head to the popular Ruakaka race meetings.