Press release courtesy of NZTR
The Great Northern Steeplechase and Great Northern Hurdles will be run at Te Aroha on Sunday, 3 October.
The date and venue were confirmed today, following a meeting between representatives from New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, Auckland Thoroughbred Racing and the NZ Jumping Association.
The other option considered was to hold the two features at Ellerslie a week later.
However, while all parties would have liked Ellerslie to have been the venue, for a final time, there was consensus that the Te Aroha date and venue was the most logical outcome.
It provides certainty for the connections of the horses and their preparation and from a wagering perspective.
A further delay in running the two Northerns – which were originally scheduled for 19 September – also raised horse welfare issues around the spacing of the races and potential track conditions, bearing in mind that most of the steeplechase course at Ellerslie cannot be irrigated.
The uncertainty around Covid-19 Levels for Auckland on 10 October was another factor.
The switch to Te Aroha will mean minor distance changes for the feature races, with the $125,000 Hurdle run over 4200m (originally 4190m) and the Steeplechase over 6300m (originally 6400m).
The maiden hurdle will be run over 3100m and the 0-1-win steeplechase at 3500m, with stake increases applied to both races.
In acknowledgement of the recent disruption to the jumping race pattern, NZTR has doubled the stake for the 0-1-win steeplechase, to $30,000, and increased the maiden hurdle stake from $15,000 to $25,000.