A great night of summer racing with plenty of atmosphere promises to entertain racegoers attending Cambridge Raceway’s January 11 meeting next year, which will mark the centenary of the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Harness Incorporated racing club.
Established in 1919, the club has become an integral part of the Cambridge community. Not only has it become the epicenter for racing in the region, its facilities have also been widely utilised, including as a training camp for the New Zealand military during World War II.
To mark the milestone, the club plans to celebrate in style with the night taking on a 1920’s Great Gatsby and Peaky Blinders theme and racegoers are encouraged to dress-up accordingly.
“We want to make a really big night of the centenary meeting,” Cambridge Raceway chief executive Dave Branch said.
“It’s all going to be dress-up, the whole place will be decked out in a 1920’s theme.
“We want to create a great atmosphere and pack the grass verge out along the front of the grandstand with hospitality, the Skyline Lounge will also be open, the Alf Walsh Lounge will take on a speakeasy vibe for the night and we will also have our Colts and Fillies Club to entertain the children.
“We’re not only celebrating racing at Cambridge but also the past 100 years of the Cambridge township and we’re involving the Cambridge Community in the promotions and the race night.
“There will be a 1920s themed window dressing competition in the lead up to the event.”
The night will also offer a great card of racing, including the Gr.2 Waikato Flying Mile (1609m) and the Gr.3 Cambridge Trotters Flying Stakes (1700m), which have been specifically moved to mark the celebration.
“Traditionally they have been on that earlier January meeting, but this will space it out a bit more from the Auckland (new year’s eve) meeting, so hopefully we will get a few of the better horses from the Auckland Cup (Gr.1, 3200m),” Branch said.
The Waikato Flying Mile has been a key race for the club, with its inaugural running in 1966, and plenty of quality graduates have gone on to perform at elite level.
“It’s always a race that has brought the crowds,” Branch said. “I remember Christian Cullen when he won the race, and going through the past winners it’s a pretty impressive roll of honour.”
Other notable winners include champion pacers Young Quinn, Luxury Liner and Christopher Vance, while recent winners include race record holder Adore Me (1.51.6) and current world-beater Lazarus.
Branch said there has been many highlights for the club in its 100 years, including the running of the Harness Jewels every second year since its inception, but the construction of the grandstand in the 1970s has been the club’s biggest achievement.
“The Jewels has definitely been a highlight, but building the grandstand has been the biggest highlight for the club,” Branch said.
“The Jewels this year has been the biggest highlight for myself as chief executive of the club and also retaining it for 2020. There has been a lot of learning from this year’s event, so we’re excited to see what we can offer in 2020.
“We have got a fairly new team at the raceway and everybody is keen and wanting to move the place forward, which is fantastic.”
The gates to Cambridge Raceway will open at 5pm on January 11, with racegoers encouraged to dress-up for the 1920’s theme.
For more information visit: cambridgeraceway.co.nz – Cambridge Raceway