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Centenary meeting attracts superstar line-up

Turn It Up will contest the Waikato Flying Mile on Friday
Turn It Up will contest the Waikato Flying Mile on Friday

There will be no shortage of fire power at Cambridge Raceway’s centenary meeting on Friday evening, with the milestone event attracting the cream of New Zealand harness racing to the Waikato venue.

Cambridge Raceway chief executive Dave Branch elected to shift both the Gr.3 Harcourts (Te Awamutu) Cambridge Trotters Flying Stakes (1700m) and Gr.2 McMillans Equine Feeds Waikato Flying Mile (1609m) to the Centenary meeting, and that move looks to have paid dividends, with the meeting attracting some of the best harness racing talent in New Zealand.

“Traditionally they have been on that earlier January meeting, but we spaced it out a bit more from the Auckland (New Year’s Eve) meeting in the hope of attracting a few of the better horses from the Auckland Cup (Gr.1, 3200m),” Branch said.

“The Waikato Flying Mile has always been a race that has brought the crowds. I remember Christian Cullen when he won the race and going through the past winners it’s a pretty impressive roll of honour.

“We’re excited to have another quality line-up in the feature race on Friday night.”

Leading the charge are New Zealand’s leading trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, who will line-up two of New Zealand’s most exciting pacers in the Waikato Flying Mile.

They are last year’s Gr.1 New Zealand Cup (3200m) winner Thefixer, who will have his first start since his victory in the two-mile feature in November, and last-start Auckland Cup winner Turn It Up.

The Rolleston training partnership have had a great association with the race, winning it in 2017 with world-beating pacer Lazarus and again in 2015 with Adore Me, who set a race and New Zealand record with her winning time of 1.51.6.

One person that will be looking to spoil Purdon’s party is his brother-in-law, legendary driver Tony Herlihy, who will pilot last year’s race winner Star Galleria.

The Steven Reid-trained runner looks a leading chance after his last-start runner-up performance behind Turn It Up in the Auckland Cup last week and the son of Art Major will be aiming to turn the tables on his opponent on Friday.

Members of the thoroughbred community will have a horse to barrack for in the Flying Mile, with Group One winner Turn It Up being part-owned by Hall of Fame thoroughbred trainer Jim Gibbs.

“Jim is a legend of racing and hopefully the local community can get in behind him and come along to Cambridge Raceway on Friday to cheer him on,” Branch said. 

“We are expecting a big crowd and a great atmosphere, it will be a great night of racing.”

The gates to Cambridge Raceway will open at 5pm on January 11, with racegoers encouraged to dress-up for the 1920’s themed event.

Entertainment on the night will include the Croquet Club, the Colts and Fillies club with free activities for children, a pop-up photo booth, a speakeasy themed bar and band, and a Fashions on the Fields competition with five categories and an overall winner.

For more information visit: www.cambridgeraceway.co.nz/page/centenary   – Cambridge Raceway



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