A group of Waikato trotting enthusiasts have been rewarded for their innovation, with the race they established this year, the Waikato Trotting Breeders’ Stakes (2700m), given Group Three status.
The race was the brainchild of Cambridge Raceway board member Ken McGrath and his partner Melanie Barker, who were supported in the new venture by a group of local trotting enthusiasts.
“Melanie, my partner, and I breed mainly trotters. We love the trotting gait,” McGrath said.
“The trotting horse has been treated like the second cousin to the pacer and there has been a lack of good races for them, particularly the mares.
“We have put a lot of money into sponsorship over the years and we thought let’s take some of that sponsorship money and create a new race.
“We approached a few of the local trotting enthusiasts that we know and they all jumped onboard and we have a new Group Three race now.
“We are absolutely rapt. It is something that was indicated to us when we got it off the ground that Harness Racing New Zealand would look at making it a Group race.
“It is very rewarding and we are thankful to Harness Racing New Zealand for giving us the Group Three status.”
While given Group Three status, McGrath said the funding for the $30,000 race remained the responsibility of the Waikato group.
“With all the changes and funding issues happening they (HRNZ) decided that it wasn’t in the budget,” he said.
“We decided that we wanted it to still go ahead and we have funded it again.
“It will be hugely beneficial to the industry and especially the breeders.”
McGrath said he was pleased with the support the inaugural race received earlier this year when it was won by the Robert Dunn-trained Pretty Majestic.
“The inaugural race wasn’t a Group race but it was great to see trainers support it and we had some good horses turn up and we are hoping that will happen again next year,” McGrath said.
McGrath contested the race as the breeder-owner of the fourth-placed Molly Bones and he is hoping she can go three better on Waitangi Day next year where Cambridge Raceway will host the flagship event of the Cambridge Horse Festival.
“Molly Bones is back in work now and will be targeted towards the race,” McGrath said.
“She is lightly raced and has got a huge amount of ability. She ran a good second in a Group race at Auckland last season and I am looking forward to the future with her.” – Cambridge Raceway