Jewels now has 5YO categories

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The HRNZ Board has reviewed the current structure of the Harness Jewels.

The key issue considered was the change previously agreed to for 2013 of extending the four year old (4YO) division to include five year olds (5YO).

In an exciting change, the Board has resolved that for the 2013 Harness Jewels, three new Listed races will be introduced:

• 5YO Emerald for pacing entires and geldings – stake $150,000

• 5YO Diamond for pacing mares – stake $150,000

• 5YO Ruby for trotters – stake $100,000

The three races that were initially programmed as 4&5YO races will revert back to being just for 4YO’s at the same stakes levels.

Details of when the additional races will be staged will be confirmed over the next week with the Ashburton TC and New Zealand Racing Board.

It is likely the three additional 5YO races will be staged at the Ashburton TC meeting on Sunday, 2 June, with the other nine Jewels races hosted in their traditional format on Saturday, 1 June.

The new races will replace the three consolations that had previously been planned for the 4&5YO categories.

In making this announcement, HRNZ Chairman Gary Allen stated: “While the original decision was made in good faith, feedback from within the industry was supportive of the retention of the four year old categories to just that age group.”

“With the additional funding being made available by the NZRB in its revised profit projections, HRNZ is in a position now to fund these changes and respond positively to the industry. This will result in an additional $390,000 being distributed to industry participants and see three more outstanding races highlighting the best of harness racing.”

In announcing these changes, Gary Allen stressed they were for 2013 only.

“A full review will be conducted following the 2013 Harness Jewels with an aim to release the format for the 2014 series in August. While we may like to retain 12 races at that time, funding considerations will require careful attention.”

An undertaking is given that the industry will be consulted in this process. “The Harness Jewels are a key component of our racing calendar and positively regarded by harness racing enthusiasts. The input of the industry into the future shape of this will be worthwhile and welcomed,” said Mr Allen.

The Harness Jewels was introduced by HRNZ in conjunction with the Ashburton TC in 2007.

Courtesy of Edward Rennell, HRNZ Chief Executive