Talk­ing points: Will race stakes rise more?

Matamata Chronicle - - Out & About - MAT KERMEEN

ONE: Thor­ough­bred stakes are on the rise but is there more to come?

New Zealand Thor­ough­bred Rac­ing (NZTR) an­nounced on Fri­day that more than $2 mil­lion will be pumped into race stakes. The in­creases are a much-needed boost but are they enough? The an­swer from most is that Fri­day’s in­creases are only go­ing to help the in­dus­try tread wa­ter at best.

Costs are con­stantly ris­ing and the af­ford­abil­ity of well-bred horses is only go­ing one way. Money does not grow on trees and there is no magic pot of gold but the rac­ing board and NZTR need to find a way to make sure fund­ing pro­vi­sions are in place for fur­ther stakes in­creases across the board within the next two years.

There is al­ready talk that the min­i­mum stake, raised to $10,000 back in March, is too low. Fri­day’s an­nounce­ment will thwart some of the dis­con­tent from train­ers, own­ers and breed­ers but if they can not see a plan for fur­ther in­creases in the com­ing sea­sons, the cur­rent mood will just be a short calm be­fore the storm.

TWO: Michelle Payne’s trail­blaz­ing ways con­tinue

Only Michelle Payne could come out of last week’s ap­petite sup­pres­sant scan­dal with her dar­ling of rac­ing rep­u­ta­tion firmly in­tact. The first fe­male jockey to win the Mel­bourne Cup (aboard Prince Of Pen­zance in 2015), was sus­pended for four weeks on Thurs­day af­ter test­ing pos­i­tive to the banned sub­stance Phen­ter­mine - a sub­stance that is used as an ap­petite sup­pres­sant. Many jock­eys have and would have brushed the me­dia and gone to ground but Payne took it all in her stride.

Front foot­ing the is­sue and tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for her mis­take was the best thing Payne could have done. It was a scan­dal that could have dragged on and se­ri­ously da­m­aged her rep­u­ta­tion but fronting up com­bined with her im­mense pop­u­lar­ity means this scan­dal will be a dis­tant me­mory by next week. Payne has owned her mis­take and marched on like only she could. In an odd way, it seems the events of last week have ac­tu­ally grown her movie star sta­tus.

Satur­day’s jump­ing races at Hast­ings had it all. Two healthy maiden hur­dle fields, a close fin­ish in the fea­ture hur­dle, strong num­bers in the maiden steeple­chase and the ar­rival of a star in the mak­ing in Just Ishi who was a dom­i­nant Hawke’s Bay Steeple­chase winner. Just Ishi may have earned favouritism for the Welling­ton Steeple­chase (July 15) in the process and Kip­keino was im­pres­sive in scor­ing his first fea­ture win in the Hawke’s Bay Hur­dle.

The two Pres­tige races at Tren­tham in two weeks time are shap­ing up to be the best they have been in years and the strong fields should con­tinue at the Grand Na­tional car­ni­val at Ric­car­ton. Jumps rac­ing re­ceives more than its fair share of crit­i­cism but there is no deny­ing it is go­ing from strength to strength this win­ter.


Michelle Payne’s su­per­star sta­tus has grown from her ap­petite sup­pres­sant scan­dal.

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