A brand new $120,000 three race ‘conditioned’ concept for 4-year-old and Older Pacing females and males and for Trotters has been introduced by the NZ Sires Stakes Board and debuted at Addington Raceway last Friday, the 16th June.
The three additional races have been made possible with the support of the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club, the Auckland Trotting Club and Harness Racing New Zealand and are sponsored by PGG Wrightson. The PGG Wrightson Uncut Gem’s Classic races follow on from, and complement the Harness Jewels. Each race is to carry an estimated stake of $40,000, adding an additional $120,000 for 4-year-old and older horses to compete for.
There are of course certain conditions to be met for your horse to be eligible to race in these specific races. If your horse went through the yearling sales and the Vendor/Purchaser payment was made at sale time or alternatively either of the foal nomination for the Sires Stakes or Nevele R Fillies Series was paid, then it is likely that your horse would be eligible. If not, as long as the sire of your horse was Sires Stakes nominated, then there was provision for a Late Entry option to be made.
There are also some exclusions; Group One race winners, winners of a $100,000 pace or a $50,000 trot and the first three home in the 4-year-old Harness Jewels Diamond or Emerald pacing races and the first two home in the 4-year-old Harness Jewels Ruby trotting race of that season.
The format of the races was set, with the pacers to race in a Preferential Barrier Draw mobile 2600m and the trotters in a handicap race with Up To Rating 79 on the Front Line, R80 – R89 on 10m, R90 – 99 on 20m and R100+ on 30m, also over the 2600m journey.
Whilst the NZ Sires Stakes Board’s policy is to maintain stake levels for the 2 & 3-year-old series it administers, they felt that they needed to expand these series to cater for a wider age of horse to maintain ownership and longevity of horses racing careers. These three new races provide a further opportunity, not only for some horses that contest the Harness Jewels, but also for some that do not make the Jewels and will double the number of 4-year-old and older races for horses within the Sires Stakes administered race programme.
It is also planned for this Uncut Gems series to alternate with the Harness Jewels, between the North and South Islands, raced this year by the NZMTC and in 2018 to be hosted by the ATC approximately two weeks after the Jewels of that year.
It was ladies first, as the first race of this new series was to be the Listed $40,000 PGG Wrightson’s Uncut Gems Mares Classic. It was taken out is fine fashion by the favourite Rocknroll Princess, driven by Gavin Smith, for the Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick training combination, in a slick time of 3:07.6 (MR 1:56.0), just 0.2 seconds outside the NZ Record held by The Orange Agent and with a winning margin of 5 lengths, all from her outside 2nd Row draw. This 4-year-old mare is raced by Stonewall Stud Ltd and the Stonewall Stud No.8 Syndicate and was bred by Stonewall Stud, being by Rock N Roll Heaven out of Cruzee Lass.
The next in the race series was the Listed $40,000 PGG Wrightson’s Uncut Gems Trotters Classic. It was also won by the favourite for the event in Dark Horse, who after getting away well under an initial false start, managed to get away safely the second time from her 20m back Mark and had to come 3-wide from the tail of the field with over a lap-to-go, pressing on for a very good win for trainer/driver Nathan Williamson, in a time of 3:16.9 (MR 2:01.8) by 4 lengths. Dark Horse is a 4-year-old mare by Bacardi Lindy out of Juliana and is owned by Griffins Syndicate and the Seafield Trotting Syndicate and was bred by KR Grice and BR Grice.
The third race in the series was the Listed $40,000 PGG Wrightson’s Uncut Gems Entires & Geldings Classic. It too was taken out by the favourite, Cash N Flow, who started from the outside of the Front Line and was taken back off the gate to settle last, before going forward 3-wide at the 1000m Mark and pressing on for a good 1½ length victory in a time of 3:08.9 (MR 1:56.9). Cash N Flow, a 4-year-old gelding by Mach Three out of Karen Donna, was driven by Tim Williams for trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen and owners GA Woodham, F Tong and WR Pengelly. He was bred by Breckon Bloodstock Ltd and for good measure another Breckon Bloodstock bred horse, Max Phactor finished in 3rd placing in this race.
Three great races, for three good stakes and further opportunities to race older horses of both genders and gaits, have resulted in the birth of a great concept.
Congratulations to all connections of the successful runners and a bouquet too, to the NZ Sires Stakes Board for their initiative in developing this series.