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Southern Mile gets Innovation Funding green light

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Otago Racing Club’s Southern Mile series is the first beneficiary of NZTR’s Stakes Innovation Fund.

The $500,000 Stakes Innovation Fund was flagged when NZTR announced stakes increases in early July and clubs were encouraged to apply to the Fund to further improve their race meeting performance.

NZTR received 24 applications for funding and while the Otago RC submission met all the criteria, a further 16 submissions were deemed to have merit but required further work.

"The Southern Mile series, which involves a number of clubs in the South Island, was a comprehensive and considered submission, with a lot of work having gone into it, particularly from a racing programming perspective," NZTR GM Customer, Dan Smith said.

The Southern Mile will consist of a series of 10 qualifying races, with a grand final event on 5 March 2022. As the name suggests all events are conducted over 1600m and, to be eligible for the final a horse must have competed in a heat.

The series gets underway at Wingatui on Boxing Day, with two heats run that day. In addition to Wingatui, the series will also see heats run at Riccarton, Ascot Park, and Riverton.

Six clubs from around the South Island will host heats - Otago Racing Club, Canterbury Jockey Club, Banks Peninsula Racing Club, Waikouaiti Racing Club, Southland Racing Club and Riverton Racing.

Otago Racing Club President Murray Acklin said that the prime objective behind the application for Stakes Innovation funding was to reward owners throughout the South Island.

"We wanted a competitive series from our largest pool of horses and The Southern Mile will achieve that objective, restricting entries to Rating 74 and below," Acklin said.

"The series provides an increase in stakes money of over 50 per cent in most races compared with last season and gives a real focus on South Island racing as the series progresses towards the final," he said.

Decisions regarding further successful applications are expected to be made by the end of October.

"We will be working with the applicant clubs of the other 16 submissions, and we are confident that, with that work, these applications will meet the criteria and can be approved," Smith said.

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