Horse Racing in New Zealand has a long and rich history, including having the worlds very first Totalisator machine installed back in 1919!
To the average watcher each race and raceday may look pretty similar, however there are some significant differences. Meetings can range from high profile racedays, such as Te Arohas Breeders Stakes Day which is renowned for its social scene and fashion as much as its top class racing, to small weekday meetings which are very community focused and great fun, but the racing is often of a lot lower standard.
But while the racing may be of a 'lower standard', that doesn't mean the day out is any less enjoyable! Each race is classified and categorised based on a number of factors. These are the main types of races we see in New Zealand...
• Group - These are the very top echelon of races which are divided into Group 1 (the very best races including the Classics), Group 2 (just below championship standard) and Group 3 (often attracting quality horses, many of which are trials for Group 1 and 2 races).
• Listed - Just below Group races, these are designed to identify racehorses of superior merit but below Group Standard.
• Handicap - A race in which the weight each horse is to carry is individually allotted by the official NZTR handicapper who adjusts the weights according to past performance - the goal being to give all horses in a raced a theoretically equal chance of winning. Handicap races typically have a larger number of runners than Group or Listed races and often the barrier draw (what side of the track it starts from) can make a difference to the horse's chances.
• Maiden - A race for horses who have not yet won a race. A racehorse can earn a very reasonable living for its connections and still remain a maiden, racking up plenty of place prizemoney.
Races in New Zealand vary in distance, and depending on a horse's breeding it is suited to one type of distance over another. One of the key signs of a champion racehorse is one that can win over a wide range of distances. The main categories of distance are Sprints (1000 - 1500m) Mile (1600m) Middle Distance (1800m - 2400m) Staying (over 2400m). Whilst far less prominent than Flat racing, Jump racing also takes place in New Zealand with many racecourses also featuring a track for Steeplechasing (over large brush fences) and Hurdling (over smaller batton hurdle fences). Jump racing generally takes place during the winter months from March to early November. *source info - nzracing.co.nz
SOME BEGINNERS FAQ's
What time do the races start?
How much does it cost to get into the races?
What‘s available oncourse for Food & Beverage?
WHAT TIME DO THE RACES START?
Most race days start somewhere between 11am and 12.30pm depending on the time of year (summer or winter racing) and the number of races to be held during the day.
You can go to www.nzracing.co.nz and click on “Latest Fields” to the left of the homepage to see what time each race is on at any meeting you maybe going along to. Alternatively get in touch with one of our administration people by phone who will be happy to provide you with all the information you require click here to go to the “Contacts Page”.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO GET IN?
Many thoroughbred race days in New Zealand provide free entry to the public for the day. Premier race days usually carry a small charge for entry as do specialty themed race days such as “Summer Festival” and “Christmas at the Races” meetings.
WHAT'S AVAILABLE ON COURSE FOR FOOD AND DRINKS?
There are many options for food and dining on course. Here are four of the most common:
• Bring along your own picnic and enjoy the day on the public lawn.
• For the no effort option treat the kids to a traditional hot carton of chips and an ice cream for the day while you enjoy a sandwich and something sweet from one of the oncourse food outlets.
• Feel like something tasty to get you through the day? Try an oncourse buffet usually consisting of hot meat selection, a variety of salads and hot vegetable dishes, perfect for the whole family.
• Book a marquee package or table to suit the number of people with you and enjoy either buffet or set menu dining options. Phone the club and see what’s available, this is a great way to give yourself a base for the day. Race day visitors are usually surprised at what great value these raceday packages are and usually make a habit of it!
• There are a number of beverage outlets oncourse which provide both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages throughout the day. Look in the front of your race book for the course map and list of dining and bar areas.
Never placed a bet before? Or perhaps you have, but now you're planning your first trip to the racetrack. Don't let fear of the unknown put you off – there are plenty of ways to have a flutter. Here are some tips care of the Racing Board. More can be found at www.theraces.co.nz. Print out this guide and put it in your pocket – or handbag – and get so much more from a great day out.
Pick up a race book! Racebooks are pocket and handbag sized, and once you get the hang of it, easy to refer to. The race book lists all the races for the day, and the runners in each race, along with form for each one – that's how they've been performing recently. It'll give you the all-important race numbers and runner numbers – and this guide tells you how to start making sense of the form as well.
How do I get a bet on? Go up to a betting window, and talk to the TAB operator. There will be a queue if a race is starting soon. The cardinal rule is, get your bet on early.
What do I say? Just three simple things:
1.The number of the race (or just say “the next race” if that's the one you want).
2.The number of the runner – that's the number on their saddlecloth
3.How much you want to pay for your bet.
How do I pick a winner? There's no magic formula, and the experts don't always get it right. Here's a look at picking for three levels of expertise...
Lucky Pick: Choose your lucky number. Watch out for the jockeys' silks (that's the name for their colourful jacket and hat) or the dog vests, and pick your lucky colour. Or back your lucky number in each race – odds are you're bound to have a win during the day. Lucky wins from random picks have a long and honourable tradition.
Take It Easy: If you want to get a bet on but can't decide what to back, ask the TAB operator for an “Easybet”. The computer will pick your runner for as little as $2.
View The Birdcage: Before the start of a horse race, the runners are paraded. This takes place in the birdcage – the enclosure in front of the grandstand. Take a look and see what you think. Also watch them on their way to the start line. Once the horses leave for the start you have about 10 minutes to place your bet.
What Bet types do I choose? The options are wide and varied both in difficulty, value, and time of the day. When starting out its best to keep it simple with these options.
Win: Pick a runner to finish first.
Place: Pick a runner to be first, second or third.
Each Way: This popular bet gives you both a win and place on your pick – e.g. $1 each way costs $2 - $1 for the win bet and $1 for the place bet. If your pick wins you collect win and place dividends; if it comes second you collect the place dividend.