More than $2 million will be added to stakes for the Feature and Premier 2 thoroughbred meetings in New Zealand next season.
The boost for Feature meetings, together with other increases for the 2017-18 season, were announced today by New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR).
It will lift the minimum stake for non-maiden races at all Feature meetings to $22,500 and means that the $22,500 non-maiden minimum will apply to virtually every Saturday meeting in the new season.
The increases are part of a $6.5 million lift in funding for stakes for the thoroughbred code, from the New Zealand Racing Board, for each of the next two seasons. This will produce a 13 per cent increase in budgeted NZTR-funded prize money for the 2017-18 season, which begins on August 1.
It had already been announced that NZTR had committed $3.25 million of the $6.5 million towards funding the $10,000 minimums for the code in the 2017-18 season.
NZTR consulted widely with its stakeholders prior to finalising the stakes schedule and there was widespread support for the proposal to focus on Feature meetings. There are 94 Feature meetings, including 69 on a Saturday, scheduled for the new season.
“The boost in stakes for the Feature meetings will reward our most progressive horses,” NZTR chairman Dr Alan Jackson said. “These are the horses who will be our future stars and we also want to encourage these horses to target our best meetings.”
The open handicaps at Feature meetings will have a minimum stake of $35,000, up $5000 from the present level, and Rating 85 races will rise from $25,000 to $30,000. These increases will apply to around 180 races.
The minimum stake for three-year-old races at Feature and Premier 2 meetings will rise from $20,000 to $25,000 and the minimum for Rating 75 races at Feature meetings will also be lifted to $25,000.
Rating 65, special condition and two-year-old races at Feature and Premier 2 meetings will be lifted from $20,000 to $22,500. There will also be a lift in the Iconic Race funding for the New Zealand Two Thousand Guineas and the New Zealand Oaks and increased funding support for the Karaka Million and the Karaka Million 3YO Classic, which will both have a $1 million stake in 2018.
In addition, each of the 17 heats in the Dunstan Feeds Stayers Championship will increase by $5000 with the final to have a stake of $100,000, an increase of $20,000 on this season, bringing the total increase across the series to $105,000. This is part of the NZTR initiative to boost interest in racing and breeding stayers.
The stake for Pearl Series races at Feature meetings will rise by $2500 and the minimum stake for Rating 75 races at Industry meetings and Tier 2 Feature meetings will be $11,000.