The Vodafone Derby meeting will take place at Ellerslie on Sunday, 7 March.
New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) and the Auckland Racing Club (ARC) confirmed the venue following the government’s announcement this afternoon that the Auckland region would return to Alert Level 2 from 6am on Sunday.
NZTR and the ARC appreciate the patience of industry participants regarding the uncertainty of where the Vodafone Derby meeting would be staged.
“We realise that this has been a very testing time for our trainers, jockeys and owners leading into one of the biggest meetings of the season as we were faced yet another Covid curve ball,” NZTR CEO Bernard Saundry said.
“From the moment the Prime Minister announced the change in alert levels last Saturday night, our focus has been to ensure this meeting went ahead. Various options were considered, and we are pleased the change to alert levels has allowed us to hold the Derby at Ellerslie,” he said.
The announcement that Auckland would return to Alert Level 2 on Sunday was a huge relief to ARC CEO Paul Wilcox.
“It has been a stressful week as we considered a number of scenarios and we also thank our owners, trainers and jockeys for bearing with us as we went through those options. To be able to race at Ellerslie, albeit under Alert Level 2, is the industry’s preferred option,” he said.
“We are looking forward to a Vodafone Derby day which will be a little different to those which have gone before but which will no doubt be memorable.”
With the meeting taking place under Alert Level 2 protocols, owners will need to RSVP to an email from the Auckland Racing Club, if they wish to attend. Given the short turnaround owners are advised to check for this email and, should they have any queries please contact Craig Baker at email@example.com
Both NZTR and the ARC extended thanks to those involved with Hawke’s Bay Racing Incorporated.
“The club did not hesitate when they were asked to provide the industry with a Plan B option for the Vodafone Derby meeting,” Saundry said.
“Despite hosting their Lowland Stakes meeting on Wednesday, Darin Balcombe, his committee, and their track manager Richard Fenwick, were working to ensure their venue was at its optimum should they be required to hold the Derby on Sunday.”