Hurdle racing 'first' for
HURDLING events are now a regular part of the Auckland Greyhound Racing Club's (GRC) racing programme, after a proposal to have two trial races at Manukau Stadium paid off.
Club president Ron Dent, who was in favour of the idea, said two four-dog trials were staged at Manukau on Thursday June 8, and no problems were experienced at all.
As a result of the trial's smooth operation the first TAB hurdling race in the history of Auckland greyhound racing was held three days later on the track at the club's June 11 meeting. It was very well received by the huge crowd that attended for the occasion.
Dent said he had received a lot of inquiries about hurdling in the City of Sails over the years and now he was at the helm he felt it was a good time to investigate the proposal, and support such concerns.
"There were a lot of trainers who had expressed interest in the concept.
"Now the track has proved to be suitable I think hurdle races will become popular. Hurdling is a great spectacle and it also gives older dogs a chance to keep on racing," he said.
For years the Auckland GRC has owned hurdling equipment, but over a period of time that gear had rusted and rotted away in front of the clubhouse to virtually nothing.
|A quality field, a spactacular race and a deserved winner were the ingredients of this year's Duke of Edinburgh Silver Collar. Winner Aqua Rattle is pictured with trainer John Goode.
Dent said an Auckland garden centre had offered to sponsor the equipment that was required for hurdling. All the centre wanted was its advertising on the equipment.
The jumps for the June meeting were provided by Waikato and Central Districts clubs. Trainers from that region also provided dogs for the first TAB race. "They brought their own travelling sideshow to Manukau. It was their idea and we acted on it. I know in the past there have been some members of Auckland greyhound officialdom who have not been too keen on the idea, but TAB figures show that hurdling is as popular as flat racing.
Anything that will bring more dollars and people into the industry has to be good for the game," Dent said.
Dent, who was elected to the helm of the Auckland GRC in December after four years as vice-president, said he scheduled the two trial races beforehand to ensure the track was safe.
"The only hitch I could see was that the dogs could possibly run off, but I doubted that since our track has been reconstructed. Unlike Addington where it would be impossible to stage hurdle races, we have total fencing. The dogs could possibly jump across to the infield, but we had no problems with that. I believe we have a great venue for hurdling," Dent said.
The president said the club would solicit trainers to run one race a month with a view to increasing that number, depending on the number of hurdling dogs available. Hurdling used to be staged at the former Kumeu track, but because the 'old Auckland guard' were anti the idea, hurdling never took off at Manukau.
"I think people get sick of watching sprint and middle-distance races all the time. That's why I've tried to have at least one distance race programmed each time we race.
"People need diversity and hurdling is such a wonderful spectacle," Dent said.