IN Racing
Hastings expected to stage 14 racedays in the new racing season
John Jenkins | May 04, 2024
Wewillrock and jockey Jonathan Riddell are well clear of their rivals in a $40,000 R85 1200m at Wanganui

There are 14 racedays scheduled to be run on the Hastings track in the new season, which begins on August 1.

This is the same number that were originally scheduled for this season but the two racedays that were meant to be run last month (April 13 and April 27) had to be cancelled due to the Hastings racing surface undergoing a major renovation.

Although there are 14 racedays set down to be run on the Hastings track next season one of these is the Feilding Jockey Club’s meeting on Saturday, November 2.

This raceday, which features the Listed Feilding Cup (2100m), would normally be run on the Awapuni grass track but that is also undergoing a major renovation with racing not expected to resume there until the end of January.

This means all meetings scheduled for the Awapuni grass track in the interim have had to be transferred to other tracks.

Hastings has picked up the November 2 date but this is sure to be only a temporary measure as no doubt Awapuni will be keen to take it back for the following season.

There is now an additional meeting to be run at Hastings on March 15 next year but the mid-May date has now gone as has the one normally run at the end of June.

At one time Hastings staged 16 racedays a year but that number is gradually dwindling as more emphasis is put on bolstering the number of racedays staged by clubs from Taupo north.

It is a fact that the majority of the thoroughbred racehorse population is based in the Waikato and Auckland regions and Hastings is regarded by many racing participants as being out on a limb.

But the Hawke’s Bay weather is arguably the best in the country and the Hastings racetrack has, in the main, provided one of the best racing surfaces throughout the whole year. It is clearly underutilized.

The three days of this year’s Hawke’s Bay spring carnival will be run on September 7, September 28 and October 12.

The full list of Hastings race meetings for the new season is:


Saturday 7 September

Saturday 28 September


Saturday 12 October


Saturday 2 November

Sunday 17 November


Wednesday 11 December

Tuesday 31 December


Wednesday 29 January


Sunday 16 February

Friday 28 February


Saturday 15 March


Saturday 12 April

Wednesday 30 April


Saturday 12 July


Wewillrock likely to stay in NZ this winter

The connections of class Hastings sprinter Wewillrock are likely to resist the temptation to take the horse back across the Tasman this winter and will instead concentrate on races closer to home.

The El Roca five-year-old was a winner and a black-type placegetter in Sydney las winter and a return to Australia looked on the cards after his easy win in a $40,000 Rating 85 race over 1200m at Wanganui last Saturday.

But Guy Lowry, who trains Wewillrock in partnership with Leah Zydenbos, said this week the horse is likely to be harshly treated in the weights in Australia and it is probably better to stick to upcoming sprint races in New Zealand.

Wewillrock had a rating of 85 points going into last Saturday’s race and had to lump topweight of 60kg.

He was sent out as a $2.60 favourite and lived right up to those high expectations, leading all the way and outclassing his rivals by kicking right away over the final stages to win by three lengths.

That win earned Wewillrock another four rating points, meaning he is now on 89 and restricted to open class races in New Zealand from now on.

But Lowry said he would likely be rated on 90 plus in Australia, where he was the winner of a Benchmark 88 handicap at Randwick last winter and third in the Listed June Stakes (1100m), also on the Randwick track.

Wewillrock was also stakes placed in New Zealand as a three-year-old, finishing third in both the Group 3 Almanzor Trophy (1200m) and Group 3 Cambridge Breeders’ Stakes (1200m).

Unplaced in the Group 2 Foxbridge Plate (1200m) and Listed Lightning Handicap (1200m) in his first two starts this season, he showed more promising signs with a second in the Listed City of Napier Sprint (1200m) at Otaki on April 13 and was right back at the top of his game at Wanganui last Saturday.

 “It’s just great to see a good horse like him back to his best,” co-trainer Leah Zydenbos said after the win.

“He can sometimes take a while to get fit, but when he’s on his game, he’s really on.”

Lowry said they may now look at running the horse in a $40,000 open sprint over 1100m at Trentham on May 18.

Experienced jockey Jonathan Riddell was aboard Wewillrock at Wanganui last Saturday and has now guided him to three wins and three placings from eight rides.

“He’s a fair animal and one of my favourites,” Riddell said. “He’s a better horse than what he was racing against today, so it was good to get the result.

“I think Guy might have liked me to take a sit today, but he’s a pretty competitive horse and I would have had to hold him back to do that. I also might have ended up stuck behind another horse coming back in my face.

“He was travelling well all the way, and I was just hoping staying inside was the right move. He kicked strongly and won easy.”

Wewillrock now boasts a record of six wins, five seconds and two thirds and has filled a first five placing in 16 of his 18 starts.

He is raced by Waikato Stud’s Mark Chittick in partnership with Hawke’s Bay brothers Mark and Paul Apatu and has now amassed  $261,427 in stakemoney.


Flashlight looks a promising stayer

Hastings trainer Guy Lowry predicts a big future for Flashlight as a stayer after the horse created a favourable impression when winning on debut in a maiden 1600m race at Otaki on Anzac Day.

Lowry bred and owns the big three-year-old son of Embellish and believes the further he goes the better he will be.

The horse went into last week’s Otaki race following two barrier trials, the second of them resulting in a good second over 1200m at Foxton at the beginning of April.

Apprentice jockey Lily Sutherland bounced Flashlight out well from an outside barrier and managed to settle him fourth in the running. She bided her time until just before the home turn and then sent the horse forward and he improved quickly around the leaders to lodge a challenge early in the home straight.

Despite being forced over extra ground by another runner half-way up the straight, Flashlight kept up a strong run to the line to win by a neck.

Lowry, who trains Flashlight in partnership with Leah Zydenbos, said the horse has come through the race extremely well and they will now look for a Rating 65 race over 1600m for him before he is stepped up in distance.

“I think he needs another run at 1600 metres but I do think that he will develop into a very good stayer,” Lowry said.

Flashlight is out of the No Excuse Needed mare Flare and is a half-brother to the three-race winner Candle while the dam has since produced a yearling filly by Time Test.


Imperatriz goes up for sale this month 

It will be full-circle for 10-time Group 1 winner Imperatriz when she is offered at the Magic Millions Broodmare Sale on the Gold Coast on May 28.

By champion sire I Am Invincible, the Australian-bred Imperatriz was purchased by Te Akau Racing principal David Ellis for $360,000 at the 2020 Gold Coast yearling sales and went on to win nearly $7million in stakes from her 19 wins and four minor placings from 27 starts.

“We sought proposals for the sale from the major Australasian thoroughbred sale companies, and she returns to where her fairytale career began,” Ellis said.

“There is no doubt Imperatriz will be the headline act on the thoroughbred auction calendar internationally.

“She is the most globally recognized mare ever offered at public auction in the Southern Hemisphere. Her outstanding achievements speak volumes about her exceptional talent and tenacity on the track.

“Imperatriz won more Group 1 races than any other horse worldwide in 2023, solidifying her status as one of the greatest racemares of recent times. She is a rare and valuable gem who will be highly sought after.”

In unique circumstances, Imperatriz will remain safely in her paddock at Te Akau Stud while her sale is conducted on site virtually, with bidding online and at the Gold Coast venue.

Her auction will be conducted at the Magic Millions complex with a video of her career highlights helping to entice the bidders.

Imperatriz won 10 Group 1 races in her star-studded career, six of those in Australia, along with four Group 2 and two Group 3 victories. She broke The Valley track record in the Group 2 McEwan Stakes (1000m) and smashed that record again at her next start in the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m).