IN Other
Hastings Racecourse valuable centre in cyclone recovery
John Jenkins | February 23, 2023
Piles of bedding and clothes cover the floor ready for distribution

   In the midst of recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle, Hawke’s Bay Racing is showing it is much more than an organisation centered around thoroughbred horse racing.

   Since the cyclone devastated the Hawke’s Bay region on Tuesday of last week, the Hastings racecourse has become an important centre for the community, helping people and animals recover, providing meals and temporary accommodation and acting as a base to help clean-up efforts.

   Hawke’s Bay Racing was due to stage a race meeting at the Hastings racecourse last Sunday but decided to abandon that day and focus instead on helping the community.

   Hawke’s Bay Racing and New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing have since decided to transfer the Little Avondale Lowland Stakes Raceday, scheduled for Hastings next Wednesday, to the Awapuni racecourse in Palmerston North.

    In a statement from Hawke’s Bay Racing it said that, with the support of NZTR, it wants to continue to support the ongoing recovery work that is being done and drawing regional resource away from this recovery would not be appropriate with many families still trying to locate loved ones.

   “It wouldn’t have been the right thing to do to be running a race meeting while everyone’s attention is on trying to respond and help each other in the community,” Hawke’s Bay Racing chief executive Aaron Hamilton said.

   “Whilst we’re doing a great thing for the human side and the animals, we’re also doing our bit for the community as a whole. We’re showing that racecourses do more than just hold racing. We’re a massive community asset and we’re here to support this response however we can.”

   Hastings racecourse was relatively unscathed from the cyclone, barring a few leaks in some of the buildings. The first task was to help the displaced people who were without power and food, serving some meals and offering showers and wireless internet.

   As power was gradually restored, the focus was then centered on other activities with a clothing distribution centre set up as well as an animal shelter.

   “Fortunately there are a lot of very good people here organising everything and they are all doing a tremendous job,” Hamilton added.

   He said the animal shelter quickly became inundated with family pets and strays.

   “We were getting dogs, cats, pigeons, goldfish – you name it, we got it here.”

   With most people in rural communities helping each other out with livestock accommodation, it’s been mainly urban residents who have benefited from the shelter.

   “We got animals coming in from people who’ve had their houses red-stickered. They have got to find temporary accommodation somewhere and it might be in a place that doesn’t accept pets.

   “In those cases, they’ve been able to accommodate their pets at the racecourse and, when they are ready to move, they’ll be reunited with their pets again.

   “We’ve had dogs found on the side of the road covered in mud, and they have been brought to the shelter, cleaned up and housed. The people operating the shelter will then try to find their owners.”

   The racecourse also received a large refrigerator to store pet food which has been helicoptered out to people unable to get to the racecourse.

   In addition, a Defence Force team has set itself up at the racecourse and has been using it as a base for their clean-up operations.

   The programme for next Wednesday’s transferred race meeting at Awapuni will remain unchanged, with the addition of a maiden 1200m race. The first race is timed for 2.08pm and the last at 6.09pm.

   The meeting previously scheduled at Awapuni on Friday, March 3, will be removed from the calendar.

   Further races may be added to upcoming meetings where required.

   With the Te Aroha track still unavailable for racing due to recent weather events, the meeting scheduled for there on Friday, March 10, will now move to Wednesday, March 10, and be conducted by the Taupo Racing Club on the Taupo track.

   The Otaki-Maori race meeting scheduled for March 8 will now move to Friday, March 10.


Donations roll in for cyclone relief.

   While the enormity of the cyclone devastation is seemingly overwhelming, New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing is proud of the widespread and collective response from the industry, particularly to assist those stakeholders caught up in this disaster.

   NZTR is heartened by the response from the industry, not just to its combined public appeal focused on a fund for horse feed, but with two other appeals established by industry players – Cambridge trainer Roger James and Te Akau Racing.

   The combined public appeal by NZTR, Dunstan Horse feeds and New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association for donations to fund feed has raised a significant amount. It is intended to support the wider equine community.

   NZTR allotted an initial $50,000 to the fund, which was also been boosted by more than $30,000 from racing participants. While the bulk of this fund will be allocated to horse feed in partnership with Dunstan, a portion has also been spent on sundry veterinary supplies and horse equipment.

   Waipukurau Jockey Club president Kirsty Lawrence said her club has been set-up as a supply hub, with over 300 bales of donated balayage onsite for distribution, meadow hay as well as cat and dog supplies.

   Horse feed is also being distributed to the Riding for the Disabled arena in Napier and to the Hastings racecourse.

   Cambridge thoroughbred trainer Roger James and his Hastings-born partner Robert Wellwood have launched an appeal for funds to provide provisions for day-to-day living essentials for those people who have lost everything or who have been significantly affected.

   James, in conjunction with prominent Cambridge thoroughbred owner-breeder and supermarket owner Tony Rider, arranged for a truck load of essential groceries and other items to be transported to those people in greatest need.

   The New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeding Association and the New Zealand Harness Association have also come on board, offering stallion services to be auctioned on Gavelhouse, with the proceeds going to the fund.

   A major contribution to the fundraising facilitated by Roger James came from last Saturday’s Pukekohe race meeting where Brendan and Jo Lindsay, owners of the Avondale Cup winner Aquacade, donated their $68,000 share of the winning stake.

   Meanwhile, Te Akau Racing launched its fundraiser last week with principal David Ellis and his wife Karyn Fenton-Ellis pledging to personally match every donation dollar for dollar up to $10,000.

   The Te Akau fund has received significant donations and pledges from its owners, supporters and professional partners.

   “The response has been incredible both from inside and outside of New Zealand,” said David Ellis.

   “Our very first pledge was a massive $10,000 from an owner overseas and that pool has climbed substantially since,” Elllis said.

   “The total donation (to be announced on March 1) will be sent to the New Zealand Red Cross for its valiant and vital work in the region,” he added. 


Roch ‘N’ Horse back on track

   New Zealand-owned mare Roch ‘N’ Horse’s campaign to defend her crown in the Group 1 A$1.5million Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 11 is back on track.

   The Per Incanto mare was withdrawn from last Saturday’s Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) on vets advice, due to cellulitis in her hind leg.

   Trainer Michael Moroney said she is back to full health and was pleased with her work on Wednesday ahead of this Saturday’s Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Sandown.

   “She needed one (hit-out) and I wanted to see that she was through the little problem that we had. She worked really well,” Moroney said.

   “She looks terrific. She is a big, powerful mare now. I can see why she is such a good sprinter because she has got a lot of muscle on her now.

   “It was a hard watch for us last Saturday to see all of the horses that we have beaten run so close to the winner. That is now behind us and I still think we did the right thing, erring on the side of caution.

   “This Saturday’s race should still be a nice lead in to the Newmarket a week later.”