Our three-year-old trotting fillies will have a new Oaks race to compete for at Alexandra Park on May 5.
The $25,000 Haras des Trotteurs North Island Trotting Oaks was the brainchild of the New Zealand Standardbred Breeders Association.
The race, which is still to have its distance and mobile/stand details confirmed, came about after more than a year-and-a-half of consultation
Executive Manager of The NZSBA, Brad Reid said the introduction of the race was a "no-brainer" and one trotting breeders had been requesting for a while.
“The 3-year-old trotters already compete in The New Zealand Trotting Derby and Northern Derby and have done admirably in the past. Four fillies have won the Derby at Addington in the last 10 years, but that’s not to say they should have to take on the boys to earn black type and a nice stake.
“Given the pacing fillies are afforded the same opportunity to earn in oaks in either island, it made sense to have an Oaks for the trotting fillies at Alexandra Park,” said Reid.
Both Reid and the Racing Manager for Alexandra Park, Kevin Smith, said there was a growing interest in the trotting breed.
“May 5 is the perfect night to stage the race because two Group One nights precede it. That means the race should attract southern support and that is exactly what we are trying to do with this race – attract all breeders, owners and trainers from all parts of New Zealand,” Reid said.
He said the trotting breed in New Zealand had blossomed in recent years and had made huge progress in a decade.
“The introduction of world class trotting stallions from America and now Europe seems to have reinvigorated the breed.
“When Wilma’s Mate won the New Zealand Oaks in April she went 2:24 compared to Gold Star who won in 2:31 in 2007. Six fillies in this years NZ Trotting Oaks also went under Escapee’s previous race record of 2:25.3 showing the depth is there too.
“Then there’s the 56.9 and 28.2 sectionals! A decade ago who would have thought they were splits from a fillies trot? Not only are they trotting quicker, but cleaner as well with far fewer juvenile trotting races being tarnished by those not taking part on race-day!
“We are grateful to the Auckland trotting Club for agreeing to host it,” Reid said.
“The finer details are still to be finalised,” he added.
Speaking on Trackside Radio, Smith said trotting was a growth area and European trotters like Love You were making the breed stronger.
“There are a lot more trotting races than what there used to be. We have been talking with Brad and the NZSBA and I’m looking forward to the inaugural race in May,” Smith said.
Both Reid and Smith paid a tribute to race sponsor, Haras des Trotteurs, who were strong supporters of trotting in both the North and South Islands.
Haras des Trotteurs New Zealand spokesman Dave Sanders was delighted with the new Oaks.
“Haras des Trotteurs would like to thank the Auckland Trotting Club for the opportunity to be associated with this exciting new race on the trotting calendar, one which we hope will develop into a true classic in the years to come. It should provide another important pathway for trotting fillies which are the cornerstone of our breeding industry.
“The Northern Oaks now stands alongside our sponsorship of the Haras des Trotteurs Dominon Handicap which underline our continued commitment to the industry and our company vision of breeding world class trotters in New Zealand and Australia,” Sanders said.
Meanwhile Reid said Harness racing New Zealand’s ‘Dates Committee’ had approved the race.
“It will also be an important stakes race for those 3-year-olds wanting to qualify for the Group One Trotting Ruby on Harness Jewels Finals Day,” he said.