NZTR: Shifting the two Guineas Group One races north will ruin Cup Week in Christchurch!

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The New Zealand 1000 Guineas and New Zealand 2000 Guineas are the two jewels in the crown of what is a fabulous week of thoroughbred racing at Riccarton Park each November.

Most attending racegoers regard ‘Cup Week’ in Christchurch as the complete New Zealand racing experience. Traditionally patrons have come from all corners of Australasia to attend a carnival that holds a unique atmosphere, stages high-quality racing, and in particular attracts the best spring three-year-olds in New Zealand to race on arguably the best racecourse in New Zealand.

New Zealand has 21 Group One thoroughbred races. The two Guineas races are the only two left in the South Island, and both have sponsorship in place for their renewals in 2020. Both events have been run in a highly successful manner for 47 years and came into being only when the NZ Derby and NZ Oaks were transferred from Riccarton to Ellerslie and Trentham, respectively.

Christchurch and Riccarton Park embraced the Guineas races when they made their debut in 1973, and they have become the prestigious ‘blue ribbon’ events. They are the highlight races of the year, and to break this fantastic history at Riccarton will irreparably damage ‘Cup Week’ as we know it.

The only excuse offered for this move - that COVID-19 may interrupt the airfreight of horses from Auckland to Christchurch - is invalid. IRT has resumed flying horses to Sydney return and stated on May 19th they expected the usual South Island service to be restored by August. Majestic Transport has resumed its inter-island service.

Losing these two races would rip the heart out of ‘Cup Week’ and devastate South Island racing. Riccarton invariably provides an excellent spring racing surface, and the big roomy course gives every horse its chance, and 2000 Guineas/NZ Cup Day is unparalleled in NZ for crowds of 20,000, atmosphere and a showcase day of quality racing for the entire country.

The concept of the two races shifting north and then being returned to Riccarton the following year, as suggested, has a degree of disingenuousness that we, the undersigned, have serious concerns about materialising.

Taranaki trainer John Wheeler says: “Why would any logical administrator try and ruin the best week’s racing carnival in Australasia, bearing in mind that Melbourne is a month-long and is the only one that compares. Using the excuse that horse transport is a major issue is shameful. It isn’t now and has never been in the past.”

We, the undersigned, implore NZTR to dismiss the move to shift the New Zealand 1000 and 2000 Guineas races and retain these important events at their traditional and rightful venue.

Brian de Lore
On behalf of the undersigned