Annually, New Zealand has more than 366 race meetings taking place at 50 racecourses. The meetings vary from the high profile ones such as the Auckland Cup, which is well known for its social aspect and fashion, and of course top class horse racing. There are also smaller country meetings that are attended by the surrounding communities and offer fun events with racing of a lower standard.
Horse Racing Categories
The races taking place across New Zealand are divided into different categories. The Group category is the top level, and this group is subdivided into Group 1 (best), Group 2 (just under championship standard) and Group 3 (usually trials for Group 1 and 2). Listed horses are those that have superior merit but are below the Group.
A Handicap is the weight a horse carries, so a better horse will have a heavier weight. This is to give all horses an equal chance of winning. The Maiden group is for horses that have never won a race.
For new and experienced bettors, knowing the different categories is hugely helpful, as are horse racing tips that provide information on form, trainers, past wins and other factors that may influence the outcome of a race.
New Zealand Cup
The most prestigious horse racing week in New Zealand is the New Zealand Cup. It is held in November at Riccarton Park. This week is full of great horse racing, fashion and entertainment for the whole family.
The racing week includes 9 group or listed horse races. The main event of the week is in Christchurch and it is the New Zealand Cup Day that brings in the highest revenue, not only in attendance, but also in betting turnover. There are also 3 major races featured during this week, and they are the Sothys New Zealand 2000 Guineas taking place on the first day, and the Gavelhouse 1000 taking place on the last day. The race that includes spectacular fashion is the Coupland’s Bakeries Mile.
Wellington Cup Carnival
Another important event is the Wellington Cup Carnival, and this includes 3 Group races which include a Group 1 race for the best 3 year olds. The Wellington Cup also has a day of fashion held at Wallaceville Estate, and this is considered the biggest race day featuring the best stayers and sprinters in New Zealand. This Cup has been in existence since 1874 and is run across 3200m.
The Interislander Summer Festival Family Day is held at Trentham, and this is a day of entertainment with many activities for children. This day also includes popular races such as the Harcourts Thorndon Mile, and Wellfield Desert Stakes.
Auckland Cup Carnival
The Auckland Cup Carnival is held at Ellerslie in March and the highlight of this carnival is the Vodafone Derby Day, which is a race of Group 1 three year olds. The Derby Day features a range of entertainment, food and drink and spectacular fashions. This is considered the most prized race on the New Zealand horse racing calendar.
The Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup Day forms part of the Auckland Carnival, and is a 3200m racing programme. It includes a Group 1 race for the leading weight-for-age performers, as well as a Group 1 race for the leading 2 year olds.
The New Zealand race calendar is filled with exciting horse racing events throughout the year, whether it be thoroughbred racing, harness racing or smaller community horse races.
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