Slots a super success

Cambridge driver Benjamin Butcher struggles to control Cya Doit in the winners’ circle after its victory in race one. Photo: Mary Anne Gill

A huge crowd at Cambridge Raceway last week witnessed one of the country’s best harness racing pacers strut its stuff in the inaugural $900,000 slot race.

Self Assured, already a champion New Zealand and Auckland Cup winner, strode through the winning post at the hands of another champion, driver Mark Purdon.

And the win by the pre-race favourite, despite a wide barrier draw in the 2200m mobile race, met with approval from punters who took advantage of New Zealand’s new orange setting and the non-appearance of Cyclone Fili to bolster crowd numbers.

Groom James Stephens whispers words of encouragement into Self Assured’s ear in the minutes before the start of The Race. Photo: Mary Anne Gill.

All 500 hospitality seats and 700 general admission tickets sold before the gates opened and another 1300 walked through the gates on a clear full-moon lit night to become arguably the best crowd seen at The Raceway for years. Domestic turnover at the TAB was just over $1 million.

There was plenty else for locals to celebrate, given the six-year-old Self Assured gelding hails from Pukekohe via Rolleston and four Australian horses were also runs.

Poppy Kaire with Hot and Treacherous in the stables before The Race. Photo: Mary Anne Gill

South Coast Arden leads the field around the top of the home straight for the first time in The Race at Cambridge Raceway. Photo: Angelique Bridson.

Cambridge drivers Benjamin Butcher drove two winners, his father David and Nicky Chilcott one each and the 79-year-old Tamahere anaesthetist Luk Chin was delighted when he guided Jasinova to victory. It was the fourth training win of the month for Chin’s stable of four horses – Safrakova, Voronov, Alana and Jasinova.

Chief executive David Branch said the club hoped to increase the stake next year from $900,000 to $1 million and boost crowd numbers to 5000 people.

The crowd, arguably one of the raceway’s best in recent years. Photo Chanelle Lawson.

He was also considering adding a trotting slot race to next year’s Friday April 14 date.

The Race, already the richest harness race in New Zealand, saw slots in the invite-only race bought for $75,000 each for a guaranteed stake divided up with $400,000 to the winner, $125,000 for second, $85,000 third, $65,000 for fourth and the remaining five starters each getting $37,500.

More Recent Sports

More fun on the run

The annual Waipā Fun Run organised by Cambridge’s St Peter’s Catholic School is attracting a growing number of out-of-region participants. This year’s family fun walk and run event, which has Cambridge News as one of…

Eight Ball: it’s talk, not chalk

Members of the Eight Ball Group are used to being quizzed on the origins of their name. The reason has more to do with physiology than pool, it seems, because the four men who started…

An eye for the horses

Nathan Pearson isn’t your average teenage horse-enthusiast. His passion for horses began when he saddled up, aged four, for his lessons at Greenhithe Riding for the Disabled in Auckland. “I’d never seen him sit and…

Gymnasts face a hurdle

Cambridge’s gymnastics club is not struggling for members but without some more community support it might be forced to close its doors at the end of the term. The rental at its Shakespeare Street facility…