New middle-distance bonus series to take centre stage this New Zealand summer
Entain Australia and New Zealand has joined forces with New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) to introduce the New Zealand Summer Series Bonus - a move to further elevate New Zealand’s pinnacle race days over the summer racing season.
The inaugural Series provides an incentive for New Zealand and Australia’s leading middle-distance horses to be at the top of their game, competing for a lucrative purse of $650,000 in bonuses.
The New Zealand Summer Series Bonus will be held across four races between January and March next year, rewarding $500,000 to the Series winner, $100,000 to the runner up and $50,000 for the third place getter in the Series (with the associated Trainers taking home 10% of the bonus payments).
To be eligible for the winning bonus, a horse will need to run in one of the two 1600-metre entry races - the $400,000 Harcourts Thorndon Mile at Trentham on 20 January or the new $1m Elsdon Park Aotearoa Classic at Ellerslie on 27 January, held on TAB Karaka Millions night.
The Series will then progress towards two of New Zealand’s most iconic 2000-metre races - the $600,000 Herbie Dyke Stakes at Te Rapa on 10 February and the $450,000 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes at Ellerslie on 9 March.
The winner will be decided by a points system, with the points weighted towards the two Series races.
“The summer period represents the single most important strategic window for thoroughbred racing’s growth both domestically and internationally,” Entain Managing Director – New Zealand, Cameron Rodger, said.
"Our vision for this period is simple: ‘best horses, best tracks, best Jockeys, consistently’. This bonus Series will help to drive this vision, in combination with ongoing innovation around the racing calendar during this time,” he said.
NZTR CEO Bruce Sharrock is thrilled about the new Series and the opportunities it affords racing participants.
“This initiative is a testament to the ongoing collaboration between NZTR and Entain, highlighting our shared commitment to continually elevate our sport.”
“The New Zealand Summer Series Bonus is being funded this season by Entain and via the TAB NZ Rejuvenation Fund, and we’re grateful to both parties for supporting this worthy concept.
“The Series involves four middle-distance races across three of our premier racing venues, with a combined stake of $3.1m (including the bonus) up for grabs. The dates also coincide with four of our The Grand Tour Racing Festival meets, supercharging The Grand Tour activity and further promoting our top 20 race days across the country.
“With that level of prizemoney available, we’re expecting the crème of our industry to compete throughout these races. The points system, which will be announced next month, has been structured so as to create plenty of intrigue during the summer as to who will ultimately reign supreme.
“We’re looking forward to kicking off the Series on NZCIS Wellington Cup Day in January, with the Harcourts Thorndon Mile at Trentham being the first entry race, followed up by the newly established Elsdon Park Aotearoa Classic the following weekend at TAB Karaka Millions night,” Sharrock said.
A travel scheme of up to $150,000 has already been established by Entain to help entice Australian-trained horses to the TAB Karaka Millions meeting, particularly the $1m Elsdon Park Aotearoa Classic due to its open-entry criteria. This also provides the opportunity for these horses to stay on and contest one or both of the Series races.
NZTR and Entain recently announced a stakes increase to the Westbury Classic, providing a further incentive for Australian Thoroughbreds to head across the Tasman. The 1400-metre race for fillies and mares at Group 2 level will be boosted from $300,000 to $500,000 and will also be run at the TAB Karaka Millions twilight meeting.
“With such lucrative stakes on offer through this summer period, we’re expecting all our best Kiwi horses to be there,” Cameron Rodger said.
“Our TAB Karaka Millions twilight meeting, held on the eve of New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sales Series at Karaka, will no doubt be a massive drawcard for international visitors too. With this in mind, we believe some Australians will be very tempted to head across the ditch – both equine and human.”
Bonus Structure (Total bonus, including Trainer payment)
- Series winner: $500k
- Series runner up: $100k
- Series third placegetter: $50k
*Mandatory 10% Trainer payment to be paid from bonus amounts listed above.
**Points structure for the entry and Series races will be announced by Friday 15 December 2023.