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Preparations for race day almost complete

This time!

Sunday of next week — February 16 — is when the Gisborne community goes racing. The Gisborne Herald’s Wynsley Wrigley went out to the Poverty Bay Turf Club’s Ashwood Park to speak to club president Rod Young who took time out from a working bee to speak about race day . . .

Poverty Bay Turf Club president Rod Young will get his wish.

When he met The Herald at Ashwood Park —where he has spent a lot of time recently — he said preparations for race day were almost complete.

“All we need is the weather.”

The Met Service long-range forecast is for a warm, but not hot day of 22 degrees for February 16.

Mr Young said the entire committee had been busy at Ashwood Park preparing for the club's big day.

“All we're trying to do is provide a day of racing for the community of Gisborne and the surrounding district.

“It's a great day for the family.”

Live music, locally-produced food and drink, entertainment, free entry for children, who also have their own activities and play area, are all components of the day, which is part of the Interislander Summer Festival race day series.

Fashionistas have just one week to put the finishing touches to their outfits. They could go home as winners through several “best dressed” competition categories — always one of the highlights of the day at Ashwood Park.

Another activity is the Charity Pony Gallop 2020, which results in the winner “racing” in Hawke's Bay — and possibly Abu Dhabi.

“Locals and visitors look forward to the meeting year after year. Everyone enjoys a summer day of racing at Makaraka,” said Mr Young.

“Loading up the car with a picnic for the family and making a day out of the races is a long-standing tradition around here.

“The various activities work well, people enjoy them.

“Last year we got about 3000 patrons and we hope for the same this year.

“We've had trainers comment that we get a bigger crowd than certain other meetings.

“We do pretty well for a small club.”

Pleased with condition of the racetrack

The business end of the day, the track, is in good condition.

It has been inspected by New Zealand racing officials and passed with flying colours.

“Progress is all good,” said Mr Young.

“It's getting plenty of water on it.

“We try to get the track up to a dead four or five on the day to give them the ideal racing surface.”

(According to New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing “dead” tracks rated 4 are tracks with give, on the better side of a genuine dead and dead tracks rated 5 are “genuine dead”.)

“Mick Gardner (track supervisor) does a pretty good job of that,” Mr Young said.

Last year trainer David Dallas gave the club high praise for how the track presented.

“He was very complimentary.”

With the big day still a week away, racing clubs can never rest easy, but Mr Young says indications are that Poverty Bay will get a good number of nominations.

The track conditions would attract trainers after some fields were down at recent Waikato and Bay of Plenty meetings because of track conditions.

Poverty Bay Turf Club works closely with Wairoa Racing Club who race on February 20 and 23.

“Wairoa provides a circuit for the trainers,” said Mr Young

Travel subsidies and the eight races offering prize money of $106,000 including $30,000 for the winner of the Poverty Bay Cup, are other attractions.

Trainers like the 1600-metre chute — the adjoining long straight where 1600m races begin — as it gives all horses a chance regardless of their barrier draw.

Among the trainers who are expected to bring horses, or have indicated they may do so are Rogerson Racing Stables, Kevin Myers, Ralph Manning , Michael Moroney and Pam Gerrard, Jamie Richards, Stephen Autridge, Karen Fursdon, Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen.

Race fans have a choice of hospitality options ranging from gazebos and marquees to the trackside Sunshine Bar and Ashwood Lounge, which offers a view from above, next to the members' viewing area.

Go to Poverty Bay Turf Club's Facebook page for more information or email info@experiencegisborne.co.nz

SUNSHINE AND SHADE: Race fans know to take cover from the sun when the Interislander Summer Festival of racing comes to Ashwood Park. Picture by Liam Clayton
SPORT OF KINGS: Summer racing at Makaraka draws the Gisborne sporting public and more casual fans looking for a great day out. Race day offers a full day of affordable entertainment with free entry for children under 17 and adult tickets from $5. Picture by Paul Rickard
BIG DAY AHEAD: Poverty Bay Turf Club committee members (from left) Mick Willock, president Rod Young and Graeme Torrie want Ashwood Park looking good for race fans tomorrow week. Picture by Paul Rickard