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The Race by Grins joins NZ’s richest races

The inaugural The Race by Grins winner Self Assured returns to scale - Photo: Trish Dunell
The inaugural The Race by Grins winner Self Assured returns to scale

Photo: Trish Dunell

The Race by Grins will join the thoroughbred code’s Karaka Million races and New Zealand Derby as the country’s richest races in 2023, with Waikato-Bay of Plenty Harness committed to a $1 million stake for the second edition of the race.

The inaugural running of the innovative race earlier this year, attracted some of the best standardbreds in Australasia to compete and was won by the Mark Purdon and Hayden Cullen-trained Self Assured, the charge of slot holders SENZ.

“We were really proud of what we achieved with the first edition of the race and we’re excited to build on that foundation and create a bigger and better event next year starting with the increase in prizemoney,” Cambridge Raceway CEO Dave Branch said.

The Race by Grins is the top billed race of the newly branded Grins Night of Champions, a nod to the Waipā district’s slogan, home of champions, which will take place on Friday April 14.

The first race of its kind in New Zealand, The Race by Grins is a slot race whereby 10 slots were sold securing the slot holders a spot in the race for three years. They then liaise with owners and trainers to fill their slots with independent deals done on the distribution of any prize money won.

The terms and conditions of The Race by Grins have also been amended.

“Last year Dunstan’s horse was withdrawn prior to the fields being drawn which was disappointing for everyone involved, so we want to avoid another situation like that,” Branch said.

The 2023 edition of The Race by Grins will have a pool of horses available from which slot holders can select a replacement for any horse withdrawn prior to acceptance time. There will also be one emergency drawn in the field.

Winning connections celebrate following Self Assured’s win in the inaugural The Race by Grin - Photo: Sean Peterson
Winning connections celebrate following Self Assured’s win in the inaugural The Race by Grin

Photo: Sean Peterson

While the increased prizemoney for The Race by Grins is cause for celebration, Branch said that the funding secured from Harness Racing New Zealand (HRNZ) was less than expected and meant that there could be no trotting slot race in 2023 as planned.

“We would have loved to also be announcing a trotting slot race but unfortunately the funding situation has made it impossible to do both races.

“As a club our priority is to support the inaugural slot holders who backed this concept from the beginning with the intention of getting the stake to $1 million in its second year.

“It’s disappointing as it is the next logical step for growing the event and something we were pushing hard for, but we will try again for 2024.”

Racegoers enjoy the after party at the 2023 The Race by Grins - Photo: Sean Peterson
Racegoers enjoy the after party at the 2023 The Race by Grins

Photo: Sean Peterson