Early restart in New Zealand at unique ‘dual-purpose’ racecourse
With a population of 24,300, Pukekohe – about 40km south of Auckland on state highway 22 – is the 24th largest urban area of New Zealand.
The town also houses a unique racecourse as Pukekohe Park gives new meaning to the idea of a ‘dual-purpose’ venue as a facility for both horse racing and motor racing.
Indeed, it is better known for the latter, having hosted the New Zealand Grand Prix as recently as 2000 and still hosting major car events. Think Aintree in days of yore, albeit minus Becher’s Brook.
A 1,900-metre turf oval plus sand training tracks sit in the middle of the motor circuit; the sports share a grandstand. On Saturday June 20, however, equine disciplines will prevail after the good news that horse racing in New Zealand will resume earlier than scheduled with the Counties Racing Club hosting a racecard at Pukekohe.
Such has been New Zealand’s relative success in combating COVID-19 that the decision was taken even before prime minister Jacinda Ardern ended New Zealand’s lockdown this week with no active cases.
The New Zealand racing authorities had scheduled a restart for July 1 – but now the Canterbury Jockey Club meeting at Riccarton in Christchurch originally programmed for Friday July 3 has also been brought forward to Saturday June 27.
“We are delighted we can resume earlier than originally expected,” said Bernard Saundry, chief executive of NZTM (New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing).