Historic change to horses’ birthdays

27 May 2021


Harness Racing New Zealand has hailed the decision to change horses’ birthdays as “a defining moment and a catalyst for change”.

Traditionally all racehorses in this country have all had their birthdays on August 1, from now on all standardbreds will have their birthdays on January 1.

The change was decided at a Special General Meeting at HRNZ’s Christchurch headquarters on Thursday, May 27. Representatives of more than 40 clubs were involved, either in person or via Zoom.

“There was unanimous approval for the idea right across the sport, we are thrilled all clubs have got behind this initiative,” says HRNZ Chief Executive Gary Woodham.”

Under the new system a horse born in January 2020 would become one on January 1 2021, and a horse born in November 2020 would become one on January 1, 2022.

The move mirrors a similar one made by Harness Racing Australia this year.

“We need to be in sync with Australia,” says Woodham, “to align our age-group racing.”

Now that the change has been made HRNZ will look at how it will impact on the racing programme here.

“We need to take a very hard look at what’s working and what is not,” says Woodham, “one immediate change could be that juvenile races are spread out over the year, rather than being condensed towards the end of the season as they are now.”

Woodham says benefits will include “extending the breeding season which promotes local stallions once the shuttle stallions have gone and stronger two-year-old racing from an animal welfare viewpoint.”

The racing and breeding seasons remain the same (Aug 1 – July 31).