Harness betting up in South

Edward Rennell
Edward Rennell
Southland and Otago trotting clubs are behind a national increase in betting turnover on harness racing.

The latest betting figures on harness racing for this season, calculated on all meetings until January 18, shows money wagered on harness racing in the two provinces is growing at a greater rate than in other regions.

More than $700,000 extra has been bet on harness racing in Otago compared to last season, an increase of 10%.

More than $4 million more than the previous season has been bet in Southland, a rise of 32.5%.

The results buck a trend in other regions where betting has decreased from the previous season.

Betting is down in Auckland, Waikato and Canterbury.

The Central Districts region is the only other area to show a lift in betting figures with more than $600,000 extra bet this season.

The strong figures in Otago and Southland have helped harness racing increase its national turnover figures.

''We were down about 5% on average for the first three months but we have clawed back where the average turnover per race is slightly up on last year,'' Harness Racing New Zealand chief executive Edward Rennell said.

Of most concern to HRNZ is that betting in the far north has declined.

Almost $3 million less has been bet on Auckland and Cambridge harness races, compared to last season.

''The big issue for us as a code is trying to increase the appeal in the North Island, which has dropped off,'' Rennell said.

Seven harness racing clubs operate in Otago with Forbury Park and Oamaru clubs holding the bulk of the province's racing. Both clubs have had betting increases of almost 7%.

Rennell expects Forbury Park's figures to continue to increase because of the focus the club has on late-season racing.

''Forbury is always stronger in the second half of the year with their autumn and winter racing.''

Three of the four remaining Otago clubs - Roxburgh, Central Otago and Tuapeka - are managed by the Southland-based Southern Harness Racing Organisation.

The group also administers all of Southland's harness racing clubs.

The positive turnover results are a tick of endorsement for the group and the office bearers of its member clubs.

''It's a tick for their stake structure and their programming down there. It's a tick for some of the changes we have implemented with the dates process,'' Rennell said

''There is an element of luck involved, in terms of the odd galloping meeting getting abandoned which helps on the day.''

''Southern Harness have had a very good year and it is encouraging.''


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