Riverton race day to kickstart the new year

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A NEW venture for the Riverton Racing Club, its first New Year’s meeting will be held on New Year’s Day.

Free for under 18s and $10 for adults, half the entry proceeds will go to the Southland Charity Hospital.

Riverton Racing Club president Barry Leith said organisers hoped for good weather and good crowds for the gallops.

The donation to the hospital was to be proactive, he said.

“It affects everybody, no matter where you live in Southland.”

He said a trophy had been donated from Invercargill’s McLeay Jewellers and the stakes had increased, for every race except the main race, and set to $15,000.

“We’ve actually injected money of our own into the race to bump the stakes up.”

That was to encourage people to attend and horses to be entered.

It was the investment of money into the Riverton Racecourse which halted the threat of its closure, he said.

To qualify for the meeting, irrigation was installed on the track for the first time.

“It’s a guaranteed racing surface, a safe racing surface.”

Mr Leith said there was no concern of closure now.

“There were closures of racing tracks across New Zealand and we were fortunate to not be one of those.”

The club had been proactive in upgrading the track and facilities, including new stables and jockeys’ rooms.

“We’re trying to insure our future.”

For the New Year’s meeting there would be free activities for children, such as pony rides and mini jeeps, as well as food and drink vendors.

It would be the first of four events, which would end in May, at the Riverton Racecourse and replaced an event usually held in May.

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