Article written by Michael Guerin, from NZ Herald - Racing: Waikato feature Herbie Dyke gets big stake boost - NZ Herald
Racing: Waikato feature Herbie Dyke gets big stake boost
Waikato racing will put an exclamation mark on a golden year with its biggest race increasing to $600,000 to become the new standout weight-for-age event in the country.
The newly-former Waikato Thoroughbred Racing has announced the mammoth stake of the Herbie Dyke Stakes, the centrepiece of their Legend’s Day meeting at Te Rapa on February 10.
That is an increase of $150,000 on the $450,000 group 1 that Sharp N Smart won in February and $50,000 above the agreed stake with New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing.
The $600,000 will also be the second richest ever offered in the Waikato, bettered only by the $1 million New Zealand Derby which Te Rapa held this year because of the Ellerslie re-build.
“It is a huge stake and something we are tremendously excited about and proud of,” says WTR chief executive Andrew Castles.
“But we couldn’t do it without the continued and very generous support of the HS Dyke Trust.”
The Herbie Dyke will headline the meeting which will also boast the $400,000 BCD Group Sprint and the Ellis Classic for fillies but a new $350,000 innovation race, one of four spread around the country as part of stake increases aided by the new TAB/Entain partnership.
The new race will be for horses who were maidens at the start of this season and will have qualifying races run around the north, the majority at Te Rapa.
That means the top four races alone at the February 10 meeting will have combined stakes of over $1.5 million, the zenith of what has been an incredible last year for racing in the region.
Te Rapa have played an enormous role in picking up the slack from other tracks unavailability over the last two years and have already hosted the Railway, NZ Derby and Great Northern Steeples and Hurdles, all usually run at other venues.
Off the track the formation of Waikato Thoroughbred Racing puts the three major clubs in the region in a far better position to make crucial strategic decisions about the future of venues and racing in the province.
The boosted Herbie Dyke fits perfectly into the summer calendar as one of the few races all season that could attract all levels of the equine superstars available.
While it has obvious appeal to the proven weight-for-age horses, Sharp N Smart used it this year as his final lead-up to winning the New Zealand Derby three weeks later, a path almost certain to be tried again.
It also comes two weeks after the new $1 million Karaka Millions four-year-old race on January 27 which could attract the likes of Legarto, Prowess and Pier at 1600m with the Herbie Dyke giving them the chance to step up to 2000m and compete for $1.6 million before, or without need to, heading to Australia.
The trainers of the elite four-year-old are all already mentioning the new Karaka race as a target changer and with the Herbie Dyke and the Bonecrusher NZ Stakes at Ellerslie a few weeks, New Zealand finally has serious races that can compete with the same time frame in Australia.
They could even see Australian-trained gallopers crossing the Tasman to target at least two if not all three of the rich targets but still with time to return to Australia for The Championships in Sydney.
Nominations for the Herbie Dyke will close on December 12.
LEGEND’S DAY AT TE RAPA
- Meeting date: February 12
- $600,000 Herbie Dyke Stakes, group 1
- $400,000 BCD Group Sprint, group 1
- Ellis Classic, group 2 (stake to be confirmed)
- New $350,000 Innovation race for horses who were maidens at start of season