New race set for trotting meet

Ashburton Trotting Club president Peter Larkin.

The Ashburton Trotting Club’s Queens Birthday weekend meeting will feature a new race and revive an old favourite.

The race meeting this Sunday will run the inaugural race named after ex-club president Helen Pope.

The Helen Pope Stakes will be for the two-year-old pacing fillies.

Helen Pope was the first woman to become president of the Ashburton Trotting Club, she later went on to be the first woman on the board of Harness Racing New Zealand.

Mrs Pope was inducted into the Addington Hall of Fame and was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2014.

Ashburton Trotting Club president Peter Larkin said it was great to be able to honour Helen Pope and her achievements with the race.

Helen Pope.

“She is from one of the great racing families and her contribution to the industry has been immense.”

Mrs Pope was born into racing, her father Bill Doyle and grandfather were accomplished horsemen and Helen’s two sisters Denise Nyhan and Lyn Smith have also had considerable success over the years.

The meeting will also see the return of the Champion Stakes after more than 30 years since it was last run.

“The Champion stakes used to be one of the major races for three year old pacers, that was always run on Boxing Day but was discontinued in 1990.

“We hope to start running it again and build it up to its original prestige,” Mr Larkin said.

The meetings feature will be the Group 2 $50,000 Sapling Stakes, a race dating back to 1919, with Lordship, Inky Lord, Noodlum and Young Quinn among past winners. “We hope people come out and enjoy themselves, we usually get good weather over Queens Birthday weekend,” he said.

-By Daniel Tobin