Traditionally run on New Year’s Day, 2023 marks the first time this popular race has been run on Boxing Day. In its 25th year, the Dunstan Horsefeeds Stayers Championship is made up of 16 qualifying races where horses earn points so that they can make the field for the 2400m $125,000 final which is to be run at Pukekohe Park on Tuesday as part of the Boxing Day Races.
The series is for progressive stayers with the winner of the final being exempt from the ballot in March’s Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup – with the big race returning to Ellerslie in 2024.
The Bruce Wallce & Grant Cooksley-trained, Trust In You, was the highest points earner through the qualifying races and takes his place in Tuesday’s final ridden by last season’s premiership-winning jockey, Michael McNab.
One to watch is Sporting Chance, trained by Cambridge based Andrew Forsman, with retired co-trainer Murray Baker in the ownership. In form jockey, Craig Grylls, who took out four of the nine races when last oncourse at Pukekohe Park, is aboard.
ATR Executive General Manager – Racing & Operations, Craig Baker, said the field assembled for this year’s running is of good quality.
“This year’s final is set to be hotly contested and there are several strong contenders in the mix.
“It’s also pleasing to see the final return to an Auckland Thoroughbred Racing venue in Pukekohe Park after Te Rapa kindly hosted the race for us in 2023.
“I wish the connections of the runners well for Tuesday’s event and, of course, the best of luck in the Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup for our eventual winner.”
You can’t write about the Dunstan Horsefeeds Stayers Championship without acknowledging the owner/founder of Dunstan Horsefeeds, David Smith. David, through his company, has not just been a great supporter of this series but is a significant contributor to the industry here in New Zealand as well.
He comments, “It’s been a terrific partnership. We’ve loved watching some of New Zealand’s best stayers come through the series and not just from the big stables either.
“We’ve had an enduring loyal support base from New Zealand trainers and breeders and we’re pleased to be able to give back to the industry. We are a New Zealand-owned company which buys chiefly New Zealand grain and supports New Zealand arable farmers.
“We are heartland Kiwi and we feel sponsorship of these series are a neat fit for us. We are proud of the way the stayers championship has developed over the past 25 years as a way of nurturing our young staying talent and providing a platform to develop the next class of Cup champions.”
David will be oncourse at Pukekohe Park to witness the Dunstan Feeds Stayers Championship Final and we hope you’ll join him in cheering the field home.