Tide turns on race

VANITA PRASAD
Last updated 07:55 20/11/2012
KAreKare races

ACTION PACKED: The famous Karekare Beach Races, which deliver the excitement of horses thundering down the black sand have been postponed.

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One of Auckland's most picturesque horse races was stopped in its tracks just one week out from the start line.

The Karekare Horse Races were scheduled to take place this Saturday but have been postponed until March.

It's the first time in the event's 27-year history that it was scheduled to be held in spring, and the timing proved unpopular, primary organiser Caroline Grove says.

"The event is an icon because of the horses, and we didn't want to run with thin fields," she says.

"Unfortunately, clashing horse events, the lead-up to Christmas and some regular entries deciding their horses lacked condition after the winter led to the decision."

The Karekare resident is hoping the lack of entries is not a signal of the demise of beach horse racing.

"Holding horse races on the beach has long been a classic part of New Zealand life, yet it's getting harder to watch or participate in such events. It's important to get behind it and the community will be making a concerted effort to ensure the race is even bigger and better come March."

Karekare Horse Races committee member Kim Conway is hoping to get a field of 12 entrants for the revised event, which is a vital fundraiser for the community.

Fellow committee member Jacqui Madelin says the funds will go toward the area's surf club and upgrading Karekare School's toilets.

"They were secondhand when they were put in 20 to 30 years ago, so it's about time they were replaced."

Last year's event raised more than $15,000 for the surf club and school.

Ms Conway says the event, which was established by her horse-training father, Clyde Conway, is the only one left in Auckland.

"It started in Waiheke when they needed to have a fundraiser and it worked so well they decided to replicate it here," she says. "And when you team it up with Karekare's backdrop, it's pretty fabulous."

The Karekare mother of four is no stranger to competing and won the inaugural race 27 years ago while she was pregnant.

"I was about three-months pregnant with Gareth when I won the main race and I did a similar thing when I won a race pregnant with Llewellyn a few years later," she says.

Ms Conway says the date of the races is dependent on the getting a low tide and organisers have found a perfect day on March 23.

It will feature the races for hacks and ponies as well as food and craft stalls operated by community members.

"It's a whole-beach festival," Ms Conway says.

"We have the wacky hat competition, with eco-hat and children's categories, as well as kids' egg and spoon and sack races."

Go to karekare.org.nz for more information.

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