Southland gallops starter Kerrin Price has given Gallop South's new Simtrack starting gates the thumbs up.
The former head of traffic police warmed to the gates over the past season and believed they were much more efficient and reliable than the old ones they replaced.
The gates were believed to be the only mobile set that could be transported in the country, being able to service 11 racetracks at considerable reduced cost to individual clubs, he said.
An experienced horseman himself by way of his involvement with the Birchwood Hunt, he believed the horses themselves were the big winners.
''I believe that we have experienced less bad horse behavior when they are being loaded with this new setup as they are more open and less claustrophobic but unfortunately horses in the south don't get the opportunity to trial with overhead stalls,'' Mr Price said.
The new mobile starting gates with hydraulic opening front gates offered whisper quiet starts and with progressive closing of the back gates made for ease of loading, particularly with a reluctant horse that was inclined to be a slow loader, he said.
''Currently, they are the only gates in New Zealand that are capable of being transported from course to course. There is the main set of 14 stalls with an additional set of six for the larger fields in the classic races.''
Mr Price pointed out the new gates were ''very manoeuvrable'' aligning the barrier ready to race and when being negotiated through gateways with the aid of a hand held remote control device to the steering system.
The new gates that were built in Adelaide were obtained by Gallop South being granted funding from a Gaming grant, Gallop South's general manager, Malcolm Little, said.
''Since the gates were used during the season, we have only had favourable feedback,'' he said.
''Initially there was some slight concern that hey were too quiet for horses accustomed to the clang of the old set but horses and riders soon adjusted to all that.''
Mr Little said Gallop South was striving to sell a sponsorship by way of advertising rights across the top of the gates, similar to the Christchurch set with Coupland Bakeries boldly displayed.
Officials, riders and connections of horses were relieved that the new gates had put an end to the frustrations of the old set that had reached their used by date.
- © Fairfax NZ News