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Canstaff NZ were proud to be named as the main sponsors of one of New Zealand’s most prestigious juvenile races - the Sapling Stakes.

Last month saw Ashburton host two of New Zealand’s longest serving bastions of harness racing. The Hambletonian Classic and the New Zealand Sapling Stakes are held annually and considered integral cogs within the national racing circuit, with many winners progressing to the NZ Cup.

The Sapling Stakes is approaching 100 years of service, having first been run in 1919 when won by Doraldina, and has quite a following in the industry. Canstaff managing director, Matt Jones, has attended (followed) the event for the past 25 years and was excited to sponsor the esteemed event which was his introduction to horse racing many moons ago.

“The Sapling Stakes has been a prominent event on the NZ racing calendar for many years. It is the starting platform for many horses who have gone on to achieve great things and Canstaff feel honoured to be a part of promoting future champions via our local community of Ashburton,” said Jones.

NZ’s leading reinsman, Blair Orange, won the time-honoured event with debutant War Dan Delight, who strode past a brave Heisenberg inside the final 100 metres to win. This secured his fifth Sapling Stakes victory; earning him the title of most successful driver in the race’s long and storied history.

The Hambletonian saw a fitting result with the popular ownership combination from the Neumann Brothers who are from Ashburton and are longtime harness racing supporters, claiming victory in their own race (Neumann Tyres Bandag Hambletonian Classic) when Valloria continued the impressive start to his career by winning the Group Two feature.

“The Neumanns have been heavily involved in the sponsorship and promotion of this event for many years and it was fantastic to see them come away with their first Hambletonian win,” said Jones. “There was a great turn out of competitors this year Hambletonian Classic and let's hope for an even higher attendance next years Sapling Stakes. It really is an exciting opportunity to see up and coming talent, support the local community and is of course, also a great day out.”