The New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB) has released its 2017/18 racing calendar which will support better placement of domestic thoroughbred meetings and a further increase in Harness racing at both our premier venues on a Friday.

The calendar, which covers the period from 1 August 2017 to 31 July 2018, has been approved by the NZRB Dates Committee following extensive consultation with Racing Industry Organisations, Codes and Clubs. A total of 1,035 race meetings will be hosted, up eight from last year.

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing have further reduced the number of 3 meeting Saturdays from 11 to 4. Analysis has shown that moving the third meeting to other days of the week, typically Sundays, improves customer attraction to the domestic product and supports a schedule that maximises revenue from imported Australian racing on the biggest day of the week.

The number of Greyhound meetings increases by just one, but there will be up to eight hours of racing most Tuesdays - double last season.

There will be an additional 3 Friday nights with racing at both Addington and Alexandra Park, a move Harness Racing New Zealand believes will boost opportunities for both premier clubs.

While some of the changes to the 2017/18 calendar have an impact on a small number of racing clubs, NZRB estimates it will add $3.30 million net in benefits to the industry (made up of changes to NZRB and club costs and revenues), compared to rolling over the standard calendar from the previous season.

Over the past two years, NZRB has been working with the wider racing industry to develop a domestic racing calendar that maximises revenue, improves the quality and competitiveness of racing and optimises the cost of its delivery - the Optimise the Calendar project.

Optimise the Calendar is one of a number of key strategic initiatives currently being progressed - other activities include an automated fixed odds betting platform, forward-looking Customer and Channels strategies, and working with Government on the introduction of Racefields legislation.

All of these initiatives will deliver a significant lift in annualised net profit once fully implemented and transform NZRB to help build a long-term sustainable future for racing in New Zealand.

Here is a summary of the key dates, features and changes to the 2017/18 racing calendar:

• Thoroughbred Spring Racing commences at Hastings on Saturday 2 September 2017

• New Zealand Cup and Show Week in Christchurch will run from November 11 - 18 2017

• Ashburton Trotting Club Christmas meeting to be run on Sunday 24 December 2017

• Wellington Cup Day will be held on Saturday 20 January 2018

• Karaka Million Twilight Racing is on Saturday 27 January 2018

• Auckland Cup Week runs from March 3 to March 10 2018

• The Harness Jewels take place at Cambridge on June 2 2018

Printed 2017/18 racing calendar booklets will be available free from TAB retail outlets in August.