Mammoth Stakes' Injection for NZ Racing

Date: 15 Jun 2023

Mammoth Stakes' Injection for NZ Racing

 

NZ Herald's Michael Guerin reports:

 

Thoroughbred racing is getting the greatest stake money boost in its history, with over $20 million more up for grabs at New Zealand galloping meetings next season.

Code bosses claim the mammoth cash injection is sustainable and could increase further in the next few seasons.

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing announced the increases at the Karaka sales complex today, with $20.3 million extra to be paid out to owners, trainers and jockeys next season, an increase of 29 per cent on this season to take the total stakes to $90.8 million.

That could be embellished further by clubs like Auckland Thoroughbred Racing adding even more to their stakes, which they plan to do year-on-year starting next year.

While stakes will be increased at all levels, among the big-ticket items announced is a new $1 million four-year-old race on Karaka Million night, open to all horses, not just those Karaka Million eligible.

There will also be four new $350,000 races to be held at the carnivals at Riccarton, Trentham, Te Rapa and Ellerslie, while new $100,000 finals will be held at three new synthetic tracks at Cambridge, Awapuni and Riccarton.

Group 1 races at the biggest meetings will now be for a minimum of $400,000, Group 2 races at $175,000 and Group 3s at $120,000.

The regions aren't left out either as the Southern Mile Series Final will increase from $100,000 to $200,000.

While the bulk of the new money comes from thoroughbred racing's share of the Entain sign-on payment, for taking over the running of the New Zealand TAB, NZTR will also dip into their reserves, believed to be over $20 million, to frontload next season's stakes.

NZTR chief executive Bruce Sharrock says the organisation has the confidence to do that as they believe the code's TAB turnover and therefore returns will grow under Entain's management and NZTR want to stimulate growth as soon as possible.

There is also the possibility of more dramatic increases inside the next 18 months if geo-blocking - restricting betting with overseas betting agencies - becomes law, as that would trigger another payment from Entain to racing and sport believed to be worth another $100 million.

“We realise today's announcement is a very important one for the industry and we want it to spark investment in ownership, breeding and all other sectors of our code,” says Sharrock.

“We wanted to make sure all regions and levels of racing are included so this money is being spread evenly.”

The increases are an enormous boost to the thoroughbred industry which has been under financial strain for years as costs increased and infrastructure improvement stalled, while industry sustainability was threatened by a reduction in this season's forecast TAB payout.

But Sharrock says money alone won't change thoroughbred racing and while NZTR plan more infrastructure work, education and a concentration on horse welfare, the real responsibility for the code's future lies with its participants.

“That responsibility falls on everybody, from licence holders to clubs,” says Sharrock.

“We need to raise our levels of professionalism, from appearance, to communication, to the accountability of our clubs and how we present our product.

“That is on all of us. We are stepping into a new era and we want everybody to think about what that means for them.”

The new stakes schedules come into effect on August 1 and is divided into two terms: a peak season of August 26 to April 6, with stakes to be lower in the off-peak four months when many of the better horses aren't racing.

 

Where the money is going: NZTR's new stakes structure

Total: Stakes rising from $70.5 million this season to $90.8 million next season.

New races:

* $1 million 4yo race, open 1600m, Karaka Million night.

* Four $350,000 races at top carnivals.

* Three $100,000 races split among our all-weather tracks.

* Southern Mile Final increases from $100,000 to $200,000.

Iconic and Premier meetings minimums:

Group 1s: $300,000 to $400,000; Group 2s: $140,000 to $175,000; Group 3s: $100,000 to $120,000; Listed races: $80,000 to $90,000; Minimums: From $50-$60,000 to $65,000.

Feature meeting minimums:

Group 1s: $400,000, Group 2s: $150,000, Group 3s: $100,000, Listed: $80,000

Peak season (August 26-April 6): Open races: $50,000, Other races: $40,000, Maidens: $25,000.

Off-peak: Open races: $40,000, Other races: $35,000, Maidens: $20,000.

Industry meetings minimums:

Summer twilights: All races to $25,000.

Peak season: Open races $25,000, all other races rise from $14,000 to $18,500.

Off-peak: Open races $22,000, all other races to $17,000 (new lowest NZ stake).

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