Te Akau Secures NZB Kiwi Slot

Date: 28 Feb 2024

Te Akau Secures NZB Kiwi Slot

Te Akau Racing has secured entry for three years to the richest ever horse race held in New Zealand.

A field of 14 horses will contest the inaugural $3.5 million New Zealand Bloodstock (NZB) Kiwi for three year olds over 1500m,  It will be staged on Saturday 8 March next year (2025) at Ellerslie on the newly minted "Champions' Day", before increasing to $4 million in 2026 and $4.5 million in 2027.

There is also a total of $1 million in bonuses for the first three home if they have won one of the designated lead-up races - the winner receiving an additional $600,000 if they have won one of these lead up races, second receives $250,000 and third $150,000 in year one.

For Te Akau, who bought their ‘slot’ at auction during the NZ Derby draw and NZB Kiwi function on Tuesday night at the Karaka Sales Complex, it means horses they purchased from Karaka, or NZ bred horses, that are now two-year-olds in the stable are eligible, while yearlings meeting the same criteria will be entitled in 2026.

Following the auction Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM said: “We’re very happy to have secured a slot, having come here not really knowing what to expect in terms of how the auction would play out, I think it was a mystery to everyone involved to be fair.

“We had a game plan, but it had to be a little flexible. We had talked about it and given the Te Akau Racing success, with Mark (Walker) and Sam (Bergerson) and the whole team, we were definitely taking a slot home for our owners.

“The figure found its equilibrium well above the starting bid for $450,000 and what that says is that Australians and New Zealanders, in particular, support this new innovation and believe in it.

“We’re all very excited about what Entain, which partners the NZ TAB, New Zealand Bloodstock and New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing are doing for this industry.

“We may have a number of contenders for the NZB Kiwi race, but we’ve got a very good process that we’ve already decided on. It will be very transparent and there will be a third independent party involved.

“So every owner and every horse in the Te Akau stable knows that they are equally considered and there will be a judgement made on merit.”

In summary Te Akau principal David Ellis CNZM said: “The slot prices at auction underlined the support and confidence in the industry that we haven’t had for a long time.

“We’ve seen how much industry marketing and excitement surrounds the Everest race in Australia, so we’re onboard with that here in New Zealand now, and the whole slot concept allows not only entities like Te Akau to get involved as slot holders but we also saw groups of people buying slots as well.

“The more people we can bring into a race like the NZB Kiwi the better and I see it as another progressive step for enabling the whole racing industry to thrive.

“The race is going to be truly Australasian, with NZ bred horses and those bought at Karaka being eligible and the prize money is very enticing.

“It creates more eyes on thoroughbred racing in New Zealand, brings in other people outside the industry and drive the hype, excitement, and thrill of horse racing.

“I know myself and people continually tell me that there is no other thrill like being involved in ownership of a winning racehorse.

“Added to that, and with Entain’s involvement, we now have some very good administrators and direction in the New Zealand Thoroughbred industry. New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing's Chairman Cameron George and his team kick-started the change and the momentum is just wonderful.

“Plus, we now have a world-class new racecourse at Ellerslie, where the Derby is about to be held and this race in the future, and that certainly helps the professionalism of our racing internationally.”


Before the NZB Kiwi ‘slot’ auctions, draws were done for the $1 million Trackside NZ Derby (Gr. 1, 2400m) this Saturday at Ellerslie.

Ascend The Throne (3 g Savabeel – Thee Achiever, by O’Reilly) – Opie Bosson; barrier 10

At just his fourth start, Ascend The Throne was a very good winner of the Waikato Guineas (Gr. 2, 2000m) on 31 January at Te Rapa.

He had lengthened stylishly to win the Maiden 2000 metres on 10 January at Matamata, and made the step up with aplomb.

Most recently, he made big inroads from back in the field for fourth to Derby favourite Orchestral (Savabeel) in the Avondale Guineas (Gr. 2, 2100m) on 17 February at Ellerslie. 

Owned by the Te Akau 2022 Stallion Breeding Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM), Ascend The Throne was purchased by David Ellis CNZM for $575,000 at the 2022 Karaka Book 1 Sale, from the draft of Milan Park.

“He had to go back from the draw in the Avondale Guineas, no offence but some slower horses got in his way and he didn’t get rolling when he needed to,” said Te Akau racing manager Reece Trumper.

“But he probably finished the race off stronger than anything (fourth).”

NZ TAB fixed odds: $10.00

What You Wish For (3 g Embellish – Grand Wish, by Smart Missile) – Joe Doyle; barrier 5

Impressive winning last April as a two-year-old, What You Wish For came from last for fourth in fastest last 600m (34.9) in the Waikato Guineas (Gr. 2, 2000m) on 31 January, before a sub-par performance in the Avondale Guineas (Gr. 2, 2100m) on 17 February at Ellerslie.

Owned by the Te Akau Wish & Win Racing Partnership (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM), What You Wish For was purchased as a yearling by David Ellis CNZM for $60,000 at the 2022 Karaka Book 1 Sale, from the draft of Cambridge Stud.

“He’s a horse that enjoys routine and the (one-hour) delay to the Avondale Guineas upset him a lot,” said Te Akau racing manager Reece Trumper. 

“He covered more ground than anything else in the Waikato Guineas, beforehand, and he was able to beat some very good horses.

“His work on Saturday, between races, was really good. Opie (Bosson) gave him the tick of approval and said that we should be heading towards this race.”

NZ TAB fixed odds: $41.00


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