Across The Ditch: Ozzie Kheir
Wealthy Melbourne businessman, Ozzie Kheir, admits that the racing bug has well and truly bitten him over the last decade.
As the land developer awoke last Sunday morning, the reality of his latest investment in Queensland stayer, Incentivise, had come up trumps with the horse now the new Caulfield and Melbourne Cup favourite.
However, while Kheir has invested much money into racing he is convinced that the best kindergarten of opportunity lay in New Zealand.
“I’ve had so much success, I’ve had so many good horses from New Zealand that we track as many race meetings and pedigrees as we can. And I’ve got to say, investments across the ditch have been extremely well placed,” he said.
Kheir, who owns a chain of hotels in Melbourne, reels off a list of New Zealand who’s who in recent times.
Kheir invested in champion race mare Verry Elleegant and his next investment, Sierra Sue who was luckless at Moonee Valley last Saturday, could add to his remarkable Spring Carnival when the mare tackles the group one Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes at Caulfield this weekend.
And while he is hoping to win back-to-back Cox Plates with Sir Dragonet and Verry Elleegant, his Derby team is exclusively purchased from trials and gallops in New Zealand.
Former Kiwi trainers, Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young, have three Derby hopefuls for Kheir.
“I know he’s put a lot of money into it – for instance Footlights cost over $300,000 and Forgot You was also a high-priced horse,” Busuttin said.
“I met Ozzie through winning the Victoria Derby with Sangster and our relationship has grown stronger each year.
“But don’t forget, for every good one that hits the headlines there’ll be a slow one following on,” he said.
Kheir and his staff have purchased a group two-winning mare named Tokorangi, who won the Waikato Guineas (2000m) at Te Rapa. Not raced since finishing midfield in the NZ Derby, Tokorangi is now in Melbourne with Flemington trainer Mike Moroney.
But Kheir’s tentacles stretch far and wide. His Melbourne Cup hopeful Sir Lucan struggled in the wet conditions at Doncaster on Saturday when contesting the St Leger Stakes.
However, the horse is certain to be flown to Australia to be trained by Gai Waterhouse.
Just to show the extent that Kheir and bloodstock manager, Matt Becker, go to in a bid to find the diamond in the rough … follow their purchase of a horse from the South Island called Fangio and will now be known as Signor Fangio in Australia.
The purchase of Signor Fangio came after watching the horse finish third on debut at Wingatui on Boxing Day last year with his ratings going through the roof.
The horse didn’t let the Kheir litmus test down when he snatched victory at his first appearance for nine-months in a maiden at Echuca, north-east of Melbourne.
While Signor Fangio is on the ground floor of racing, his potential – according to those close to the stable – suggest he could be a contender in the late spring-early summer in Victoria. Kheir is vitally aware of the New Zealand mantra of its trainers and breeders of “nothing matters when it comes to patience and time”.
“We’re hoping that he’ll measure up. He’s a progressive horse but hopefully he can take a few steps and be ready for a race over the Spring Carnival.”
For Ozzie Kheir, the man bitten by the racing bug all those years ago, some pretty relevant pay days await the successful land developer.