Southern Hemisphere’s Richest 3YO Race Headlines Enhanced Summer Carnival
The future of New Zealand racing is set to ignite next summer, with New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR), TAB New Zealand and Entain combining forces to launch the Southern Hemisphere’s richest three-year-old race – ‘The NZB Kiwi’. Sponsored by New Zealand Bloodstock (NZB), the inaugural Thoroughbred slot race will headline a major revamp of the New Zealand summer racing calendar next year.
The NZB Kiwi will become one of the major highlights of a newly established ‘Champions Day’ that will feature more than $9 million in total prizemoney in year one, climbing to $10 million in year two. Held on the second Saturday of March at Ellerslie Racecourse, Champions Day will also include the Trackside New Zealand Derby and three other iconic Group 1 races, positioning the meeting as a pinnacle event on New Zealand’s racing calendar.
Champions Day forms part of the new summer Thoroughbred racing calendar that will boast a series of truly world-class races and meetings, offering more than $23.8 million in stakes across 51 black-types races from January to early April.
NZTR Chairman Cameron George believes the revamped summer carnival will attract the best horses, and the best jockeys, from across New Zealand and Australia, initiating a monumental phase of growth for the industry.
“We will all look back on this once-in-a-generation opportunity and reflect on the period of transformation we have embarked on. We have an opportunity to change the game for our industry and its participants by embracing these changes, while sustaining the future of our sport.”
“We’ll be highlighting our athletes, both horse and human, while creating a true spectacle to showcase their elite skills, on our top tracks, consistently throughout the summer period,” George said.
A highlight of the summer programme will be The NZB Kiwi - a new three-year-old 1500m slot race, which will be the richest race ever held in New Zealand and will carry black-type status. Fourteen slots will be available to graduates of NZB Sales, as well as horses bred here, creating a true destination race for star New Zealand-bred horses from around the world.
NZB Managing Director Andrew Seabrook is thrilled to be a part of the country's richest ever race.
“When we were initially approached by NZTR to be the sponsor of New Zealand's first Thoroughbred slot race, we didn’t hesitate to give it our full support.”
“We loved the concept and the direction that racing is heading in at the moment. To have such positive news just under a week out before the yearling sales at Karaka adds an extra layer of optimism to our industry. “
“We think it’s a fantastic initiative and it’s certainly an exciting time to be racing horses in New Zealand,” Seabrook said.
The race will carry stakes prizemoney of at least $3.5 million in 2025, increasing to $4.5 million by 2027, making it the richest race in the Southern Hemisphere for three-year-olds. An additional $1 million in bonuses will be available each year to the three placegetters of The NZB Kiwi, if they have won one of a number of iconic New Zealand and Australian lead up races. With the bonus component, the winner of The NZB Kiwi could take home $1.8 million in total prizemoney.
NZTR Chief Executive Officer, Bruce Sharrock, recognises the reputation of the New Zealand industry on the global stage.
“We know that the New Zealand Thoroughbred breeding industry is world-class and, judging by the popularity of Kiwi-bred equine athletes in places like Australia and Hong Kong, so does the rest of the globe,” Sharrock said.
“The NZB Kiwi gives the cream of the New Zealand-bred crop a chance to return home and take on the best locally trained horses for what will effectively be a world championship for New Zealand-bred three-year-olds over 1500m.”
Lachlan Fitt, CFO and Deputy CEO of Entain Australia and New Zealand, commented on the strategic placement of The NZB Kiwi in New Zealand’s wider summer racing calendar.
“This race is ideally placed in the calendar in early March and gives the country’s top three-year-old sprinter-milers a terrific grand final to be a part of on the same day as the Trackside New Zealand Derby.”
“We expect the competition will be red hot between Slot Holders to secure one of those outstanding Kiwi-bred sprinter-milers and we look forward to participating in the innovative slot auction next month.”
The new-look summer programme is also heralded by the creation of a two-day Karaka Millions Carnival. The Carnival will bookend the famous NZB National Yearling Sales Series, which attracts bloodstock buyers and industry participants from all over the globe.
The Group 1 Railway, which will now be held on Day 1 of the Karaka Millions Carnival, will also form part of a new Super Sprint Series, with a $500,000 bonus for horses that perform well across the three New Zealand legs (the Telegraph Handicap, the Railway Stakes, and the BCD Sprint), as well as a number of soon-to-be-named races in Australia later in the Autumn carnival. This bonus scheme will sit alongside the Summer Middle Distance Series, which was established earlier in 2023 and will also be worth $500,000 next season.
Bruce Sharrock said the goal was to take the well-established Karaka Millions race meeting and supercharge it through the creation of a two-day extravaganza, as well as the addition of a Group 1 race to the opening day of the Carnival.
“We’ll be able to showcase New Zealand racing to the world with prestigious Group 1 racing, complementing the incredibly strong feature racing at our premier Ellerslie track,” he said.
TAB NZ Chief Executive Officer and Chair of the TAB NZ Dates Committee, Nick Roberts, said NZTR, Entain and TAB NZ had worked collaboratively to deliver a programme that highlights New Zealand’s most glamorous events.
“Today’s game-changing announcement by NZTR would not have been possible if the Minister for Racing, Rt. Hon. Winston Peters, had not established his reform programme in response to the 2018 Messara Report”, Roberts said.
“Our strategic partnering arrangement with Entain has given NZTR the funding it needs to shine the spotlight on the strength of the New Zealand thoroughbred industry to Kiwi, Australian and global audiences. The new racing calendar is critical for ensuring that racing’s popularity grows to enable a thriving and sustainable domestic industry.”
In total, the revised summer racing programme will see an injection of over $9 million in stakes and bonuses made available in 2025 vs current levels, climbing to an additional $12.7 million in total stakes and bonuses by 2026 during this 14-week period from 26 December 2024 through to 31 March 2025.
View The NZB Kiwi Digital Guide here.
To view more information about The NZB Kiwi and the Slot Auction, visit nztr.co.nz/the-kiwi
Registrations of interest for Slot Holders for The NZB Kiwi are now open, with an auction for a number of slots to be held on Tuesday 27 February at NZB’s Karaka Sales Centre. Slot Holders will be required to make a three-year commitment to The NZB Kiwi. Register your interest via email at [email protected].
Revamped summer calendar detail (from 2024/25), including a breakdown of individual stakes increases by race and year allocated is available to view here.
Key changes in the revamped summer carnival:
New Year’s Day – 1 January 2025 (Ellerslie Racecourse)
- The Group 3 Concorde Handicap moves from Karaka Millions Day to New Year’s Day, swapping with the Group 1 Railway Stakes. The conditions of the Concorde will also be amended to SWP (from Handicap)
4 January 2025 (RACE Awapuni)
- Addition of the Group 3 Anniversary Handicap that will move from RACE Trentham
11 January 2025 (RACE Trentham)
- Addition of the Group 1 Thorndon Mile, creating a two-week gap between the Thorndon Mile and the Aotearoa Classic on Karaka Millions Day One
- The Group 1 Levin Classic will remain on this day, but will see its distance reduced to 1400m (from 1600m), while the Group 1 Telegraph Handicap will also retain its place on this day
18 January 2025 (RACE Trentham)
- Remains headlined by the Group 3 Wellington Cup, Group 3 Desert Gold Stakes and the NZTR innovation race, the Remutaka Classic
Karaka Carnival Day One – 25 January 2025 (Ellerslie Racecourse)
- Remains as a six-race twilight meeting headlined by the $1 million TAB Karaka Millions 2YO, the $1.5m TAB Karaka Millions 3YO, the $1 million Elsdon Park Aotearoa Classic and the Group 2 Westbury Classic
- Addition of the Group 1 Railway Stakes, bringing the excitement and exposure of Group 1 racing to the Karaka Carnival
Karaka Carnival Day Two – 1 February 2025 (Ellerslie)
- The newly-created second day of the Karaka Carnival will feature the Group 3 Almanzor Trophy, which will move back a week from its traditional date of Karaka Millions Day
- One of NZTR’s innovation races, The Rangitoto Classic, will move to this date from the first weekend in March
- A number of other black-type and feature races will be added to the Ellerslie program, with details to be announced in the coming months
- The Taranaki feature day will continue to be run on 1 February 2025, featuring the Taranaki Cup, Taranaki Classic and Taranaki Oaks Prelude
8 February 2025 (Te Rapa Racecourse)
- Addition of the Group 2 Waikato Guineas, which will move from its current mid-week location in late January. This change will improve the spacing between the Karaka Millions 3YO and the Waikato Guineas, and will see the Waikato Guineas run two weeks prior to the Group 2 Avondale Guineas on 22 February 2025
15 February 2025 (Matamata Racecourse)
- The Matamata meeting will move forward a week from its current date, with the program remaining unchanged. This movement will improve the spacing of the feature 2YO races at Matamata between the Karaka Carnival and the Group 1 Sistema Stakes in March
22 February 2025 (Ellerslie – Avondale Guineas)
- Moving back a week, effectively swapping places with the Matamata meeting. On this date, the Group 2 Avondale Guineas will now be run two weeks after the Group 2 Waikato Guineas and will retain its two week gap to the Group 1 New Zealand Derby
- The Group 1 Otaki WFA Classic meeting will continue to take place on this day at Otaki
1 March 2025 (Wingatui Racecourse)
- Becomes a newly created feature day for the South Island featuring a number of black-type races, as well as the Southern Mile Final. Further details on this program will be provided at a later date
Champions Day – 8 March 2025 (Ellerslie Racecourse)
- Consolidation of Auckland’s two-day March carnival to create a pinnacle day of New Zealand racing, featuring four Group 1 races – the New Zealand Derby, the New Zealand Stakes, the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes and the Sistema Stakes
- Champions Day will also feature the newly introduced slot race, The NZB Kiwi, which will be run over 1500m for the best three-year-olds in the country.
- Supporting the Group 1 action on Champions Day will be the Group 2 Auckland Cup, Group 3 Sunline Vase, Group 3 King’s Plate and the Entain-NZB Insurance Pearl Series Final
23 March 2025 (RACE Trentham)
- New Zealand Oaks Day moves back one week from its current position, maintaining a two week gap with the New Zealand Derby. The program of the day remains unchanged