A Message from NZTR CEO Bruce Sharrock

NZTR | Bruce Sharrock
1 February 2024

The past year brought significant change to the New Zealand Thoroughbred industry, marked by enthusiasm and optimism under the Entain/TAB NZ Strategic Partnering Arrangement. As we enter the New Year, anticipation builds for a pivotal few months in both racing and breeding. 

Last week kicked off with a groundbreaking announcement – the introduction of New Zealand's first Thoroughbred slot race, The NZB Kiwi, alongside impactful changes to the Summer Carnival. The additional funding has been earmarked for boosting wagering and participation, with the summer racing period identified as the prime opportunity. Here are the key highlights you need to know.

Get ready for The NZB Kiwi, the Southern Hemisphere's richest race for three-year-olds. Starting in the 2024/2025 season, the 1500m slot race sponsored by New Zealand Bloodstock, will unfold at Auckland's Ellerslie Racecourse every March during the newly established Champions Day.

What sets The NZB Kiwi apart? It's all about the slot race concept. Ahead of the March 2025 showdown, Slot Holders will be selecting their contenders, injecting excitement into the New Zealand racing scene. These horses will look to contest a staggering $4.5 million – in a truly high-stakes competition.

And here's the twist – scoring a slot is no ordinary feat. You'll need to bid at the auction hosted at NZB’s Karaka Sales Centre, with a starting price of $450,000 (reserve). That covers your slot entry fees for the first three years of the race.

The NZB Kiwi is a celebration of New Zealand's exceptional breeding industry, showcasing the cream of the crop among three-year-olds. Eligible horses must be bred in New Zealand or bought at official NZB Sales – National Yearling Sales Series (January), National Weanling Sale (May), or Ready to Run Sale of Two-Year-Olds (November). Once you secure your slot, you decide which horse to back, regardless of its training location. Just make sure to handle the transportation arrangements.

For those eager to be a Slot Holder, registrations are open now. Circle February 27 on your calendar for the auction at NZB's Karaka Sales Centre. Committing to The NZB Kiwi means a three-year journey with increasing prize money. Express your interest by emailing [email protected]

The enhanced summer racing period in New Zealand promises an exhilarating series of world-class events, covering all major regions. Over a 14-week span from December 26, 2024, to March 31, 2025, more than 51 Group and Listed races will unfold, with stakes and bonuses soaring by $9.1 million in the upcoming 2024/25 season. But that's not all – there's a further $3.6 million increase planned for the 2025/26 season, bringing the total stakes and bonus boosts to a whopping $12.7 million over two years. 

The strategic focus is on elevating existing assets and races, introducing new racing concepts, and making selective investments in headline races, with all clubs and participants playing a crucial role.

We see these changes as a breath of fresh air for the New Zealand racing scene, offering us an unprecedented opportunity to proudly showcase our talent on the grand stage and explore avenues that were previously uncharted in our industry. 

It's a chance to elevate the prominence of our domestic summer racing carnival, not just within our borders but also on the radars of enthusiasts throughout Australasia and even globally. We thank Entain’s leadership team, Lachlan Fitt, Cameron Rodger and Jess Meech, as well as TAB NZ’s Anna Stove (Interim Chair), Nick Roberts (CEO), and Board for being a key force behind these game-changing transformations. We also extend gratitude towards NZB, for recognising our vision and coming on board as the inaugural sponsor for the industry’s most lucrative race yet. 

What makes these shifts even more exciting is the prospect of attracting new faces to the racing world. The creation of key events is not just about thrilling races; it's about drawing in a diverse audience and keeping them hooked with a high-quality calendar. This strategy aims to enhance customer retention, subsequently boosting wagering activity and overall industry funding beyond the minimum guaranteed funding period. It's a win-win situation for everyone involved, and we all have a pivotal role to play in driving this positive momentum.

Now, more than ever is the perfect time for everyone involved in the racing community to step into the limelight and make a significant impact. This is a transformative moment, an opportunity for each participant to contribute to substantial change, turn the dial, and increase opportunities for growth within the industry. 



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