Fireworks aplenty in inaugural NZB Kiwi slot auction


28 Feb 2024

Fireworks aplenty in inaugural NZB Kiwi slot auctionSlot six – purchased by Ozzie Kheir for $700,000

There was no shortage of fireworks in the Karaka sale-ring on Tuesday evening at the inaugural NZB Kiwi slot auction, with all nine lots on offer far exceeding the $450,000 reserve.
The initial $3.5 million prizemoney for next year’s NZB Kiwi (1500m), with a $1 million bonus up for grabs, was enticing for prospective New Zealand and international buyers alike.
When bidding ended an hour later, the nine slots had sold for a total of $6,225,000 million, at an average price of $691,667. The first slot knocked down by auctioneer Cam Bray at $725,000 to Singapore businessman John Chew was actually the most expensive, while the lowest price was $675,000 for three slots.
NZTR Chief Executive Bruce Sharrock was understandably delighted with the outcome of the slot auction. "Tonight exceeded all expectations and sets a new standard for the New Zealand racing industry,” he said, while NZTR Chairman Cameron George said it was great to see international interest in the initial concept.
“It’s an outstanding result for the industry and we are really proud of the fact that people around the world were participating,” he said. “We are looking forward to the next 12 months and how we can make this race the greatest event in New Zealand racing.”
As each slot went up for sale, a selection of retired “hero racehorses” paraded in the Sir Patrick Hogan auditorium wearing a designer dress rug with the slot number on it. Group One darling Seachange was the first through the ring and bidding was spirited from the get-go, with an opening bid of $600,000 which quickly reached $700,000 before being knocked down at $725,000.
The next four lots had a distinct New Zealand flavour, with slot two going to the $675,000 bid of Kerri Spence Bloodstock and Clotworthy Racing and slot three knocked to Wexford Stables’ Lance O’Sullivan for $700,000.
Well-known owner and industry supporter Daniel Nakhle made sure he was in the mix when securing slot four for $675,000, while Te Akau Racing principal David Ellis ensured his ‘King of Karaka’ title was part of the action when his $675,000 bid bought slot five.
Australian businessman Ozzie Kheir has been a strong supporter of the New Zealand thoroughbred industry, sourcing many of his racehorses from this side of the Tasman, and he ensured there would be a trans-Tasman element to the NZB Kiwi when he secured slot six for $700,000.
Entain New Zealand took Kiwi punters on a whirlwind ride when securing a slot in last year’s A$20 million The Everest (1200m) and their representative I Wish I Win just came up short when runner-up to Think About It. They are now hoping to replicate that excitement on home soil after securing slot seven for $700,000.
Entain’s Cameron Rodger had been beaten to the punch on a number of previous slots, so was delighted to finally come out on top with just two more remaining.
“I was nervous,” Rodger said. “They were opening and going higher and faster than we ever dreamed of. We had to revise the strategy there. I had the CFO Lachlan Fitt next to me, so we had to make a few emergency budget increases. But we got there, so we are pretty happy.
“There were a great number of bidders early on from a different range. We didn’t want to be last, so that was the strategy, but the market found its price really well, so I think everyone will be pretty happy with how it turned out.”
Rodger said the process of filling the Entain slot had already begun. “We have had a look at who didn’t get one and we are probably going to start conversations as we speak and that is the beauty of a slot race, it gets you engaged and talking starts right from the dot. Hopefully we can have a few on our radar soon.”
Rodger was pleased with how the slot race concept has been received and he said that has been reinforced by the high level of interest in the auction.
“I think the action you saw today is a vote of confidence in the industry about where things are and where things are going,” he said. “That is important to us and we believe in the path that everyone is on at the moment, so bring on 2025, we can’t wait!”
Cambridge trainer Andrew Forsman is hoping eight is his new lucky number after paying $675,000 for his slot, while Cambridge Stud principals Brendan and Jo Lindsay were intent on securing the final slot of the night, and went to $700,000 to fulfil that.
The remaining five slots for the NZB Kiwi have been secured by Auckland Thoroughbred Racing, Waikato Thoroughbred Racing, RACE and the Canterbury Jockey Club, with New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing holding the final slot to be used for promotional purposes.
The NZB Kiwi Slot Auction Results
Aggregate: $6,225,000
Average: $691,667
Slot 1: John Chew - $725,000
Slot 2: Kerri Spence Bloodstock and Clotworthy Racing - $675,000
Slot 3: Wexford Stables - $700,000
Slot 4: Daniel Nakhle - $675,000
Slot 5: Te Akau Racing - $675,000
Slot 6: Ozzie Kheir - $700,000
Slot 7: Entain New Zealand - $700,000
Slot 8: Andrew Forsman - $675,000
Slot 9: Cambridge Stud - $700,000