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Racing Club Raises Minimum Stakes to $10,000


Auckland Racing Club Raises Minimum Stakes to $10,000, Creating New National Benchmark

Greater Financial Incentives Will Attract More Race Starters and Strengthen Industry, says Club Chairman

AUCKLAND, 12 February 2004 - The Auckland Racing Club has today lifted minimum stakes for all races at Ellerslie, including maidens and jumping races, to $10,000. The new national benchmark is double the $5000 minimum stakes requirement for any race in the country as set by the industry governing body, New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Inc. The previous minimum stakes at Ellerslie were $7,000.

According to Auckland Racing Club Chairman, Lyn Stevens QC, the move is a significant boost to owners and trainers in these classes. "We feel that the Auckland Racing Club must take a leadership position within the industry", he said. "Trends in Australia and around the world indicate that there is a very clear correlation between raising the stakes and increasing the number of starters per race. Bigger fields lead to greater betting, which in turn leads to even higher stakes. Consequently, by increasing the financial incentives to race, we are providing greater certainty and confidence for those industry players who really need it."

The single biggest increase in stakes for some years, the new minimum level reinforces Ellerslie's position as the premier racing venue and will be funded through sponsorship and interest income. "No other club in New Zealand has set such a high benchmark for all races. The increase also brings us that much closer to our major Australian counterparts," said Mr Stevens.

Government welcomes move

The Minister for Racing, the Hon. Damien O'Connor, today welcomed the announcement stating that it was not only good for Ellerslie, but for the New Zealand racing industry as a whole. "Raising the stakes at the bottom end is just as important as lifting them at the top end, so all racehorse owners have a realistic expectation of a return on their investment. The challenge is for other clubs to follow the lead and lift their stakes also."

"The Auckland Racing Club should be congratulated for setting the highest minimum stake benchmark in the country. The increase cements the club's status as the country's flagship club and lays a great foundation for its future," said Mr O'Connor.

Applause from industry partners

Guy Sargent, Chairman of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, said that there had been concern about the minimum level of stakes nationally for some time, especially for entry level races such as maidens. "This announcement by the Auckland Racing Club far exceeds our expectations. It is a very positive sign to see the major metropolitan club in New Zealand take such a decisive move in encouraging new owners into the industry. We applaud their leadership," he said.

Michael Martin, CEO of the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders Association, said that the initiative will greatly hearten horse breeders and owners. "The move should be followed by other clubs if the racing industry is to consolidate and grow the number of owners and breeders who are vital to its ongoing success," he said.

First step in implementing strategic plan

Mr Stevens says the Auckland initiative is the first step towards fulfilling one of the key objectives in the Club's strategic plan, which is to increase stake levels by between $3 and $4 million over a 5-6 year period. "The strategic plan is designed to achieve a quantum lift in returns to stakeholders, including owners, trainers and breeders, and this first step sends a very strong signal to the racing industry as a whole," he said.

Other objectives of the strategic plan include:

* Presenting a superior racing product to the betting public. * Developing Ellerslie as a brand synonymous with the venue for top quality thoroughbred racing. * Providing a leadership role in Northern Regional Racing and New Zealand Racing, and acting as a catalyst for positive progress and change in thoroughbred racing.

About the Auckland Racing Club

Established in 1874, the Auckland Racing Club is the country's premier racing club headquartered at the Ellerslie racecourse, the show place of the thoroughbred racing industry.

The Club hosts 26 race days throughout the year with stakes and trophies totalling $6.5 million, the highest of any club in New Zealand. Total revenue in 2002, including on-course and off-course betting, amounted to more than $60 million. The combined assets of the Club, worth more than $50 million, include the award winning Ellerslie Convention and Function Centre.

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