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Peters: Stakes boost for top-line feature races

Rt Hon Winston Peters
Minister of Foreign Affairs

Embargoed until 8pm, 15 May 2008
Media statement

Stakes boost for top-line feature races
Speech to the Tribute to Sir Patrick Hogan evening,
Langham Hotel, Auckland
8pm, 15 May 2008

Sir Patrick and Lady Justine; Sir Howard Morrison; Dame Malvina Major; distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

It is an honour to be here tonight to acknowledge, and to celebrate, Sir Patrick’s contribution to thoroughbred breeding and racing.

The racing industry forms an important part of New Zealand’s economic and social fabric, and Sir Patrick’s personal contribution to this has been immeasurable.

His Cambridge Stud is now synonymous with New Zealand thoroughbred breeding, here and overseas.

Sir Patrick’s skill and judgment as a breeder has enabled him to select not one, but two, super-sires. Sir Tristram established Cambridge Stud among the elite of the world’s studs. Zabeel has kept it there.

Sir Patrick’s business acumen, promotional skills and hospitality have been equally vital to the success of Cambridge Stud.

His achievements have been acknowledged with an array of deserved accolades, most notably his knighthood for services to thoroughbred racing and breeding.

He is also the only person to have been inducted into both the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame and the Australian Racing Hall of Fame.

Indeed, throughout his illustrious career, Sir Patrick has regularly raised the standards for the industry.

It is important that we all take his lead, and continually strive to improve our industry’s performance.

In this spirit, tonight is the perfect opportunity to announce that this year’s Budget will set aside $9 million over the next three years for a co-sponsorship scheme to significantly lift the stakes offered by the cream of New Zealand’s feature races.

This initiative is designed to help our racing clubs keep pace with the money available overseas. It will also encourage greater bloodstock investment and the retention of quality horses in New Zealand.

High stakes races will attract top contestants from Australia and further afield. That in turn will raise our international profile, and capture the New Zealand public’s imagination.

Big-money races also provide the bedrock around which highly successful racing carnivals can be built, bringing proven, serious economic benefit not just to the racing industry, but to local communities across the country.

Further details about the stakes initiative will be announced after the Budget, and before the new racing season commences.

It is anticipated, however, that next season another feature race will join the Kelt Stakes in being run for at least $2 million, and that a number of other Group One races will carry stakes well over the $1 million mark.

This vision requires the coordinated efforts of New Zealand’s leading racing clubs, the codes and the Racing Board.

The challenge now is to seize this opportunity by treating the $9 million not as a means to an end but as a beginning – as seed money which can produce much greater gains for the racing industry, and for the nation.

We must encourage and cajole existing and potential sponsors to see this initiative for what it is – the chance to maximise their exposure by joining forces with a silent partner who is putting up significant money but seeking no exposure and no naming rights in return.

That, surely, is worth sponsors digging just a little deeper in their own pockets to raise the stakes even higher.

If we can move forward in this spirit, there is no reason why a number of marquee races cannot be pushed through the $1 million barrier and beyond, and really set New Zealand’s racing scene alight.

This is an exciting time for racing in this country, and there is an air of optimism and rejuvenation right around the country.

Hopefully the co-sponsorship arrangement outlined tonight will add to that atmosphere, by building on the benefits that have flowed from the racing reforms made two years ago.

That initiative has resulted in annual savings of an estimated $34 million, which the industry has been able to redirect to schemes aimed at encouraging ownership, rewarding customers, and addressing infrastructure issues.

Furthermore, the Safety Development Fund introduced last year has been well received by clubs, with the first $1 million pool being oversubscribed.

The challenge now is for everyone associated with racing to build on these exciting developments and work towards fulfilling the industry’s unrealised potential.

Tonight, we are honouring a man who has already demonstrated just what can be achieved in New Zealand racing. He knows the sky is the limit, and that ambition and hard work can bring wonderful rewards.

So once again, It is indeed an honour to be here tonight to recognise and celebrate the outstanding successes of Sir Patrick, and of the Hogan family.


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