Starting to believe
- 10 February 2018
By Michael Guerin
As harness racing sales week approaches the men behind New Zealand’s biggest club are starting to believe the once impossible dream.
And they say it could be reality inside three years.
The sales kick off at Karaka on Monday with the stronger Australasian Classic Sale before a new format in Christchurch which sees a parade and trotters-only sale on Tuesday and 250 lots on Wednesday.
But Karaka has become the hotbed of the three days, with more Australian interest and, because of a smaller catalogue, less lulls.
While the sale will be strong, especially in demand for Bettors Delight and Art Major colts, Auckland Trotting Club bosses are hoping the dawning reality of what lies ahead at Alexandra Park will be enough to attract new buyers.
The club has the very rare advantage of having businesspeople who are also long-time breeders and horse people on their board, giving them a handle on how one side of the industry feeds the other.
And that menu is about to get a lot bigger.
With Alexandra Park’s first real estate developments expected to be finished by the end of this year the club is rumoured to be considering a stake structure with $15,000 maidens, $20,000 next grade races and $25,000 mid to higher level races at every Friday meeting.
And that is expected to rise every year after, with an average stake of $25,000 per race at all meetings now realistic in four years.
“While we can’t outline the exact figures we are committed to an extra $40,000 in stakes every meeting next year and to keep increasing that,” says ATC president Bruce Carter.
Carter did not dismiss the figures mentioned above.
Those sort of numbers would give the Alexandra Park and Karaka relationship a ratio unheard of for a major sale anywhere else in the world.
The average yearling price at Karaka last season was around $38,000 but that is enormously propped up by Australian buyers looking for New Zealand’s best.
The actual average price paid by domestic buyers would be way lower, around the $25,000 mark.
Which means the average price of buying a standardbred yearling in Auckland will by the time most of them are racing be the same as the average stake for a harness race in the city, which when you have a very strong sale is remarkable.
“We are aware that is the sort of thing we have to aim at, to make racing horses viable,” says Carter.
“Our board who know the sums of racing so we are determined to see money go into stakes.
“That helps the sales but also goes into the pocket of all owners and trainers and for us it is not a case of if it will happen, but when.”
The remarkable ratio could make buying standardbreds a viable racing option for most chasing anything but the top lots, which on Monday are likely to be those sons, and occasional daughters, of Bettors Delight.
The sales parade starts at 2.30pm tomorrow with first lot through the ring at 10.30am on Monday.