New syndicate of sports stars formed

NZ HARNESS NEWS

A bunch of high-profile New Zealand sportsmen, including numerous All Blacks and a Black Cap are among the shareholders in a newly-formed syndicate.

The 40-person group were pulled together by North Canterbury trainer Mitch Kerr and his cousin, Sam ‘Lashes’ Casey, a radio personality also popular for his pre-match motivational speeches for the Highlanders.

Casey isn’t new to ownership – he’s been lucky enough to own the ill-fated The Dorchester and rising star Smokin By, both winners on the last two New Zealand Cup days.

Looking to capitalise on that momentum, Kerr and Casey got together and pulled in 38 mates of theirs and they’ll race a Bettor’s Delight filly purchased at Wednesday’s National Yearling Sale in Christchurch.

Among them are current All Blacks Jordie Barrett, Ben Smith and Aaron Smith and fellow rugby players James Lentjes, Hayden Parker, Joe Wheeler, Rob Thomson, Gareth Evans, Tom Franklin, Richard Buckman, Ash Dixon, Craig Miller and Marty Banks.

Joining them is Black Caps bowler Matt Henry and Canterbury Wizards captain, Cole McConchie and “whole bunch of old school mates from St Bede’s College and close friends of mine”, according to Kerr.

Kerr says he hopes this will be a workable platform to raise harness racing’s profile and introduce a whole bunch of new people to the game.

And it was a stressful process, too.

“Doing such a big syndicate was daunting to start off with.

“It was a big process that took a lot of time and effort.

“But I think the industry needs help and with guys like this, and word of mouth, it should be a real boost.

“The whole idea of buying a filly is that hopefully most of them stay in and breed her after she’s finished racing, too.

“It’s all bloody exciting and I’m very proud that we’ve pulled it together like we have.”

Casey said he and a few of his mates, like Lentjes and Parker, have already been having a blast racing Smokin By, and they can’t wait to bring in more mates to experience the thrill of harness racing.

“The sales rolled around and we thought it would be a good idea to get as many young blokes as we can to take a small share in a horse and enjoy the ride.

“That stemmed from The Dorchester and Smokin By providing us with back-to-back wins on Cup Day the past two years which were both great days.

“We thought it be great to have a lot of our mates experience that sort of thing with us.

“The aim is to hopefully get together twice a year and hopefully cheer home a winner.”

Jordie Barrett is a first-time owner but is a big fan of cup week and that fueled his interest in racing one.

“I always mark down Cup week on my calendar and if this horse wins during Cup week it’ll be a cherry on top.

“Plus, one of those owners’ ribbons is a great conversation starter.”

Marty Banks is a known racing fiend so it was a natural progression for him to jump on board.

“I love the thrill of backing a winner so I can imagine owning one will be even better!

“And it’s a good bunch of lads together to paint the town red once we do just that as well.”

Joe Wheeler is channeling a classic New Zealand mantra.

“Kiwi blokes are all about rugby, racing and beer, so now I’m an owner I can proudly represent that slogan.”

Kerr went to $45,000 to secure the filly, a close relative of Adore Me, Christen Me and Dream About Me.

“I thought we were very lucky to get as the price we did.

“She was a standout; had the pedigree on the page and I loved how she looked.

“She just had everything going for her.

“I had marked out three for the boys and when she was there within the budget, it was a bit of a no-brainer.”

Casey will manage the syndicate, which is yet to be named, and the filly may yet undergo a name change from her current one of Madam Bettorfly.

“I’ll leave it up to the boys whether they want to change it,” said Kerr.

“Lashes is pretty keen to have his piece in there so I’d say it might happen.”

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