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HORSE RACING

Budget boost for feature race stakes

Friday 16 May 2008, 12:53PM

By Rt Hon Winston Peters

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New Zealand’s premier races are set for a significant lift in prizemoney as a result of a Budget 2008 initiative, Racing Minister Winston Peters announced yesterday.

 

"Budget 2008 makes available $9 million over the next three years for co-sponsorship arrangements that will see substantially higher prizemoney offered by the crème de la crème of New Zealand races,” said Mr Peters.

 

“We are confident this fund will result in at least one of New Zealand’s premier races joining the Kelt Stakes in offering $2 million, and that several other Group One events will carry stakes well over the million-dollar mark.

 

“Top harness and greyhound races will also receive a commensurate lift in stakes.

 

“This initiative will help our clubs keep pace with the money on offer overseas. It will also encourage greater bloodstock investment and the retention of quality horses here.

 

“High stakes races will also attract top contestants from Australia and further afield; lift New Zealand racing’s international profile, and capture the public’s imagination.

 

“The challenge for racing clubs will be to ensure that this initiative is used to encourage sponsors to maximise their exposure by digging a little deeper in their own pockets, given they could be joining forces with a silent partner.

 

“This is an exciting time for racing. Today’s initiative builds on the significant reduction in gaming duty in 2006, which has resulted in annual savings of an estimated $34 million. That money has been redirected into efforts to encourage ownership, reward customers, and improve infrastructure.

 

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

 

“The challenge now is for racing is to build on these developments and work towards fulfilling the industry’s unrealised economic potential,” Mr Peters said.

 

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