By Michael Guerin
New Zealand’s first ever harness slot race has taken a major step forward with official applications now open for slot holders for The Race.
The $900,000 pace at Cambridge on April 14 will likely have 10 slots sold for $75,000 a year, with the first contracts for three years.
Once purchased a slot holder can race a horse of their own in that slot or engage another horse for it, with a minimum return of $37,500 so no slot holder can lose more than half their investment even if their horse runs out of the money.
With plenty of those who have expressed interest in purchasing slots being businesses or individuals who can claim racing at part of their taxable income, many would also be able to legitimately claim a slot back on their tax as a marketing expense.
So in reality, in a well done deal slots could only end up costing those involved $15,000 or even less if structured properly.
Host club Waikato-Bay Of Plenty had 26 expressions of interest since those opened before Christmas and chief executive David Branch has contacted all of them with the terms and conditions of buying a slot.
The Race will be over 2200m mobile, with three-year-olds and mares getting preferential draws.
“We are thrilled with the expressions of interest we have had,” says Branch.
“They are very wide-ranging, from New Zealand owners and trainers, to breeding operations, overseas harness racing enthusiasts to some really major international brand companies.
“That is very exciting and those numbers are even without dealing with some of the local major players who we haven’t contacted yet.
“So we are really confident we will fill the slots.”
More information on The Race can be found at its official website: www.therace.nz and applications close on January 31.
“Then if we are over subscribed, which could happen, we will have an independent panel look at the slot applications to help us sort through them.
“But it is tremendously exciting and the interest so far has been even greater than we could have dreamed of.”
Several big-name trainers in Australia have expressed their interest in bringing leading pacers to the race while there has also been talk of an international flavour to the race with one potential slot holder keen to engage a credentialed North American pacer.
“The website has plenty of info but anybody who wants to know more can call me,” said Branch.
“But just looking at the sort of applicants we have had I’d say five of them are keen to buy a slot straight away.”