Following in the footsteps of the success the New Zealand Wine Industry, the New Zealand Thoroughbred Industry is celebrating success at the highest level on the international stage, with the success of two New Zealand born and bred racehorses at the world's most famed Racing Carnival, Royal Ascot.
Equine superstars Little Bridge and So You Think delivered a significant boost to the New Zealand Thoroughbred Industry, plying their wares with aplomb this week in front of a global audience of millions and the pomp and pageantry of the Royal Family, headed by racing's number one fan, Her Majesty the Queen.
Winning the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (2000m), Waikato-raised So You Think denied the Queen a fairytale victory of her own, defeating her classy galloper Carlton House. The Champion galloper has now won ten races at the elite Group I level and has travelled the globe after initially racing in Australia , venturing to England , Ireland , France , Dubai and the United States in the past 12 months.
Likewise, the opening day success of sprinter Little Bridge in the King's Stand Stakes (1000m) - who is these days domiciled in Hong Kong - showed the versatility of the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeding Industry, with both speed and stamina in our arsenal.
Both Little Bridge and So You Think were bred and raised in the lush pastures of the Waikato , before being sold at public auction at New Zealand Bloodstock's world class facility at Karaka for $9,000 and $110,000 respectively.
Like so many of New Zealand's finest thoroughbreds, Little Bridge and So You Think were exported to race for lucrative prize money on offer abroad, with So You Think set to commence stallion duties later this season, having been secured by Irish based breeding consortium Coolmore for a reported A$60 million.
The New Zealand Thoroughbred Industry exports in excess of 1600 horses annually with an estimated net worth of $135 million. The Thoroughbred Breeding and Racing Industry contributes some $791.6 million to the New Zealand economy and provides employment for more than 30,000.
Commenting on the success of Little Bridge and So You Think at Royal Ascot, New Zealand Thoroughbred Marketing Chief Executive Andrew Birch said: "It goes a long way to confirming the class of our thoroughbreds on the world stage - make no mistake this is a monumental achievement. This is probably the most significant week in the history of New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeding and the spin-offs from the global exposure could be massive for our industry. This is our World Cup victory."
"We have a natural advantage when it comes to breeding thoroughbreds, given our climate and our cost of production is vastly cheaper than the majority of our rivals. Meanwhile our horsemen and women are first class and substantial investment has been put into ensuring we breed to the world's best bloodlines."
On track to revel in the triumph was Cambridge couple Des & Janet Hawkins, breeders of Little Bridge, while prominent New Zealand breeder and owner Peter Vela ONZM and his wife Pam were guests of the Queen as part of the Royal Procession on Day 1 of the five-day carnival. Vela is also the Co-Owner of New Zealand Bloodstock and Vela Fishing with his brother Philip.