New Zealand


New Zealand is one of the youngest country on earth – the last major landmass to be discovered. Only 1000 years ago Maori became the first people to migrate to New Zealand. Comparable in land mass to Great Britain, Colorado or Japan, New Zealand has a population of just over 4 million. It has a horse population of around 120,000 – of these around 35,000, or 30%, are thoroughbreds.

The New Zealand Racing Industry

Racing contributes $1.6 billion (0.9% of GDP) to the New Zealand economy (In 2011 The NZ Racing Board published a ‘Size and Scope of the NZ Racing Industry’ report, of which equines account for 87% of this). The largest economic contribution racing makes is in wages and salaries – over $768 million is paid every year to employees.

It directly employs almost 9,000 people and, when including those that are employed elsewhere in the economy due to activity within the racing industry, this number almost doubles. Throughout the country a total of almost 55,000 people participate in racing, including casual staff, part-time workers and volunteers. That’s just over 1.2% of the entire population.

The first horses to be landed in New Zealand were probably those brought from Australia by the Rev. Samuel Marsden to Rangihoua in the Bay of Islands on 23 December 1814 from the ship Active. They were from New South Wales, the gift of Governor Macquarie to the Maoris. Horses from New South Wales were to have an important place in the establishment of thoroughbred breeding in New Zealand. Horses came with the military garrisons and it is recorded that the first horses arrived in Wellington on 2 March 1840. The first acknowledged thoroughbred horse, Figaro, landed in Wellington. He was bred by T. Icely, of Cooming, New South Wales, a celebrated breeder of the time.

Horse racing was a feature of the first anniversary celebrations in Wellington, Auckland, Nelson, Otago, and Canterbury. The first anniversary of the settlement of Wellington in January 1841 included a hurdle race on the third day of the celebrations. It was won by Henry Petre riding his own horse, Calmuc Tartar. A jockey club was formed for the meeting but it lapsed after a few years. The first formal meeting was held at Petone beach on 20 October 1842, when the imported horse Figaro beat Calmuc Tartar in a 10-guinea sweepstake run in heats over a mile and a half.

Early race meetings were controlled by local committees elected for the meeting only, generally at a public meeting of interested citizens. Those elected made the arrangements, drew up the rules, and appointed the officials. In the larger towns the establishment of a racing club generally followed. These local clubs had their own locally varying rules, but based in common on those of the English Jockey Club.

After racing had been established for 30 years, the metropolitan clubs realised the need for some governing body to obtain uniform rules of racing and a uniform scale of weights. The first recorded move was made by the Canterbury Jockey Club in 1875 and, on 11 November 1876, during the course of the Canterbury Jockey Club race meetings, a meeting of delegates resolved “That it was desirable to establish a New Zealand Jockey Club, to frame rules and make a scale of weights to be used by all clubs running under the rules”.

Racing in New Zealand is now controlled by New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR), which, consistent with its origin, is an association of the clubs registered under its Constitution and Rules.

The New Zealand Stud Book

The first New Zealand Stud Book was compiled by Charles Elliot in 1862 and was printed and published at the offices of the Nelson Examiner. The cost was met by 54 subscribers who were listed in the book. It contained the pedigrees of 145 mares and 58 covering stallions and listed two stallions and two fillies imported after the book had gone to press.

Volume two was printed in 1866, before being taken over in 1900 by what is now New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing. The latest Stud Book published by NZTR was Vol. XXXII in 2012. This contains 10,185 mares and 156 registered Stallions at stud in New Zealand.

If you would like to purchase a copy of the New Zealand Stud Book Volume XXXII 2012 edition please contact NZTR on +64 4 576 6263 or

The New Zealand Totalisator

New Zealand gave birth to the world’s first automatic totalisator, in 1913, and pioneered and legitimised off-course betting in 1951 through the world's first national off-course betting agency, the Totalisator Agency Board or TAB.

The first crude totalisators began operating about 1879 or 1880. Despite its inefficiency, the totalisator must have greatly interfered with the business of the on-course bookmakers, or they must have foreseen a strong future competitor, for there were various attempts to ban the totalisator, the Churches and other anti-gambling factions joining the bookmakers in their attack. But the clubs saw the advantages of the new machine. Between 1900 and 1910 the clubs gradually started to exclude bookmakers from their courses, even though bookmaking was not unlawful at the time.

Totalisator and fixed odds betting are now conducted by the TAB, an arm of the New Zealand Racing Board.

The New Zealand Thoroughbred

The legend of the New Zealand thoroughbred began over a century ago, when Carbine set a still unsurpassed weight-carrying record in the 1890 Melbourne Cup.

It has grown through the deeds of historic champions Phar Lap, Tulloch and Balmerino and has continued through the feats of modern day heroes, such as Bonecrusher, the New Zealand-bred, owned, trained and ridden mare Horlicks, who set a world record mark in winning the Japan Cup, and more recently, Sunline.

Following Efficient’s victory in the 2007 Melbourne Cup there have now been 33 New Zealand-bred winners over the 64 contests since the Second World War – a trans-Tasman strike rate of more than 50%.

Name of Racing Authority: New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Inc. (NZTR)

Postal Address: PO Box 38-386, Wellington Mail Centre, 5012, New Zealand
Physical Address: 106 - 110 Jackson Street, Petone, 5012, New Zealand
Tel: (64) 4-576-6240 Fax: (64) 4-568-8866


New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing is the governing body of the thoroughbred code in New Zealand. Its exists to:


NZTR is currently governed by a Board of six Directors:

Matthew Goodson - Chairman
Victoria Carter - Deputy Chairman
Greg McCarthy - NZTR Nominee to the Board of the New Zealand Racing Board
John Stace
Ben Nettleton
Rick Williams

Appointments to the Board are for three year terms and for a maximum of three terms, that is, an initial term and two further terms of three years each.


Mr Bernard Saundry
Chief Executive

Mr Simon Cooper
Company Secretary

Mr Campbell Moncur
GM Finance and IT

Mr Martin Burns
GM Planning and Projects

Mr Matthew Hall
GM Racing and Operations

Mr Douglas Woolridge
Website & IT System Support Leader
Advertising, Editorial, & Marketing Coordinator

Ms Julie Walker
Keeper of the Studbook & Registrations Manager

Ms Karen Larsen
Manager, Finance

Joint Chief Stipendiary Stewards: Mr Ross Neal & Mr Nigel McIntyre

Contact for Overseas Liaison/Information: Mr Simon Cooper

Contact for Website/Marketing/Information: Mr Douglas Woolridge

Major Metropolitan Race Clubs:

Auckland Racing Club
P O Box 852, Auckland, Tel: +64 9 524 4069, Fax: +64 9 524 8680, Email:
Wellington Racing Club
P O Box 47-024, Trentham, Tel: +64 4 528 9611, Fax: +64 4 528 4166, Email:
Canterbury Jockey Club
P O Box 11-137, Sockburn, Christchurch, Tel: +64 3 336 0000, Fax: +64 3 342 6114, Email:
Hawkes Bay Racing
P O Box 1046, Hastings, Tel: +64 6 873 4545, Email:

Principal Festivals:

1. Auckland Cup Carnival 1st week of March Ellerslie, Auckland
2. HB Spring Carnival September and early October Hastings, Hawke’s Bay
3. Wellington Cup Carnival Mid-late January Trentham, Wellington
4. New Zealand Cup Carnival Mid-late November Riccarton, Christchurch
5. Great Northern Steeplechase Early September Ellerslie, Auckland

Additional Information is also available via the home of ‘New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing’