Bart Cummings’ induction as the first foreigner to the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame was the early highlight of the Karaka Premier Yearling Sale on Monday.
Cummings was inducted by Prime Minister John Key in a ceremony before the sale started at Karaka, on the southern outskirts of Auckland.
He was admitted on the strength of his success with New Zealand-bred horses. Eight of his 12 Melbourne Cup winners were New Zealand bred, as was his most recent champion So You Think.
“No overseas trainer has done more to promote the New Zealand thoroughbred,” Hall of Fame chairman Gerald Fell said.
Cummings bought So You Think at Karaka a few years ago and said he was hoping to find another top horse.
“I’m always looking for a bargain in New Zealand because I can’t get one in Australia,” he said.
The induction wasn’t the main motivation for his visit, though:
However, the real reason for his visit is to pick another winner of the race he’s almost made his own, the Melbourne Cup.
Cummings has won a few – 12 Melbourne Cups, with seven Kiwi-bred winners – and says the prize money is the attraction. He had back-to-back wins with Think Big in the 1970s.
The master trainer is now hoping he can get the right mix of sales business and pleasure at Karaka.
Race horses are definitely not must-haves and prices paid at the sales this week will be an indicator of buyer confidence in the racing industry and wider economy.