A series of racing celebrity lunches and dinners will be auctioned this week via gavelhouse.com, in an initiative driven by the New Zealand Jockeys’ Association, with all funds raised by the auctions to go to the New Zealand Horse Ambulance Trust.
Several of the stars of the turf, in addition to racing fanatic and cricket legend Brendon McCullum, have put their hand up to be involved. Andrew Lacy, the new Executive Officer of the New Zealand Jockeys’ Association, is the brainchild of the fundraiser.
“I came into the role at the Jockeys’ Association in February, and one of my ambitions is to increase the profile of jockeys, to help them be regarded as sporting heroes,” Lacy said.
“You see kids lining up for autographs and selfies after rugby games, and I’d love to see that happening at race meetings with the jockeys.
“So I put my mind to it, and came up the idea of celebrity lunches. I knew that the Horse Ambulance Trust was raising money to complete their fleet, and thought they would be the perfect cause to raise money for.”
Lacy has been delighted with the willingness of industry participants to get behind the initiative.
“Not one person turned me down,” Lacy said. “That just shows the willingness of the industry to pull together for a common cause. The horse is at the front and centre of the industry, and everyone has horse welfare at the heart of things.”
There will be six lunches or dinners held across the country, with the times and dates of individual meals to be determined by the successful bidders and the celebrities. The meals are all-inclusive, and the winning bidders will also get to bring a guest along.
In addition to the celebrity lunches and dinners, Boys Get Paid has also generously donated a pair of Winx breeches, signed by Hugh Bowman, which will also go up for auction.
“The Jockeys’ Association will also be contributing $10,000,” Lacy said.
“The Jockeys’ Association has northern, central, and southern area presidents – Sam Collett, Lisa Allpress, and Sam Wynne all involved.
“The auctions are now live and already the combined total has surpassed $12,000 which is encouraging. There is a bit of competition between the jockeys and other participants to see who can generate the highest bid.”
A horse ambulance costs around $95,000, with a towing vehicle required as well.
The live auction will close on Monday and can be viewed at https://gavelhouse.co.nz/
Below is a list of the celebrity meals on offer
1. Auckland: Dinner at Volare with Opie Bosson, Luke Kemeys and Ben Masters (sponsored by Haunui Farm and Ribchester);
2. Cambridge: Lunch at Alpino with Brendon McCullum and Stephen Marsh (sponsored by Haunui Farm and Belardo);
3. Christchurch: Lunch at Lonestar Riccarton with Chris Johnson, Sam Wynne and Tina Comignaghi (sponsored by Inglewood Stud and War Decree);
4. Palmerston North: Dinner at The Fat Farmer with Kevin Myers and Tony Lee (sponsored by Cambridge Stud and Hello Youmzain);
5. Wellington: Lunch at Rydges Wellington with Lisa Allpress and Johno Benner (sponsored by Grangewilliam Stud and Wyndspelle); and
6. Matamata: Lunch at Osteria with Danielle Johnson and Sam Collett (sponsored by Waikato Stud and Super Seth).