Sir Peter Vela is set to be inducted into the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame.
Amid all the action at this week’s National Yearling Sale, there was no more popular news
than the pending Racing Hall of Fame induction of New Zealand Bloodstock principal Sir Peter Vela.
Perhaps after nearly half a century’s involvement in the thoroughbred industry, it may come
as a surprise that Sir Peter is not already a member of this country’s elite racing body, but that was
far from his own mind when he discussed his induction with Raceform.
“Becoming a member of the Hall of Fame isn’t something you expect, but with the decision
having been made it’s an honour and I’m humbled to be joining a list of great horses and people,” Sir Peter said.
Amongst those he refers to already in our pantheon of stars is Ethereal, the mighty stayer
bred by the Vela brothers at Pencarrow Stud from their Hong Kong Cup winner Romanee Conti. Her
2001 Caulfield-Melbourne Cup double in the midst of four Australian Group One wins guaranteed
her place in the Hall of Fame.
“I’ve been involved since the early 1970s as an owner and over the years I’ve made my
contribution in various ways. The decision I made with my late brother Philip to buy Wrightson
Bloodstock and establish New Zealand Bloodstock in the late 1990s, serving on the board of the TAB some years ago and now to be on the RITA board – that’s all been part of it.”
Sir Peter acknowledges that the purchase of Wrightson Bloodstock in a deal that included
the superb Karaka sales complex had its challenges, however the evolution of New Zealand
Bloodstock has been a source of immense satisfaction.
“It wasn’t as if we were diving into a highly profitable business, but we turned it around and
made it a decent business. It’s been all about developing relationships, both in New Zealand and
internationally, built over an enormous period of time.
“Now when you see so many big players in the bloodstock world come here each year to
compete for our horses – that’s something we can be proud of. I also have to compliment our own
breeders for the faith they’ve put in the industry.
“This year’s sale for instance, to see so many fantastic young sires with progeny in the
catalogue – that says so much for the strength and the future of our breeding industry.”
Innovation has been very much part of the NZB brand led by Sir Peter, with no better
example than the Karaka Million race meeting. “It was a battle to get that established on a weekend
that had not worked in any format before. But it was all about getting on board with the Auckland
Racing Club and just as importantly gaining the co-operation of the Wellington Racing Club in what
had been a traditional space for them.
“You’d have to say that what we have now with the Karaka Million concept ahead of the
National Sale is a brilliant formula.”
Challenges remain in Sir Peter’s busy life, most of all his current role on the RITA Board
during a crucial period of industry change. “Our industry has difficulties that were never going to be
solved in the space of a few weeks, but it’s important that we have the conversation, that people
become more aware of the issues.
“If that happens, then I’m sure we can get to where we as an industry need to be.”
Words - Dennis Ryan
Love Racing Facebook Live video interview with Cherry Taylor is available here.
Details and ticket purchase for the upcoming Induction Dinner event are available here.