The latest Jockey shoot last week was more of a fun catch up than strenuous work for All Black and Sevens players. When asked about the best part of the campaign, All Black Victor Vito quipped that they had been told they would get free underwear. In previous years players said they had dieted to trim down beforehand, however that seems to have gone out the window. "Bad time of the year for it really," said All Black Sevens star Scott Curry. Vito too seemed to have given up. Despite the lack of training, the Jockey reps and those on set didn't seem too disappointed. The team dynamics were in good shape with players joking and old rivalries hinted at. "I'm still getting over what happened last year against the Highlanders so sitting next to Malakai is pretty tough," Vito said, although when it came time for Malakai Fekitoa's shoot, Vito was more than happy to help out, standing on the sideline and showing newbie Fekitoa how to pose. Although Vito later joked that the instagram savvy Fekitoa player didn't need much help posing with his shirt off judging from his social media.
The Karaka Yearling sales open this morning with a celebration breakfast attended by some of the top players in the industry.
One of the major investors in New Zealand racehorses, Chinese businessman Lang Lin, is expected to be scouring the sales with other foreign investors looking for horses to race both here and back in China or Australia. Over the past few years, Lang has spent more than $11 million on more than 800 New Zealand racehorses sent to China to race, and he is expected to be one of the big buyers this week.
Cricket star Brendon McCullum is also expected to attend, looking to add to his stable of 18 racehorses, which he owns and manages for investors including former All Black Dan Carter.
Last year's sales reached just over $67 million and organisers will be hoping for a big week to beat that figure.
Labour Finance Spokesman Grant Robertson managed to turn a losing streak around by betting on a horse in the prestigious Wellington Cup that most punters at the NZ Racing Board's tent reckoned was an outside chance.
Labour MP Sue Moroney - who hails from the Matamata horse-training Moroney family - had suggested her colleagues should put their money on Mr Impatience rather than favourite Jimmy Mac.
Moroney's brother - the Flemington-based Michael Moroney - had sent Mr Impatience to his Matamata yard and the gelding finished fifth in the group three New Zealand Cup in November. The horse paid $28.80 for the win - easily bumping Robertson well back into the black.
Robertson was there - along with his leader, Andrew Little, and Little's deputy, Annette King - in a group of diplomats, business people, lobbyists, MPs and journalists hosted by board CEO John Allen. The Cup meeting is seen as the first major event of the Wellington social calendar.
Robertson reckons he is also "on the money" with his Future of Work Commission - particularly as the World Economic Forum chose the The Fourth Industrial Age as one of its prime themes for last week's meeting in the Swiss resort of Davos.
A forum report predicted that by 2020, 5 million jobs would be lost as a result of technological advances in fields such as artificial intelligence and machine-learning, robotics, nanotechnology, 3-D printing, genetics and biotechnology, causing widespread disruption not only to business models but also to labour markets over the next five years.
Robertson has mustered an external reference group including Michael Barnett (CEO, Auckland Chamber of Commerce) Helen Kelly (former President of the CTU) and Linc Gasking (Founder and Chief Executive of 8i).
He plans to release some policy ideas in March at an AUT seminar which will sport some big international names.
Brown's summer cheer
Auckland's summer may have got off to a wet start, but that didn't seem to dampen the enthusiasm of Mayor Len Brown last week at Ateed's summer events briefing.
Brown opened the proceedings by complimenting a bemused-looking Hauauru Rawiri, chair of the Mana Whenua steering group, on how tanned he looked, before presenting the summer events calendar.
Brown has reason to be enthusiastic, with this year's line-up including major music, food and sporting events as well as the new Tamaki Herenga Waka Festival - a celebration of Maori culture and heritage - and a chance for the public to have a go at paddling a waka.
The event coincides with the annual ASB Auckland Seafood Festival and St Jerome's Laneway Festival. The following weekend the Downer NRL Nines are expected to draw crowds of more than 35,000.
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