A horse bought for $20,000 by a syndicate that includes former Black Cap Simon Doull is a favourite to claim a big payday in today's Karaka Million race at Ellerslie.
The fast bowler-turned broadcaster bought the colt, now named Felton Road, with eight other investors at last year's yearling sales.
After Felton Road won two races this year he was favoured to perform strongly in the 1200m dash at the twilight meeting. The New Zealand Bloodstock Karaka Million winner gets $550,000 for first place.
And as Felton Road gets set for the big race, Doull said the thrill of watching it win was almost as great as anything he experienced during his cricket career.
"It doesn't matter how much money you've got. It doesn't matter whether you own a tail or the whole horse," Doull said. "The thrill of your horse winning - you can not beat it. It almost beats winning a test match. It's an amazing feeling." Doull, who owns a dozen horses, got into the industry as a teenager. His friend's dad got him a job at Pukekohe racecourse when he left school.
"I started to enjoy the horses and it sort of grew from there." Tomorrow marks the start of the New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sales at Karaka.
Hundreds of year-old horses are sold to owners who are hopeful they've bought the next "big thing" in thoroughbred racing.
Doull, 47, said Felton Road had caught trainer Tony Pike's eye at last year's sale. He thought the colt was "at the right price to try".
Doull said the syndicate came together at the last minute. Pike invited him to join in, and others came through Pike's golfing buddies. Doull said four of the men had never owned a horse.
The group wanted to name the horse after the best red wine they knew, as the colt's mother is called Rose Red. Doull suggested Felton Road - after Central Otago's award-winning vineyard, which gave Doull a case of red after the colt's last win.
"I guess one or two bottles might be opened if he happens to win the Karaka Million.
"For [the syndicate] it's a pretty amazing story. I know the game well enough to know these things very rarely happen.
"These races are incredibly hard to win. Every horse has every right to be there. You need the luck to go your way."
But if Felton Road does win big, the syndicate will invest in another race horse.
"If he wins I guarantee we will."