Horse racing syndicates have been taken to a spellbinding new levels with 100 Auckland women taking shares in three horses for a mere $100 fee.
The Witches of Westview Syndicate are a new, ladies-only syndicate who will take on the might of the harness racing industry on Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup Day.
Founded with a dash of fire and brimstone by industry veteran Nigel Armstrong and wife Brenda, the syndicate was made up of a hundred "Witches" ranging in age from early twenties to eighties.
"After being involved in harness racing for over 40 years, I could see the only way forward for horse ownership was syndication," Nigel Armstrong said.
"The thrill you get when a horse you have some sort of share in wins is indescribable."
The syndicate has been the perfect excuse For Aucklander Francis Reisy to reunite with her four sisters, Joan, Leslie, Elaine and Jean, aged 54 – 65.
"It's brought us all together and has been quite a hoot," she said.
When Francis wasn't helping her husband with their rural transport business, she said she was on the phone to her sisters arranging their next track-side get-together or "shopping for a decent witches' hat".
Racing syndicates were common in the harness and thoroughbred industry as race enthusiasts joined together to share racehorse ownership for a smaller cost.
Nigel Amrstrong said he was looking to attract new members with affordable investment options and the Witches came into being in January 2018.
"We wanted to target lady owners, especially those new to the game," he said.
"So, I put my money where my mouth is and approached Harness Racing New Zealand with a proposal to start this syndicate. They showed great faith in me and gave us the green light."
Today, he leased 10 per cent of three of his top horses to the Witches at no cost, with each member paying a one-off payment of $100 to cover the running cost of the syndicate.
It's tricky when people ask which part of the horse they owned. "It's hard to argue with a witch when it comes to co-owning a racehorse."
Keryn McElroy from Addington Raceway & Events Centre said it was great to see more women getting involved in the harness racing industry.
"The availability of syndicates like these mean people can take part of the magic of Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup Day," she said.
ChristchurchNZ General Manager of Destination & Attraction Loren Heaphy also added:
"Christchurch will be pumping during New Zealand Cup & Show Week as visitors and residents come together to explore and enjoy all our city has to offer."
New Zealand Cup and Show Week runs from November 10-17 and includes the New Zealand Agricultural Show at Canterbury Agricultural Park and the Al Basti Equiworld NZ 2000 Guineas Day at Riccarton Park Racecourse.