A casual conversation between some Mount Maunganui RSA punters club members three years ago led to them being in the owners' stand at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney on Derby Day this month.
The 12-strong Mount RSA team were on course to cheer on Kiwi racehorse Mongolianconquerer that the syndicates has a small share in.
That conversation among Mount RSA members about taking a small share in racing a horse led to Neil Bartosh putting out a tongue-in-cheek flyer in the club, which was headed "If you have ever wanted to race a horse — do you know how cheap it can be".
"My idea was about affordable racehorse ownership, where 20 people pooled their resources and took a 5 per cent share in a horse. The formula was to put in around $300 each, with a weekly cost of less than a cup of coffee at a cafe," Bartosh said.
"We called a meeting and over 20 club members turned up and after doing the sums, I suggested that we purchase a five per cent share in two horses."
Contact was made with Te Akau Stud, which led to shares being purchased in two yearlings that went on to be named Red Poppy and Linchpin. Te Akau has a policy of letting syndicate members name each individual racehorse.
Rae Rogers was lucky enough to have her name drawn out of the hat and she used the RSA connection to call the Iffraaj filly Red Poppy.
There was plenty of jubilation from syndicate members on course when both Red Poppy and Linchpin won a maiden race each early in their racing careers. However the success was short lived with both horses suffering injuries that saw them retired.
When Bartosh suggested replacement shareholdings in two further horses there was plenty of support.
"I contacted Ballymore Stables in Matamata and they had an Alamosa colt, related to Melbourne Cup winner Efficient, getting ready to race named On The Rocks. A few of us were at the Te Akau Stables Christmas party and they paraded an Ocean Park horse that they were then currently syndicating, which is how we got involved in Mongolianconquerer."
Western Bay rugby and cricket identity Colin Henderson loves being involved.
"I couldn't imagine the unbelievable thrills of horse racing that awaited me when I took a share the size of a couple of horse hairs, when approached by my brother-in-law Barry Tutt to get involved in a Mount RSA syndicate," he said.
Group three and listed race success was the goal for On The Rocks when he joined two-race winner Mongolianconquerer in the $1million New Zealand Derby at Ellerslie racecourse in early March.
Just a bob of the head on the line by Vin De Dance denied Mongolianconquerer victory in the 3-year-old classic over 2400m. While On The Rocks finished eighth, earlier there had been plenty of happiness after winning the Avondale Guineas at the lucrative price of $18.
Second place in the New Zealand Derby bankrolled a start for Mongolianconquerer in the Australian Derby on the first day of The Championships at Royal Randwick on Saturday April 7.
Bill and Lesley Vince, Laurie and Marge Smith, Neil and Teresa Bartosh, Lona Hobbs, Ian Kennedy, Barry Tutt, Colin Henderson, Lois May and Eldred Irving made the trip across the Tasman.
They arrived on course at Royal Randwick an hour before the first race, to soak up the atmosphere at one of Australian Racing's biggest days.
"The undoubted highlight in the early afternoon was to watch champion mare Winx put through her paces in a exhibition gallop, as she prepared for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes the following weekend," Henderson said.
"The excitement built through the day as we prepared for our big race. While there was a temporary flat feeling when Mongolianconquerer finished seventh, we later reflected on our charge having beaten home many of the best staying 3-year-olds in Australia and New Zealand."
After the race Te Akau Stables principal David Ellis said next season's plan is to target the Caulfield Cup in the spring and the 2019 Sydney Cup next autumn.