A young chartered accountant has organised what he believes is likely the country's largest betting club of more than 300 punters who have contributed to a pot of $35,000 to be wagered at the Karaka Million.
Luke Kemeys, 29, told the Weekend Herald he and two other racing enthusiasts who helped co-ordinate the group, hope to make a decent profit at the event at Ellerslie Racecourse today.
All proceeds of the mega kitty will be split proportionately among those who have contributed.
"I'd love it to be $100,000 or more," Kemeys said. "I'd love to quadruple it.
"But the reality is you never know and that's why they call it gambling. Everyone could walk away with nothing.
"It's more about having a good time on the night. A bit of profit would be the icing on the cake."
The punter's club, called Boys Get Paid, started in a Facebook group for horse racing fans that Kemeys was a member of.
"This is just about doing something a little bit different and not everyone will know some of the things that [the organisers] know. We got involved for that reason."
Kemeys has been betting on horses for about a decade, but he'd still been "blown away" by how many people wanted a stake in the club. When the Weekend Herald spoke to Kemeys earlier this week 320 punters had joined.
"My goal was to have $20,000 and I think we'll walk on course with $40,000 to be honest," Kemeys said.
While most people had put $100 into the kitty, others paid $200 or $500 to get two or five "shares". The total returns will be split based on how much each punter contributed.
Kemeys said he enjoyed punting at the races because it was "a great leveller".
"It's an industry that amazing stories come out of. People with not necessarily the most money can still be successful. I think we're hard wired as people to enjoy the excitement of winning."
However, before placing a bet it was important to know how much money you were willing to lose and never bet beyond that, he said.
Kemeys is meeting the other two organisers this morning to share the research they've done and discuss strategies, but ultimately betting was "probably 99 per cent luck and 1 per cent skill".
"I'd love to think it's the reverse way... I think with horse racing there's certainly a level of skill to it and research and insight. But at the end of the day a jockey can fall off a horse and all of a sudden luck plays a huge part."
The punters' club would store the winnings in the safe at the racecourse tonight and head out for a few beers to celebrate, Kemeys told the Weekend Herald, before returning tomorrow morning to divide the winnings and work out how to send the hundreds of members their share.
A New Zealand Racing Board spokesman said betting clubs were popular at the racecourse during the summer.
Members of clubs were treated the same as any other punter with the funds being held in a TAB account or on a TAB voucher.
Responsible betting tips
• Never bet more than you can afford to lose
• Set limits on the time and money you'll spend
• Don't chase your losses
• If betting stops being fun, stop betting
(Source: New Zealand Racing Board/TAB)
For more information on TAB's responsible betting programme go to TAB's website.