An Aussie icon, billionaire businessman Gerry Harvey is fast becoming an honorary New Zealander.

If not through his retail chain Harvey Norman, then certainly through his immense investment in bloodstock in New Zealand.

And as Night's Watch, a horse he bred and retains a 50 per cent ownership share in, prepares to tackle today's A$5 million Caulfield Cup (2400m), the straight-talking Australian has made a play for dual citizenship.

In an interview last week with controversial radio host Alan Jones to promote the new Harvey Norman store in Auburn in Sydney, Harvey embraced his Kiwi connection.


"I've got more horses in New Zealand than Australia. I'm an honorary New Zealander," he said.

"When I go over there, they look at me and say 'you are one of us'. You know how we don't like New Zealanders? Well I'm a proud New Zealander."

Russell Warwick, general manager of the Harvey-owned Westbury Stud at Karaka and manager of Harvey's 120-strong racing team in New Zealand, has the numbers to back up the claim.

"$80 million," Warwick declares as Harvey's investment in New Zealand bloodstock and equine farms.

"He's got 300 mares here, so from that around 250 foals born here each year. He owns six stallions that we stand here at Westbury, from 25 per cent to 80 per cent shares in each, and he's got a team of 120 racehorses.

"And he'll sell 104 yearlings at the sales next year. He's got a huge investment in the New Zealand industry."

Harvey usually races horses in Australia under his own name but in a quirk of the system, his representation in Night's Watch is under his New Zealand racing banner, New Zealand Thoroughbred Holdings.

"It's an anomaly really. Gerry is really passionate about his success as a breeder but not worried about being seen as the name beside his horses as an owner," Warwick said.

"Phill Cataldo tried to buy this horse outright for OTI Racing and Terry Henderson but we had a pretty high opinion of the horse ourselves. We came to a deal to sell half the horse but that he would stay here for the New Zealand Derby to promote our stallion Redwood at stud - and that's why he's under New Zealand Thoroughbred Holdings rather than Gerry Harvey."

The upshot is that should Night's Watch win the Caulfield Cup, Harvey will win it for New Zealand.

And he's in pretty good company. Among the owners in the OTI share of the 5-year-old stayer is former All Blacks coach John Hart, a man who has enjoyed his share of triumphs in both gallops and harness racing at the highest level over the past few decades.

Night's Watch is in the middle market for the Caulfield Cup, at $15 with TAB bookmakers, but Warwick said there was reason for optimism.

"Terry is great to deal with. He always keeps us involved and informed. He watched this horse work with [stablemate and Caulfield Cup favourite] Kings Will Dream and rang me and said: 'This horse is flying. His trackwork was absolutely awesome'," Warwick said.

"He reckoned he had kept Kings Will Dream right up to the mark and could have beaten him by three lengths if they'd let him go. We're realistic because it's a $5 million race and he hasn't been given any favours at the barriers with 18.

"But he's only carrying 52 kilos and that's his advantage. And [trainer] Darren Weir is pretty happy with him. If he can replicate what he's doing in trackwork and brings that sort of form on Saturday, then he's got to be an each-way chance.

"On his pedigree, there would be some query about him getting 2400m, but he's relaxing well and he's got a good turn of foot. He was three from three at Caulfield before being beaten in the Caulfield Stakes."

Back in New Zealand, Harvey could take breeding honours at Rotorua with his Westbury Stud-bred Swiss Ace gelding Julius installed favourite in the day's feature, the group three Sweynesse Stakes (1215m).

"He's such a game horse. He's never finished out of the first three in his life," Warwick said of the John Bell-trained 7-year-old.

"Whatever he does this weekend, he'll improve on. It took Melody Belle every bit of heart to beat him last time and she's gone on to win two group ones so his form couldn't read much better.

"A lot of Gerry's breeding success goes unheralded. He got three Group winners in a day at Caulfield the other day."