Waipa district has a global reputation for producing world-class thoroughbred horses with a number of outstanding studs based here.
Foremost breeders include Cambridge Stud with its champion sire, Sir Tristram. Sir Tristram’s offspring have won more than NZ$65 million and include 45 individual Group One winners. One of his progeny, Zabeel, has now taken over Sir Tristram’s mantle as Australasia’s leading sire, producing more than 40 Group One winners of his own.
Sir Tristram and Zabeel have sired five Melbourne Cup winners between them. In total 13 Melbourne Cup winners, so far, have been Waipa-bred.
Waipa-based Trelawney Stud was founded in 1930 and is New Zealand’s longest-established commercial stud. Trelawny Stud has bred three Melbourne Cup winners and provided early homes for four more. Other prominent Waipa-based studs include Windsor Park, Wentworth Grange, Chequers Stud, The Oaks and Linwood Park.
In 2011, the sales of New Zealand thoroughbred horses generated more than NZ$150 million. Most of that income was generated within the wider Waikato region, much of it within Waipa.
As the epicentre of the New Zealand equine industry, it is no surprise many of New Zealand’s top trainers and jockeys are based here. They are supported by a wide range of businesses serving owners and trainers including farriers, tack shops, feed merchants and transporters. The Cambridge Equine Hospital is one of the country’s largest horse veterinary practices, employing 10 vets including two surgeons.
Te Awamutu has its own racetrack with racing having started in the town in the 1870s. Nearby Pirongia is home to New Zealand’s oldest racing club, the Alexandra Racing Club. Its only race meeting is now held each Boxing Day and is an important part of Waipa’s Christmas tradition. The Cambridge Raceway hosts about 25 harness race meetings a year.
Equestrian events are an important part of Waipa’s high-performance sport offering. Waipa has produced a number of world-class equestrians including Olympic champions Sir Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson. Every April, the Kihikihi International Horse Trials, one of the country’s few three-star equestrian events, attracts top international riders.
Polo is well-supported with two local clubs. The Kihikihi Polo Club near Te Awamutu is one of the oldest in the country and hosts an International Polo Day each February where visiting international teams play New Zealand. The Cambridge Polo Club also hosts events attracting international-class players from around the world.
Each year, the Mystery Creek venue in Waipa hosts Equidays, a annual event that draws thousands of horse lovers for three days of equine–related demonstrations, exhibitions, activities and retail sites.