This weekend's Karaka Million has an extra special meaning for passionate horse breeder Lou Te Keeti.
By Whatitiri Te Wake and Zion Dayal
The 73-year-old kaumātua from Tauranga has two sibling horses lining up in respective races, a first in the 94-year history of the Karaka Million.
Mr Te Keeti has invested $2 million into breeding race horses, the money coming from his $10 million Lotto winnings.
"My wife and I both decided this is what we wanted to do, follow our passion. After taking care of our children and our mokos we just wanted to indulge in ourselves," Mr Te Keeti said.
There will be horses to look out for too.
De La Terre and Aalaalune are both owned by Mr Te Keeti and trained by Graeme Rogerson.
Mr Rogerson is one of the country’s most successful trainers, having won over 5000 races.
"We are getting them ready and Lou wanted them ready for the Karaka Million. He's very passionate about the industry. I hope the iwi get right behind him and I think he's been successful, and I think they could have a lot of fun in racing," Mr Rogerson said.
De La Terre, which Mr Te Keeti partly owns, will feature in the fourth race at Ellerslie worth $1 million. While Aalaalune, which just he and his wife own, will be competing for $3 million in the main race.
"I can never be over confident - we're just hopeful. We are pleased and lucky to be in there because it's quite prestigious really to get into either one of these races," Mr Te Keeti said.
The first race of the Karaka Millions is at 4.30pm tomorrow.