Ruakaka trainer Kenny Rae. Photo: Trish Dunell
Ruakaka trainer Kenny Rae was meant to be lapping up the sun in Queensland right now, but instead he is back at his sunny Northland property contemplating the future of his home course.
“Eamonn Green and myself were supposed to be going to the Gold Coast with three or four horses all through May and all June,” Rae said.
“He has got an apartment there. We stayed there two years ago. It is usually the horses that don’t front up, but the people couldn’t this time.”
Rae is currently working a team of two dozen horses and is resigned to the fact that he will have to do a little more travel than what he is used to over the winter months, when racing resumes in July, with Ruakaka not racing this winter due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Pre-Covid-19, Rae was planning to do less travelling, but said he will now have to spend more time on the road.
“I was going to cut out my seven-horse truck and go down to my three horse float, but that won’t be happening now,” he said.
Rae has enjoyed several decades based in the winterless north and said his northern base was made possible by the deeds of Group One winner Egyptian Raine.
“We bought her mother in-foal for $300,” Rae said. “Egyptian Raine hurt herself a couple of times and then she started running along and she was pretty quick – erratic, but quick.
“She won the Railway (Gr.1, 1200m) and then I said to one of the guys (owners) ‘should we have a shot at Aussie?’
“So we went over and she never came home. She was sold for $950,000 and I was able to buy a freehold property. Her brother (Egyptian Ra) had five placings and we sold him for $760,000. He won HK$25 million in Hong Kong.”
Egyptian Raine’s sale came at a much needed time for Rae, who admitted he wasn’t doing well financially at the time.
“When we won the Railway we could hardly afford the diesel to get to the races,” he said.
“When we took her to Australia we stayed in some dirty, grotty hotel for about $40 per night and just penny pinched. When she won and went up to Sydney we stayed at Coogee Beach at the best motel.
“That mare was a license to print money.”
The financial viability of his business hasn’t always been so lucrative and Rae said he has utilised other revenue streams to help keep his business ticking over.
“I have been rearing calves every year. I reared 60 calves last year to carry me through,” he said.
Meanwhile, Rae said he is looking forward to the resumption of racing, particularly getting some of his rising two-year-olds to the track next season.
“I have got some really nice rising two-year-olds coming up. I love them, you don’t know what you have got. When they are four and five you know what you have got.”