IN Racing
Boys Get Paid bring Karaka Million night to life
The atmosphere generated by a large group of racing enthusiasts in attendance for Boys Get Paid brings Ellerslie to life.
NZ Racing Desk | January 23, 2022
Members of the Boys Get Paid group enjoying their evening at Ellerslie

First time racegoers to Ellerslie on Saturday evening could have been forgiven if they thought they had mistakenly turned up to a football match, such was the noise and atmosphere generated by a large group of racing enthusiasts in attendance under the unique moniker of Boys Get Paid.

Karaka Million night at Ellerslie has become synonymous with the involvement of Boys Get Paid (BGP), a group that started off in 2011 as a bunch of mates who liked to back a winner and have plenty of fun talking about it within that circle of friends both via social media and in-person.

The snowball effect has become a phenomenon, and what started out as around twenty people quickly became 1000 or more, to the point where the formal membership of the group now sits at over 18,000.

With those sorts of numbers involved, the punting opportunities were massive as the BGP concept spread with numerous raceday functions added to the informal social calendar and more importantly for New Zealand racing, the introduction of national punters club activities that were open to both members and non-members of the group and helped fuel betting turnover on selected racemeetings.

The Karaka Million meeting is one that BGP has targeted for both social interaction and a massive Punters Club that reached its zenith this year with an incredible starting pool of over $660,000.

Aucklander Luke Kemeys is one of the public faces of BGP and he was in the thick of the action on the night as more than 800 BGP affiliated members swamped the top floor of the main Ellerslie grandstand and brought the noise as they chanted home the punters club selections in each race.

“We had a pretty big night and it was super successful,” Kemeys said.

“I’m not sure but I think our starting pool was possibly a world record for an activity like this and is the culmination of years of momentum that we have generated on this night.

“We had 7500 people throughout the country put their money into the pool which is quite incredible when you think about it.

“The buzz in the room was electric and it is the experience for racing that all of the boys and girls wanted when we first got together as mates all those years ago.”

That excitement was fueled by a successful $50,000 win bet on the first race winner Rapid Falls, which netted a $275,000 return which was quickly followed by a $100,000 return from race three winner Sword Of State.

Selectors for the club went for broke with a $137,000 two leg multi bet to return a neat $1 million if the Jamie Richards-trained Dynastic could win the Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) and the Stephen Marsh-trained Miss Ella could find a place in the top three in the last race on the card, the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m).

“One of our goals was to try and get home a $1 million collect and when we announced the bet the room just went crazy,” Kemeys said.

“When Dynastic won the place went nuts as Jamie and Opie Bosson (jockey) have been key elements for BGP over many years, so the familiar chants (‘there’s only one Opie Bosson’) broke out and you could have cut the atmosphere with a knife as they lined up in the last.

“When Miss Ella hit the front at the 250m I thought we were home, but she just couldn’t see it out and ran sixth in the end.

“It was a bit of a heart breaker, but that $1 million collect is something we want to achieve, and I guess there is always next year.

“In the end we returned a $176,000 profit so everyone got their money back and then some ($1.27 per $1 share), so I don’t think you can complain about that as it was a hell of a night.”

Kemeys is quick to pay tribute to the many people and groups that help BGP put their activities together, not least the New Zealand TAB who have embraced the concept with open arms.

“When we started off, I think people thought we were just a bunch of louts who drank and bet too much,” he said.

“That perception has definitely changed, but we couldn’t do what we do without support from so many people.

“I have a massive thanks to the team at Ellerslie, New Zealand Bloodstock and the TAB for helping us out.

“When we approached the TAB a few years ago with the idea of this punters club they were a little daunted, but they have really come to the party and made it so easy for people to get involved.

“On the night we had George Simon (commentator) keeping everyone informed which was also a big help.

“I know there were a few trainers and jockeys feeling the heat a little when they knew we had backed them.

“I know someone mistakenly told Ben Foote that we had a $1 million result if Babylon Berlin won and he was sweating bullets before her race, so it was great she won even though the bet wasn’t on her.”

Kemeys also has plenty of first-hand evidence that what BGP do throughout the year has had a positive spin-off for New Zealand racing.

“One of the things we have always been keen on was to take the concept beyond just the punting and to get people involved in racing their own horses where they could,” he said.

“Last night I caught up with a couple who had been with us a few times on this night and last year they took it further and bought their first share in one of the Te Akau Racing syndicates at the yearling sales.

“They took a share in a horse called Fellini who came out and ran third in the $1 million two-year-old race, so what a way to kick off as an owner.

“We also had a bloke come all the way from the UK for the night. He is a member of BGP and did the whole quarantine stint in MIQ just to be here.

“That is commitment, but it is the sort of influence we can have on racing here and if we can get others to develop a love for the sport like we have then it is all worth it.”

Kemeys also announced that the BGP syndicate would be back in the market at the upcoming National Yearling sale at Karaka in March after purchasing an Iffraaj filly at the 2021 sale.

“We bought our filly that we named Iff I Get Paaid and she has had one start before heading out for a short spell.

“She is back in work at Te Akau Racing, so we are going to the sales this year to buy two more yearlings.

“We will be keeping everyone up to date on our website ( or via social media, so it will pay to check in and to get involved.”

Ellerslie Boys Get Paid Karaka Million