New Year's Honour for Peter Vela

Peter Vela has received the ultimate acknowledgment for his services to the thoroughbred industry with a knighthood in the New Year honours list.

“Extremely humbling was my first emotion and then very proud for myself, my family and friends and it’s a wonderful recognition for the industry as a whole,” Sir Peter said. “It’s an amazing surprise, a shock and an enormous thrill.”

The New Zealand Bloodstock and Pencarrow Stud principal has been an active breeder, owner and administrator for more than 40 years.

Ethereal, Darci Brahma, Romanee Conti, Noble Heights, Riverina Charm, Star Dancer, Hoeberg, Clear Rose, Grand Echezeaux, Vapour Trail, Insouciant, Maarek and Guiseppina are among the many top-flight performers bred or raced by his Cambridge farm.

“I didn’t think Romanee Conti’s win in the Hong Kong Cup could be surpassed and then her daughter Ethereal came along and won the Melbourne and Caulfield Cups, the BMW and the Queensland Oaks and she’s got to be the racing highlight for me,” Sir Peter said.

“As far as breeding goes, it’s Darci Brahma. He’s done everything from top yearling to champion two and three-year-old and first season sire."

Sir Peter Vela with James McDonald

In 1996 with his brother Philip, Sir Peter acquired Wrightson Bloodstock and renamed as New Zealand Bloodstock the auction house has been, and continues to be, a major success and influence on the industry.

NZB has also established a leasing and finance business to support New Zealand breeders in acquiring thoroughbred bloodstock, enabling on-going improvement of breeding stock.

In 1998 Sir Peter was instrumental in the establishment of New Zealand Thoroughbred Marketing to promote the country’s industry on the global stage. His companies have sponsored numerous races and events both at home and overseas, including providing vital support for the establishment of New Zealand’s Racing Hall of Fame, New Zealand’s richest thoroughbred race the Karaka Million, and in 2013 a unique bonus series to encourage a greater focus on breeding excellence in fillies.

Sir Peter has also provided sponsorship for Sir Mark Todd’s Olympic efforts, assistance for Australian and New Zealand representatives to attend the Queen’s Jubilee pageant, and support for several medical charities.

He has also been a major influence on the career of top international jockey James McDonald and the pair combined at Taupo on Monday for a victory with the home-bred mare Biddable.

“It was lovely to have him back and it reminded me how much I miss him and his riding,” he said.

Sir Peter also established Vela Fishing with his brother Philip in 1976 and the company is now the largest privately-owned quota holder in the country and played a major role in developing key international markets for New Zealand seafood.

Made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to racing in 2002, Sir Peter amicably split his business interests earlier this year and took over the thoroughbred operations with Philip concentrating on the fishing business.

Two further racing identities were also acknowledged in the Honours List with Karyn Fenton-Ellis becoming a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and Don McLaren a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

A director of Te Akau Racing in New Zealand and Singapore, Mrs Fenton-Ellis has been a trail-blazer for New Zealand racing broadcasting as an inaugural presenter for Trackside TV and Radio Trackside. Elected as Chair of the Waikato Racing Club in 2013, she is also a member of the New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing’s Members’ Council.

Mr McLaren founded the veterinary pharmaceutical company Bomac Laboratories in 1958 and was elected a Life Member of the New Zealand Veterinary Association Equine Branch in 2012. Chairman of New Zealand Thoroughbred Marketing from 2000 to 2002, he is also a past Chairman of the Auckland Racing Club and currently operates the successful Northfields Stud.

NZ Racing Desk.