Racing will always remain a passionate distraction for prominent owner Ozzie Kheir to escape the pressures of running a successful property development business.

Ozzie Kheir
Ozzie Kheir is determined to keep his business and racing interests separate. (Photo: Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images).

Ozzie Kheir buys racehorses from all over the globe, but he refuses to blur the lines between his extensive thoroughbred interests and any commercialisation of a bloodstock portfolio that is the envy of most in racing.

Kheir has an unbridled passion for racing, which has been parlayed into triumphs in the Melbourne Cup, the Caulfield Cup, the Cox Plate, and Australia’s richest race, the $20 million Everest.

He spends a lot of money on bloodstock as a release mechanism from his position as a founding director and chief executive of Resimax Group, one of the largest privately owned property developers in Victoria.

Horses such as Scarlet Oak and Molly Bloom - two fillies who are central to discussions about the outcome of the Queensland Oaks - are the embodiment of Kheir’s instinct for buying quality bloodstock.

They have been sourced from New Zealand and go into the race as the fillies to beat.

But it is another Oaks runner that perhaps best puts into perspective how Kheir lives for his racing and why he is never going to turn his devotion to the sport into business.

His association with Mare Of Mt Buller was forged out of a friendship with racing partner Brae Sokolski.

Riding racing’s ups and downs with people who are close to him is important. Celebrating the wins and draining your sorrows after the losses.

“I'm very fortunate I’ve got a share in Mare Of Mt Buller,” Kheir told The Straight.

“Brae was in the horse early on and I wasn’t. But Brae really liked her and he actually gifted me a share as a present very early on the piece.”

Kheir’s Oaks runners are just three horses among an ownership commitment that hovers between 50 to 75 in training with most of Australia’s biggest stables.

If one of them wins on Saturday, their residual value as a broodmare will skyrocket but Kheir is adamant his involvement with fillies is not part of a long-term strategy to expand and monetize his breeding interests.

“I do a little bit of breeding, so it’s always nice to buy a filly that has some residual value,” he said.

“But I’m more of a racing person than a breeder. I race with a group of friends, similar groups between horses.

“So, at the end of their racing careers, we will sell them, but if I choose to buy them back, I will buy them back to breed from.

“But generally, when they’ve finished racing, the best thing to do is put them on the market.”

Mare Of Mt Buller won't carry Kheir's colours but will carry his hopes at Eagle Farm. (Photo: Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Kheir was among the ownership group left heartbroken when Verry Elleegant died from complications while foaling.

It was a bitter end to an association with a mare who climbed the summit of spring racing with her victories in the 2020 Caulfield Cup and the 2021 Melbourne Cup.

Kheir keeps his breeding interests to a strict number - no more than 10 broodmares - to ensure the romance of racing isn’t consumed by a need to keep tabs on a bottom line.

Approaches to expand his thoroughbred empire to something more significant have been politely declined for fear it could drain his enthusiasm for the industry.

“The breeding side of things probably becomes more of a business in my mind,” he said.

“You’ve got to make decisions about whether you’re going to sell horses to pay for the next service fees and so forth.

“I’ve got enough businesses that I’m worried about without turning racing into another one.

“Racing’s my outlet. Once you turn something into a business you just start to look at things differently.”

“I’ve got enough businesses that I’m worried about without turning racing into another one." - Ozzie Kheir

For Kheir, it’s all about finding the next champion racehorse.

His racing manager is Mat Becker, the owner of Group 1 Bloodstock. He oversees a buying strategy that includes annual yearling sales purchases, consistent New Zealand acquisitions and European forays that have led to Cox Plate glory with horses such as Sir Dragonet.

“Mat’s eyes go through everything to make sure that it’s the right purchase,” Kheir said.

“Everything we race has to get his tick of approval. He helps me with all of that and sorts out the good and the bad.

“He is one of the reasons why I enjoy my racing.”

Among Kheir’s Oaks runners, it’s a fairly simple exercise to present a winning case for Scarlet Oak and Molly Bloom because they are strongly favoured to run the quinella.

They have promising records, the expert conditioning provided by marquee trainers, respectively Chris Waller and the Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott partnership, and the experienced navigational skills of leading riders James McDonald and Blake Shinn.

But if there is truth to the adage of never looking a gift horse in the mouth, Mare Of Mt Buller might be the one that means the most.

From Rough Habit to Molly Bloom - a family’s Doomben legacy continues
Few racehorses made the Queensland winter carnival their own more than Rough Habit and the champion New Zealander’s feats, and family, will be strongly connected to Saturday’s Doomben Cup meeting.