Thursday, October 9, 2014
By Shelley Caldwell-Topp
He’s 86 years young and has been involved with harness horses since the day he bought Petronella, 37 years ago. It was an inspired, well-researched decision that has taken him and his family on an exciting ride.
1) You recently won the Pacing Breeder of the Year at the Canterbury Breeders, Owners, and Trainers and Drivers Awards. How did that feel?
“Icing on the cake, my passion being breeding from when I was a kid.”
2) As the breeder of Tiger Tara, it must be thrilling to see him racing so well.
3) What was he like as a foal?
“Tiger Tara and Class Of Tara were two bloody nice foals.”
4) When did you sell him and why?
“I had three Bettor’s Delights, a filly and two colts. I was pretty crook at the time. I gave a half share in the three of them to Wayne Higgs to train. He suggested giving Greg Payne a half share to get them going and sell. Geoff Dunn trialled Tiger Tara from there. Geoff later told me he couldn’t believe his luck to get a horse like that.”
5) Do you still own his dam, Tara Gold?
“No, my son Grant and a friend, Tim Grant, own her.”
6) The purple patch of form last year when Tiger Tara won 6 races in a row, including the Group One $165,000 NRM Si res Stakes Series Final at Addington on November 12 was a very special achievement. Were you able to attend those race meetings?
“No, I was watching it at home on (his 50-inch) TV.”
7) Do you have any horses of your own in work? If so what are their names and who are they in work with?
“I haven’t got any in work, and only have one horse at the moment. My heart will not let her go. She is a half-sister to Tiger’s mother. Her name’s Tara Delight and she is at Nevele R Stud getting in foal to A Rocknroll Dance.”
8) How long have you been involved with Harness Racing?
“Since the day I bought Petronella, (great, great, grand-dam of Tiger Tara) 37 years ago.”
9) Aside from Tiger Tara, what are the best of the other horses have you bred/owned/raced over the years?
“Vita Man, Mystic Gold, Matthew Lee, and Power Of Tara.”
10) What do you love most about Harness Racing?
“The challenge in breeding. Breeding has been my passion.”
11) Are any of your family members involved in harness racing?
“My son Grant is breeding from Tara Gold.”
12) Do you and your family go to the races frequently?
“Grant does. He will take a week off for the New Zealand Cup.”
13) What is your favourite race track in New Zealand and why?
“I won my first race at Winton with Vita Man, so that is pretty special.”
14) What is the best experience you have had on a race track and why?
“Winning the Easter Cup with Matthew Lee, at Addington in 1995, and the Southland Oaks with Mystic Gold, at Winton in 1997, where I got the trifecta, a big collect.”
15) Have you seen any harness racing overseas? If so, where?
“Racing Vita Man in Perth was a lot of fun.”
16) Tiger Tara is by Bettor’s Delight. He is a phenomenally successful stallion but what in particular made you decide to breed Tara Gold to him?
“He was the best-performed stallion I could lay my hands on.”
17) You have had a long involvement in harness racing. What made you stay involved when so many others are leaving our industry?
“Breeding horses is my passion.”
18) What is the best meal you have ever had on a racetrack?
“I haven’t found one yet.”
19) If there was one thing you could change in harness racing what would it be?
“You have got to change the stakes. Horses that can only win one or two races won’t pay their way.”
20) If someone asked you for advice on whether they should become involved in harness racing, and how they should go about doing so, what would you say to them?
`Buy a well-bred broodmare. That will lead you right in. Do your homework. Get advice from someone who has been there and done that