It is a great thrill to be recognised by ones’ peers to receive this award and to know all the hard work behind it was very worthwhile.
It was said to me many years ago the most successful thoroughbred studs were built around a great mare who has established a successful family within that stud.
Back in 1964 Ngaire and I were married and had just a couple of horses in training and we thought we could win the NZ Derby with one, but that horse broke down in his final gallop.
So with little material to race I approached my mother to ask if she would lend us 1000 pounds to go to the yearling sales to buy a nice filly. Mum agreed and off we went to Trentham and while Ngaire plaited manes and tails to earn money, I studied every filly in the catalogue. My final choice was a filly by Fairs Fare out of Rag from a good Okawa family. She came into the ring and I thought she was mine at 1000 pounds but then Joe Bromby who had earlier success with a foal out of Rag bid 1025 pounds.
This was above our limit but I then hoped Ngaire had enough cash with her manes and tails for me to make one more bid of 1050 pounds so moments later she was ours.
We named the filly Mary Poppins and with top class speed she became a leading two year old. At stud she proved a wonderful broodmare establishing a family of group one winners.
Three years later a friend Ewan Cameron, for who we had broken in some horses for, approached me with $8000 to invest in a nice filly and could I find one that we could race in partnership. Soon after that J.G. Alexander put a Lefilou filly from the Cinna family on the market for $8000. Next day I rushed down to Wanganui to see her, a lovely type but like so many Lefilous a bit straight in the front legs. All the way home I argued with myself – pedigree and good looks verses straight front legs. Five minutes before our option ended I rang and said yes we would take her.
Six months later now named Kind Regards she won the Great Northern Oaks and then at stud produced the wonderful race horse and sire Vice Regal and his sister and dual Railway winner Valencia.
Continuing to potter around with just a few of my own home breeds, we had an incredible season in 1989 led by Phillipa Rush sweeping all before her in her two year old season. We only had two three year olds in training with Phillipa Rush continuing on her winning way for the first half of the season. Then our other three year old Domino took over by winning the N.Z. Oaks followed by the A.J.C. Oaks is still the only filly to have won the major Oaks of both countries.
WHAT A SEASON!!
Our good luck continued a few years later when Emerald and Hero combined to win the One Thousand Guineas and the N.Z. Two Thousand Guineas in four days.
Since buying the two fillies back in the sixties everything we have raced we have bred, many of which were rejects of the yearling sales.
To be honoured by N.Z. racing with this prodigious award is the major highlight of my life.
I also thank those two wonderful fillies Mary Poppins and Kind Regards for their contribution to the development of Chequers Stud. I also thank Ngaire for her hard work beside me for the first 20 yrs developing the Stud.