Horse breeders follow their noses

Breeding standard bred trotting and pacing horses is a far cry from building houses and selling real estate for former Dunedin businessman Tom Richardson.

He and his wife Loretta (they got married at Easter) recently bought the former Chatto Creek golf course and intend to grow both lucerne and horses.

They have taken over Alan McLellan Real Estate in Alexandra, and also offer a business brokerage service for Link. Mr Richardson comes from a building background in Southland and ever since he was a boy has enjoyed breeding animals, from silky bantams, to Southdown sheep and pigeons, and he once owned a Belgium blue stud.

He has always had a passion for horses, and his ultimate goal is to breed the best horse possible.

''The attraction for me is to get the right physical characteristics, athleticism and mental attitude, which is so important, and that is the hardest thing to achieve,'' Mr Richardson said.

''They have got to want to be a racehorse and it is amazing how much they do want to do it.''

His first brood mare, which he bought when he was 28, 43 years ago, was Bonnie Saga, owned through syndication.

''She was a good wee horse, winning three races, and cost $450.

''I bred several foals off her over the years.''

He has bred some top horses, many of which have achieved varying levels of success, both through racing or their subsequent progeny selling for good prices at the national sales.

These included progeny from Cheer Leader, one of Southland's Regina line, while Cruising was sold to people in the United States, where he won several races.

''We have had our share of wins,'' he said.

One of his favourite horses was a little filly called Nukes Emerald, which he and his syndicate, bought in the late 1980s for $90,000.

He said she was bred from ''the best-bred stallion in the world, No Nukes'', which was the all time highest earning pacing sire in the US at the time.

''She was such a good specimen of a horse and ahead of her time,'' he said.

As she was born on March 7, she was much younger than other horses in her year.

She was trained by the late Jack Smolenski, who developed a special programme for her.

At 23 months, she won the Invercargill Licensing Trust's 2-year-old pace, then she went to Auckland and came second in a $120,000 race.

She eventually was sent to the United States, where she also did well for the syndicate.

However, while at Ontario, she and 68 other horses died in a huge barn fire in 1992.

Since then, he has stuck with the Regina line, breeding four generations from her.

He also bred Arts Filly, which has been sold but is still racing. Now Mr and Mrs Richardson have settled in Central Otago, they intend to raise a couple of foals each year for the annual Christchurch yearling sales.

Mr Richardson would like to win the New Zealand Cup, and while there was little profit in his hobby, he loves the challenge.

His most recent animal, Arts Fellow has recently been sent to Tom Kilkelly's stables in Southland for training.

- yvonne.ohara@alliedpress.co.nz