Breeder Profile - Graham Gimblett
- 08 February 2018
By Brad Reid - NZ Standardbred Breeders Association
Paramount King was almost the forgotten horse of the two-year-old Ruby on Jewels day last year.
That was until he put pay to the best crop of juvenile trotters in recent memory.
The flashy chestnut son of Love You snuck under the guard of many punters, reflected in his tote price of $10. Co-breeder Graham Gimblett didn’t need reminding how good Paramount King was as in recent years, the progeny of his mare Paramount Star have come up trumps.
Last season’s Two Year Old Trotter of the year makes his race day return tonight at Cambridge and looks well placed in his race day resumption.
His co-breeder Graham Gimblett can hardly wait!
Not only has Gimblett tasted success with standardbreds but can boast to have bred multiple Group One winner and Melbourne Cup placegetter Xcellent as his first thoroughbred foal! More on that later.
His hobby and love of breeding has been a long road. However, the fourth-generation cattle & dairy farmer from Dannevirke concedes that for all his attempts at breeding champions, it was the breed right under his nose that has served him best.
His father John was farming at a time when it was common to have a horse in the paddock.
And that’s where the love affair starts.
“My father had a mare dropped off to him in the 1940’s that was never picked up. It was at a time when it was common to have a horse in the paddock and being a farmer he had a bit of knowledge of horsemanship.”
That mare was Lady Errol (1947 B m Robert Earl - Kaimata Daisy). She was untried as a race horse but was bred from in 1953 when served by Lucky Hanover, a pacing bred stallion who threw 2 trotting winners from his 22 race winning foals.
One of which was the first foal from Lady Errol; Lassie Hanover (1953). She won twice and placed on 14 other occasions becoming the foundation for which Graham’s father John would breed and race horses with for the next twenty years.
“Dad always had a horse or two, and at the time it was quite a social thing. He used to lease his horses out prior to breeding from Lassie Hanover but when he retired from the farm to a property on the outskirts of Dannevirke in 1968, he brought them back and started training them himself.
The first foal from Lassie Hanover was Frosty Lass which Gimblett’s father was to train for six of her nine victories. Pretty impressive for a self-taught horseman who then gave the mare to John Dickie’s father Ivan to train where she was good enough to run second in the 1971 Rowe Cup. As history suggests later with the breed, the Dickie’s have been there almost every step of the way.
“My father sold her to the States shortly after that but then along came Darky Forbes.”
Darky Forbes (1966 Bl g Hi Lo's Forbes - Lassie Hanover) was to win 11 races including the 1974 National Trot with a young Mike De Fillipi in the sulky and Colin Berkett doing the training. Gimblett’s father is credited with no less than six of the victories of the trotter that had run second in a Dominion Handicap 6 weeks earlier which was taken out by Easton Light. The son of Hi Los Forbes also won a heat of the 1975 Interdominion Trotting Series before too being sold to the United States.
The first two foals from Lassie Hanover were unique as like their mum, they were dual-gaited.
While Lassie Hanover only qualified as a pacer, her first two foals raced in both gaits. Frosty Lass won three of her nine as a pacer with Darky Forbes winning once in the pacing gait also. They were after all by pacing stallions!
Fourth foal Karen Maree won four races with two being credited to John Gimblett and the other two to Charlie Hunter NZOM. She wasn’t to split her deeds by gait racing exclusively as a pacer.
She was the mare the Gimblett’s continued to breed from with Graham joining his father John in breeding his first standardbred in 1978 with the mare’s second foal, Karen’s Trowbridge (1978 Trowbridge – M). Karen’s Trowbridge paced. As did her older sister Karen’s Rainbow (1977 Adover Rainbow). Sadly, Graham’s father passed before ever seeing the foal they bred together race.
“When my father died in 1981 I had a couple of horses looking across the fence at me on the farm. One of them was the third foal from Karen Maree, Karanero (1980 Bl m Lonero - Karen Maree). I’d only really helped gear a few harness horses up but I didn’t know too much about the training of them. I’d driven but as for the shoeing, feeding and the racing I had never been involved.
What’s a man to do when he has a couple of horses in the paddock asking to be put in work? Get himself a trainer’s license of course!
“At that time, Stephen Argue was actually based in Palmerston North and he helped me a bit getting started and there were lot of very helpful people in Palmerston.”
Karanero was the first horse that Graham Gimblett took to the races as a trainer. She won five races in his care, her fifth at Auckland over two miles was achieved after master trainers Barry & Roy Purdon had lined her up for six starts managing only two second placings!
“That is probably my biggest thrill in racing actually. I floated her all the way up to Auckland from Dannevirke and she can’t of enjoyed the trip as she ran dead last the first week. I decided to stay up there and train her in Auckland at Dave Jessop’s property. We came out the next week and won at Alexandra Park and I’ll never forget that.”
Her last start was a 10th in the 1990 Rowe Cup where she received exactly half the stake money her dam’s sister Frosty Lass had been afforded in 1971 when running second in the same race.
“That’s inflation for ya!” joked Gimblett.
“Karanero was like the other foals of Karen Maree in that she was bred to pace, but she only managed one third and after about eight starts we put some trotting shoes on her. Well away she went, it was quite unbelievable. We had given up on her until we tried her as a trotter and away she went. Ever since that day when I realised she had the trotting genes I’ve only ever bred to trotting sires.”
The first foal from Karanero was Jay H Gee (1992 g Gee Whizz) who won three races for Frank Phelan from only 16 starts.
The second foal was the first of many ‘Paramounts’ for Gimblett. The moniker came about while brainstorming for the name of a milk station.
“We were trying to come up with a name for a milking station in Masterton and the names ‘Apex’ and ‘Paramount’ were the ones being bandied about. We ended up settling on ‘Apex’ but I decided ‘Paramount’ would be a keeper for my horses.”
Paramount Jack (1993 Gee Whiz II g) showed plenty of ability winning seven of his first ten starts in the care of Frank Phelan. As he started reaching a tough mark Gimblett decided his future racing was best to continue down south.
“I sent him down to Paul Nairn because I worked out that while Jack was talented, we were only winning $3000 races around the Manawatu region while horses of his class were racing for much more down south.”
It took the son of Gee Whiz II a while to settle into the South Island but during Cup Week in 2000, he ran a third on Cup Day behind Take A Moment before winning a $15,000 race on Show Day.
Before being sold to America, Paramount Jack won 12 races and ran third again behind Take A Moment, this time in the 2001 Dominion Handicap.
The next two foals were also by Gee Whizz II. Zesty (1995) won five races before being sold to Phillip Iggo to breed from leaving nice types like Armori (4 wins – 21 placings.)
Gee F Gee (1996) won four races in the care of John Dickie some 30 years after his father Ivan had trained a trotter from the Gimblett breed.
The next foal was Paramount Star, a talented trotter of seven wins (also for John Dickie) where she also managed a third in the 2003 Greenlane Cup. Upon her race retirement, Gimblett decided a change was in order for him to continue with his hobby and passion of breeding Standardbreds.
“Dannevirke was a tough placed to be involved in those times, I was involved in administration as the president of the Manawatu Trotting Club for a number of years. We were racing for poor stakes, Hutt Park was winding down and I became pretty disillusioned with it all to be honest. I had become good friends with Brian West who I instructed to take the mare down to Christchurch and see if we couldn’t breed anything that was any good!”
“I had just bought a galloping broodmare and put her in foal to Pentire.”
The resulting foal was one of the most freakish gallopers to come out of New Zealand since the turn of the century. He ran third in the 2005 Melbourne Cup after winning the NZ Derby, NZ, Mudgway & Kelp Capital Stakes.
“Xcellent was a great thrill and a bit of a surprise to be honest. You don’t really expect to breed a horse like that and he was running for a wee bit more money than some of my other horses had.”
Xcellent broke down during the running of the Trentham Stakes in 2008, abruptly ending the career of one of the most promising horses to grace an NZ turf.
Gimblett didn’t have to wait long for another champion to appear as the first foal he and Brian West bred together out of Paramount Star was sold through the yearling sales in 2009 for $28,000 to John Dickie.
“He was a massive yearling and that probably counted against him a wee bit. But it was great to see him heading to the Dickies.”
Paramount Gee Gee was the third foal from Paramount Star and in 2010 was named two-year-old Trotting Colt of the Year. He won the NZ Sales Series, Trotting Stakes & Breeders Crown in his juvenile season.
After running second by a head to Kylie Ree in the Hambletonian he was never beaten again as a three-year-old winning both Derbies, the Sires Stake & Sales Series, Harness Jewels and Breeders Crown in 2011. Good enough for another age group Horse of the Year title.
As a four year old he won the Trotters Championship but was riddled with injuries. He sadly died in 2012 having amassed a whopping $561,000 in stakes.
“Brian had been over in France on holiday and came back with the idea that we needed to breed to the French Stallion, Love You. He has to take the credit for the success of the mare in that regard as she has been a wonderful producer when mated with that stallion.”
Paramount Star has been a wonderful producer whoever she is mated with as seen below;
2005: Ellevenfiftyseven (Malabar Maple) | 16 Starts, 2 wins, 3 placings. $13,228
2006: Nonippin | (Earl) | Qualified but unraced.
2007: Paramount Gee Gee (Pegasus Spur) | 30 Starts, 17 wins, 6 placings. $561,342
2009: Paramount Queen (Love You) | 27 Starts, 8 wins, 12 placings. $122,612.
(3rd 2YO Trotting Stakes, 3rd 2YO Sires Stakes, 3rd 2YO Ruby, 1st Hambletonian, 2nd NZ Oaks, 3rd 3YO Ruby, 2nd Cambridge Flying Mile)
2010: Paramount Bliss (Majestic Son) $50,000 Yearling Sales Purchase | Unraced.
2011: Paramount Dream (Pegasus Spur) $50,000 Yearling Sales Purchase | 28 Starts, 8 wins, 5 placings. $69,496.
2012: Paramount Faith (Pegasus Spur) $48,000 Yearling Sales Purchase | Unraced
2014: Paramount King (Love You) $110,000 Yearling Sales Purchase | 8 Starts, 4 wins, 1 placing. $64,982.
2015: Paramount Prince (Andover Hall) $35,000 Yearling Sales Purchase
Her progeny has combined for 39 wins and four Jewels starters from seven foals of racing age.
Paramount King’s win in the two-year-old Ruby last year was particularly sweet for Gimblett who these days gets his kicks out of simply being the breeder and following his stock.
“John offered me a share in Paramount King but living where I do it’s pretty hard to get to the races and it’s not the same just watching it on the TV. For me breeding horses is another facet of my farming and I’m lucky to have it as a hobby. I get just as much from following the horses Brian and I are breeding from and it’s great to have another good one like Paramount King racing.
Paramount Star this year produced a Muscle Hill filly after having missed in the 2016 season.
“Paramount Queen should make a wonderful broodmare being by Love You and Brian and I are breeding from her also. Paramount Star is getting on a bit now so I’m hopeful her daughters will continue with the same success”
Paramount Queen was served this year by Andover Hall and following on from a wonderful race career, will no doubt carry on the family line that has served the Gimblett’s (and Dickie’s!!) so well for 70 years.
Co-breeder Brian West has little doubt it will touting that everything Graham Gimblett does is brushed with gold.
With the Paramount mares and a full sister to Xcellent to continue breeding from, the golden run should continue a while yet.