Lysaght finds his dream girl



For Phil Lysaght of Te Aroha, racing has always been in his life in some way shape of form. But up until the start of last year ownership had never been a factor.

That was until a chance discovery on Facebook introduced him to his dream girl, Barbie.  

“I’ve always had an interest in horse racing, and family members raced horses and were in syndicates and I fed off that. I thought why not get a horse myself?” explained Lysaght. “I had been keeping an eye out for ownership opportunities and then spotted something on Facebook with Arna Donnelly. I enquired and it ticked all the boxes and here we are!”

The horse Lysaght joined into is Baquero, affectionately known as Barbie, who has already had one win from just four career starts.

He is one of fourteen members of the Ready To Rumble Syndicate, who share ownership in the three-year-old filly along with breeders Steve and Anne Phillips and the AK and CR Syndicate.

The initial signs as a two-year-old were promising for the daughter of Shadow Play.

“When I saw the very first workout video of Barbie it confirmed she was pretty good. Before that I had no idea what I had got into,” explained Lysaght. “After viewing that I realized wow, she’s definitely promising!”

And it wasn’t long until the connections of Baquero would see her translate that workout form into race night success.

She made her debut as a three-year-old at Alexandra Park last September, and started a very warm $2 favourite for the event.

The moments leading up to that race were a whole new experience for Lysaght.

“The adrenaline rush thirty seconds before the start of a race is the best part of owning a horse. I’m not sure how everyone else is feeling, but it’s pretty intense. I’m buzzing!”

That buzz turned into elation soon after, as Scott Phelan piloted the promising filly to a half-head victory for trainer Arna Donnelly and the owners.

“The victory on debut was amazing. And she will never have another debut, so that was very special,” said Lysaght.

And it has started a wave of support from his friends and family, many of which are novices when it comes to following racing.

“My family are totally into it, and a lot of my mates have been texting me asking how to place a bet as they’ve never backed a horse before. I think I’ve also convinced a few galloping people that harness is the way to go. The fact that it’s usually in the evening is appealing for them because it means you have your day free too.”

And although he is taking each race as it comes his goals are simple.

“I just want to enjoy it. Win, lose or draw. It’s great fun and always makes for an awesome night out.”

“I don’t expect too much as racing is a tough game. Although it would be cool one day to make it into a big race.”

“I’d also like to make mention of Arna Donnelly and syndicate manager Angela Bedwell, who have been great to deal with. They’ve made it a thoroughly enjoyable ownership experience, and thanks to them for passing on their immense knowledge,” said Lysaght.“Also I would like to thank the Auckland Trotting Club for making us feel so welcome. They went out of their way to help us first time owners find our way around and treated us like heroes when we were lucky enough to get a victory.”

And Lysaght can’t recommend getting involved in a horse enough to others.

“If you like having a punt you may as well be in a horse. The bang for your buck is amazing!”

“I’ve really enjoyed going into the stables before and after the racing and seeing what goes on, meeting a few legends of the trade and learning a whole lot more about harness racing.”

“I’ll always have a share in a horse now. I was tempted to jump in on another one Arna was syndicating but I didn’t want to upset Barbie,” Lysaght joked.


For more information on how you can get involved in ownership, please contact Jess Smith at Harness Racing New Zealand – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.