Age-old method moulds Majestic Sunset
By Garrick Knight
A technique honed over more than 60 years of training horses has helped transform Majestic Sunset, a winner at Phar Lap Raceway in Timaru on Sunday.
The four-year-old trotter was a freebie for his 86-year-old Christchurch trainer, Ivan Schwamm, who says he thinks his charge can go right through the grades.
“I got him for nothing off Bruce Negus. Bruce bred him, and trained him, but didn’t really like him.
“So, he sent him to Bruce Hutton, who put him on the jogging machine for five or six weeks, but he sent then it home saying it was going to take a long time to get him going.
“I had a great association with Bruce Negus’ late father, Bob, and that’s what prompted him to offer me the horse.
“He said he thought it might come right for me after working down the roadside and he was right.”
Schwamm, who turns 87 later this week, says he finds the benefits of training on the roadside similar to that of another common training method.
“The straight-line training is just like they do on the beach. I do it on one of the side roads in Springston, on the grass verge.
“This horse has actually been quite well-mannered since I got him, he was just very fat and used to blow like hell.
“He couldn’t really get around the corners in his first few races so I worked away at that and got him sorted.
“But as I’ve worked him down, he’s changed in to a new horse.
“I never put him on a track or work him with anyone other horses and he seems to like it that way.:
Jimmy Curtin did the driving for Schwamm yesterday and despite sitting parked, he nursed the horse home with expert poise in a close finish.
“I’ve known Jimmy since he was a 10-year-old boy.
“He’s an excellent horseman and did the right thing by the horse today.
“He could have asked him to go at the two furlongs and taken the ‘lick’ out of him, but he never really asked him until short of the line.”
Schwamm gifted a half share in Majestic Sunset to Burnham couple, Phil and Ginge Silcock as a gesture for them letting him stable the horse at their property.
“They are such nice people to me that I thought it was the right thing to do.
“When you get to my age, it’s lovely to have good friends because you look around and many of them aren’t there anymore.
“Some have passed away and others just can’t do anything and it gets to the stage that you lose contact with people.”
Which is part of the reason Schwamm continues to train horses when most his age are in retirement homes.
“It was so great at the races today, the number of people that called out to me, owners, trainers, drivers – many of them I’ve known for years and years.
“It’s a fellowship and I love it.”