Graeme Trist - more than half a century as a hobby breeder
By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk
After more than fifty years, Graeme Trist has decided to call time on breeding horses.
Best known for his association with 2001 New Zealand Cup champion Kym's Girl, Trist says all things must come to an end.
"I'm just round the corner from 80," says Trist, "so my age and health are the main reasons."
Trist is the epitome of a hobby breeder, based at West Melton before moving to Darfield a year or so ago. He started his teaching career in the mid 1960s, retiring a decade ago after 22 years as principal at the Tai Tapu school near Christchurch.
While he's unsure how many horses he's bred in total it's likely to be at least three figures. He has bred at least one a year since the 1970s, either on his own or in partnership with others.
It all started with his foundation mare Bachelor's Choice, who Trist and trainer Bill Farrell purchased from the Ashburton sales.
He had 11 progeny, with Trist having an involvement with eight of them. Of them, four were winners in this country - Winning Choice (3 wins from 41 starts), Winning Glimpse (2/22), Meesha (3/40) and Haughty Choice (2/64). Winning Choice, Winning Glimpse and Haughty Choice were all by Out To Win.
Winning Glimpse raced in the USA for a time, with four wins and five second placings. He was one of eight horses that Trist has sold to either North America or Australia.
Another Out To Win progeny was Silver Win. She was unraced but produced one of Trist's all-time favourites, Colour Magic (Nero's BB - Silver Win).
"I bred him myself and he was born in the front paddock and a whole lot of kids and family were there and got up in the morning and saw a foal."
"He was called Flip by the kids but he was Colour Magic - and he raced in Western Australia."
Known as It's Colour Magic he won six from 26, after heading across the Tasman in 1989.
"He had amazing speed," says Trist.
But it's Kym's Girl that is synonymous with Trist and his co-owners.
And how he got her came down to luck and circumstance. He was approached by then Motukarara-based trainer David Miller, who Trist had had a long and successful association with. He wanted to sell shares in her to defray expenses.
"I said I'd get involved but only if I could go quarters."
Partners Trist (far right) , Bill Marra, Chris Thornley and Miller didn't know it at the time but Kym's Girl would go to win 18 races from 74 starts and over $600,000.
"After six wins Chris Thornley was paid out and that left Bill Marra, David Miller and me to persevere."
Miller trained the mare from 1998 to 2000, before stepping away from the game. Colin DeFilippi then took over and was in the sulky when he won his first and only New Zealand Cup on Tuesday November 12, 21 years ago. Miller trained 19 winners for Trist, while DeFilippi drove the most winners (24).
Trist recalls the build-up and the race with absolute clarity.
"She'd won the Hannon Memorial, had a fabulous race in the Flying Stakes at Ashburton when she flew home for third, and then went to Kaikoura (11th).
"She didn't have even the slightest gap, and then for the New Zealand Cup we knew she'd be among the more favoured runners, she was third the year before so we knew she'd go the distance.
"With a lap to go she was last, but Colin had got her in the three wide line and then the four wide line when Makati Galahad broke, and on the point of the bend, 400 metres from the finish, she was ninth
"As they straightened up around the 250 mark she was threatening the lead."
Kym's Girl got home by a neck in 4:05.4
"It was very exciting."
"I was carrying the blasted big Cup and people were stopping for photos ... so you always hope but you never think it would happen."
The win carried on a family tradition in the great race. His great uncle Jim McCutcheon was the breeder/owner of 1913 New Zealand Cup winner Ravenschild.
Racing had been a constant in the Trist family growing up, his dad George loved racing and had a "long history" at working at Addington and the wider family mixed with the likes of Wes Butt, Cecil Devine "and the Templeton crowd."
After her racing career finished in 2003, Kym's Girl went to the broodmare paddock.
She had seven foals, all co-bred by Trist, Marra and Miller. The first of them La Moocha (In The Pocket) won one from five. Her best progeny so far is four race winner Manjimup (La Moocha - Big Jim).
Here We Go Again (Kym's Girl - Mach Three) was a standout, with 11 wins and lifetime earnings of just $200,000. She won two Group 2s, including the 2011 Ladyship Stakes at Alexandra Park, and was fourth in the 2012 New Zealand Oaks won by Cheer The lady.
Now 13, Here We Go Again has had six progeny including one-race winners Emma's Girl (Sportswriter) and Warrior Chief (Sweet Lou).
"They were very different mums," says Trist, "Kym's Girl would always take her foal to the furthest point in the paddock so we never got to see the foal properly while Here We Go Again would bring the foal over and let you pat them - they were absolute opposites."
While his days as a breeder are at a close, he's got some interesting observations - and he knows they might not be popular with everyone.
"I never bred a trotter - too unreliable."
"I never bred any more than six to a particular stallion or mare unless they've produced an outstanding horse."
"They say breed the best to the best - but it doesn't guarantee anything - I had one expensive flop"
"And you need a bit of luck."
As Trist winds down the breeding part of his interest in the sport he's excelling as an owner/part owner.
"I've had seven wins this year, from five different horses - it's the most I've ever had."
The latest was the well-performed Grinning Again, who won his fourth race at Manawatu last week for the all-conquering trainer-driver combo of Michael House and Blair Orange.
"I love watching my horses and that will keep me involved."