Today we start out series on horse ownership – how did it all start? And what are your favourite memories?
Today it is prolific and successful owner and businessman Trevor Casey
Trevor Casey can only wonder how many horses he’s owned or part-owned. He knows it in the “many hundreds” and there have been some of the country’s best performers – think Lazarus, Stent, Waikiki Beach, Sky Major, Winterfell, One Change.
Lazarus was the best pacer he’s been associated with.
“Laz knew it was raceday”, and while his two New Zealand Cup successes were massive highlights, so too the Interdominion win at Perth in 2017.
“It was the win but also the manner of the win, to beat the best in Australasia and he sat outside them”.
Like his career in business, Casey’s interest in horse racing started modestly and just kept growing.
In the 1970s he first became involved in the racing game despite no family history in the industry. His first experience was helping out around the stables of northern trainers Tommy Knowles and Fred Wigg.
After leaving school and a stint with the Air Force he bought a foodbar business in Kumeu.
“We had it for 10-11 years, it started at $800 a week but at the end it was turning over $10,000 a week.”
He then took over the family business, a Toyota dealership in Kumeu, and in the mid-1980s moved his life to Christchurch. He went into partnership with Neil Pilcher at Inter-Island Horse Transport, and was involved there for over a decade before getting into the hospitality trade.
He now has a shareholding in three Lone Star restaurants and owns one outright. His latest one at Alexandra Park was due to open just days before the country went into lockdown.
It’s been a trying time for Casey, but like the ups and downs of racing he is trying to be philosophical.
“We have bought a couple of $100,000 horses at the sales and they were no good, it’s disappointing but you just turn the page.”
“We have to appreciate the highs and get over the lows”.
The highs have been numerous, and actually it started with the first horse he part-owned.
“It was a Soky’s Atom filly that we brought for $500 at a National Bloodstock sale”.
Trained by Jim Cole, Michelle Soky won a two-year-old sales race on debut in 1991, with a winning stake of over $100,000.
“I’d always loved Standardbreds and it just built from there.”
In 2015 he had a season he’ll never forget or probably emulate.
“I had nearly 100 in a season.” That’s winners he either owned or had a share-holding in.
He has a long and successful partnership with Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen barn – “the best I’ve ever seen” – though he does use many other trainers as well.
He’s always taken special pride in the horses he’d bred himself.
Stent - “my best trotter” – won 30 from 70 races and over a million dollars in stakes. He was given his name after Casey had just had a medical procedure of the same name and while he was in Christchurch hospital he used to go to the “Great Escape Café”. That led to Escapee getting her name. And now one of her progeny has been called Alcatraz.
Of some of the other trotters he’s bred, Missandei (2015) was the first Jewels winner to be out of a Jewels winner (Pocaro - 2009). Another horse he had a share in, Sky Major also was the first to win the Harness Jewels as a 2,3 and 4-year-old.
Not a breeding expert “but I like to follow families” Casey and his partner Kate Marriott currently have 20 weanlings out of Sky Major as well as other yearlings and a number of promising young trotters they hope will perform at the highest level.
Which brings us to : what’s left in the industry for Trevor Casey?
“I’d love to win a Dominion handicap with one of my trotters”