Terry Chmiel - "it's time for a fresh start"

by Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk

Canterbury-based trainer-driver Terry Chmiel has made a life-changing decision.

From living and working at his own 16 hectare property in rural Leeston he's about to become a suit-wearing stipendary steward living in an apartment in Brisbane.

"It's a biggie alright," he says of his decision, "but you know I'm 46 and it's time for a fresh start."

"I've been involved with horses since I was 15 or 16, it's all I've known."

He's had 725 driving wins since the mid-1990s, including nine this year and also trained 258 winners either on his own account or in partnership since 2004.

In 2000 he drove Sunny Action to victory in the NZ Trotting Free For All. The upset result denied the great Lyell Creek a 21st successive victory.

Other horses he's been associated with have been Group 2 winners Memphis Tennessee, Dibaba and Nek Time.

Chmiel will take up his new role across the Tasman in early January.

He's had the idea of getting involved in racing administration for a while now, but it hadn't panned out.

"I applied here and got turned down so what can you do?"

One of the lures is to have a better work-life balance.

"Here it's been seven days a week and the driving opportunities have become more limited ...  my owners are getting a bit older and there have been a couple of cold nights at Addington and I've thought is this what I want to do for the rest of my working life."

The answer to that has clearly been no.

"This new job is done on a roster - you know when you are and aren't working."

"Initially I'll be doing gallops and trots - with most races at Eagle Farm and Albion Park."

Chmiel plans to live nearby and will head to Queensland soon to organise an apartment and other details.

To prepare for the move he's sold his Leeston property and invested in a bare block of land that he's leased to a dairy farmer.

He's also sold his own horses, and moved others on.

"I'm just taking two to Mark Jones' place right now," he says.

The only downside to his impending move is the impact on his two children, 15-year-old Toby and 16-year-old Hope.

"It's a tough one for the kids but I had to make a call and to try something new. It might be great or it might not work out and I could be back here in no time!"


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