Graeme Hunt has been one of racing's quiet achievers.
The Wellington owner-breeder has built up some impressive results, without attracting a high profile.
Hunt has had three individual black type winners this term, including Shi Kin Fly, who is expected to start favourite in the Group III Hawke's Bay Cup (2200m) at Hastings tomorrow.
Hunt also bred and part-owns the 2007 Melbourne Cup winner Efficient, who won the Group I Turnbull Stakes last spring, and races the Anniversary Handicap winner Barinka.
Hunt owns and bred both Shi Kin Fly and Barinka but has leased the pair out for their racing careers, though he has kept significant holdings in the racing partnerships.
He has a 50 per cent share in the partnership that races Shi Kin Fly and a quarter share in the Barinka syndicate.
His other breeding credits include Efficient's half-brother Guillotine, who stands at Windsor Park Stud, and the Avondale Cup winner Creil.
Creil was sold to Jack Georgetti for $500 as a weanling but Hunt has had some good results in the sales ring.
His Zabeel-Cold Shoulder colt, offered in partnership with Bill Gleeson, made $420,000 at Karaka in January and the Zabeel-Primera Dama filly made $210,000.
Guillotine was a $300,000 yearling in 2006, and Efficient had made $220,000 the previous year.
Hunt, who has owned and developed a number of hotels, including the Cambridge Hotel in Wellington, has been a thoroughbred enthusiast since his school days.
His first racehorse was Globetrotter, a quality three-year-old in New Zealand who then raced with distinction from the Hayes stable in Australia. Globetrotter was Group I-placed in the Toorak Handicap and won the Group II Queen Elizabeth Stakes at the 1987 Melbourne spring carnival.
Globetrotter had a brief career at stud and Hunt, who now owns about a dozen mares, began to build up a broodmare band.
"I would go to the sales and try to find a nice filly for the money I could afford, which was usually around $50,000 to $100,000."
Refused The Dance, the dam of Efficient and Guillotine, fell into that category, costing $82,500 as a yearling.
The Defensive Play mare had only six start, due to injury, but won twice and showed enough ability for trainer Roger James to try her in Australia as a two and three-year-old.
Her foals would now have rare value but Hunt has been unable to capitalise on her success, as the mare, now a 13-year-old, has not had a foal since Guillotine.
Refused The Dance missed or slipped three times to Zabeel, the sire of Efficient, and in the last three years has got in foal to Encosta De Lago, Duke Of Marmalade and Fastnet Rock but lost the foal early in the pregnancy each time.
"We are trying another treatment method with her and she is going to High Chaparral this year, but I'm not getting too excited," Hunt said.
Refused The Dance left two fillies before Efficient and Hunt is still a part-owner of both mares, though not without difficulty in the case of Stravinsky mare Ballet Danseuse.
Hunt originally sold Ballet Danseuse as a weanling and she was resold as a yearling and sent to the Philippines.
Hunt and work colleague Simon Niblett were able to track her down in the Philippines and bring her back to New Zealand.
Thoroughbreds are rarely exported from the Philippines, because of the presence of a variety of equine diseases, and it was a complex and expensive exercise.
Hunt and Niblett are now breeding from Ballet Danseuse who has repaid their faith by leaving a Zabeel filly and is now in foal to High Chaparral.
Cold Shoulder, a Volksraad mare, is the other half-sister to Efficient and also has a weanling filly by Zabeel.
Hunt and Bill Gleeson have also retained Power, an Electronic Zone-Cold Shoulder mare, who is back in work with John Sargent after showing high promise in two starts as a three-year-old.
Another member of the Hunt racing team is Kabuki, a two-year-old half-sister by Shinko King to Tavistock, who was bought out of a paddock before Tavistock had risen to prominence.
Hunt is a shareholder in Shinko King, who is also the sire of Shi Kin Fly and Barinka. "I love Shinko King," Hunt said. "He must be the most underrated stallion in New Zealand."
Hunt has a significant shareholding in Handsome Ransom and Patapan and his other stallion shares include Zabeel, Savabeel and Alamosa.
"I have done well from stallion shares and they have underpinned my other breeding costs. It's hard to make horses work [financially]."
- © Fairfax NZ News