Quiet environment perfect for trainer
Racing fans might be unaware that Riverton trainer Kelvin Tyler was positioned a creditable national premiership 19th with 16 flat successes as a fully fledged professional trainer as at 31 March this season.
The former Matamata dairy farmer, who followed that career path to Otautau 21 years ago, officially has 38 horses in work, according to Thoroughbred Racing New Zealand records.
His career took off when he assumed professional ranks three years ago in 2012-13.
Tyler seems certain to add appreciably to his score with four Riverton meetings alone at his back door over the autumn.
He modestly attributed his success to the key role of his wife Rebecca who broke in most of their horses.
"Another significant reason is the co-operation and encouragement from the committee of the Riverton Racing Club and the outstanding facilities here and quiet low key environment that I enjoy as much as the horses," he enthused.
"Riccarton trainer Michael Pitman told me the Riverton course would be the best centre in the South Island to train horses. I reckon he's right."
The closeby North Riverton beach was a "big bonus", providing wonderful mental and physical therapy for horses.
Tyler has genuinely enjoyed the switch to concentrated horse training since taking on his wife as an apprentice jockey. They now engage six of a staff, including Kelvin's 20-year-old daughter Amy from a previous marriage, and Amanda Schwarz.
"I am now closely considering taking on a second apprentice."
He shifted to Southland from Matamata 21 years ago with his family and three children, including sons Michael and Jason who have assumed the family's dairying involvement at Otautau.
Jason is also employed in mineral mining near Alice Springs in Australia. Michael enjoys helping his father on racedays.
Kelvin inherited his love of horses from his Matamata parents. His father Ken owned the six times successful Tylmann, who was trained by Ray Johnson.
Kelvin gained his initial Southland success with Tommy Rulz, a winner at Gore and Wyndham.
He pulled no punches when highlighting the personal benefits he had appreciated since moving south.
"I have loved it all down south. It's something I should have done earlier."
He enjoyed the quiet, low key and peaceful scene as much as his horses. It was all a numbers game in big stables in the Waikato. Horses had to be treated as individuals if a man exercised sound stock sense.
Not for him the intensity and congestion of northern centres and bigger numbers.
"If I had to queue up at a coffee bar, I would simply move on and find a quieter one," he quipped.
The "conversion" from dairying to racing had extended his enjoyment of western Southland.
Horses with North Island backgrounds, some of whom he shared interests in, also seemed to adapt favourably to the quieter and less intense deep south.
Tyler, Bruce Tapper and Ian Taplin, all former northerners involved in dairying, have contributed markedly to the fragile southern racing industry. Their participation had bolstered horse numbers in every practical sense.
The prolific green grass of Southland with its lengthy growing season was generally kind to dairying and also suited the equine species, especially following cows on pasture and the abundance of iron content in the soil.
Tyler said his racing operation had "probably got big enough now and it may be time to focus on quality rather than quantity."
He has at least 10 outside clients to complement his family operation. He said a horseman "only treads water" when training exclusively for others. A man had to derive more money from a win by sharing more in the ownership which generated a bigger cash return than relying on a trainer's winning 10 percent.
Hayley Maree, with four wins and a second from only seven starts, was rated the best he had trained before she fractured a cannon bone. She pulled up lame after winning the Miss Scenicland Stakes at Hokitika in January and was not operated on as the problem was healing naturally, hopefully in time for resuming in the spring.
"All young horses we have are bought or leased, including North Island stock," he observed.
"They have also responded well to the change to a low-key scene here where I believe they get more individual treatment."
A Beautiful Knight, Timy Tyler and Peter Parrot should be worth following on the autumn circuit, he predicted.
Without good staff, he said a trainer was "nothing."
"With my staff and wife Rebecca a tower of strength, also a good farrier in Phil Devery, I have plenty going for me."
- The Southland Times