Prominent horse trainer Tony Kaye farewelled in Palmerston North
Tony Kaye was much more than a horse trainer.
The father, husband, friend, lover of animals, keen gardener and thrower of infamous parties was farewelled in Palmerston North on Wednesday at a packed Terracehaven Chapel.
Friends travelled from as far as London to pay their respects to Kaye, who died on Good Friday after a battle with cancer.
Kaye was well known in New Zealand racing circles, firstly for his work as a jockey, before he turned to training.
He was especially famed for working with very few horses, but always doing a brilliant job.
One of his best horses was Iamishwara, who has netted more than $400,000 in winnings after Kaye and his wife Nikky bought it at the Karaka sales in 2011 for $8000.
Jean Thompson-Church, who led the service, said Kaye, the youngest of five children, went to Riverdale School and Awatapu College.
"School was not his thing, but he did go – sometimes to have a sleep, other times only to eat his lunch."
He was much more at home on his family's farm, especially around the horses, so it was no shock he went on to become an apprentice jockey.
He rode 30 winners before moving into training.
His love for horses was summed up well by him asking after his favourite horse, and not his wife, when he woke after a major surgery, Thompson-Church said.
But there was much more to him than horses. His birthday parties were the stuff of legend, even from a young age.
Childhood friend Stu Smith, in a letter read for him because he had lost his voice, said Kaye's mum would "play the best movies" and give everyone who went to the parties presents as they left.
Kaye had a deep love of animals and was known to have "a kitten following him one day and a possum sitting on his shoulder the next", Smith said.
Dave Gibbs said Kaye was a big fan of saving animals from the pound, going as far as blowing out glass windows in an effort to release dogs.
"I won't say how we made those bombs, as the kids might start making them."
Scott Bishop said he was always amazed at Kaye's ability to work with animals.
"I can still see him talking some horsey language and the horses talking back.
"I would ask him what it was saying and he would reply: 'It's saying to put the jug on'."
Mention was also made of Kaye's spirituality, especially Buddhism and Hinduism, which saw him take trips to India in search of spiritual enlightenment and get up at 3am to work on his meditation, yoga and breathing.
Bishop had a parting message for his friend.
"Mount your steed and ride him good."