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Shock passing of Group One breeder and owner

The New Zealand thoroughbred industry is mourning the recent sudden death of the popular Waikato identity Paul Smithies.

"It's been a big shock to everyone," family friend and fellow breeder-owner Andrew Bryant said. "He had so much going for him."

With his wife Cushla, they bred a number of Group One performers at Monovale Farm and also raced their top flight home-bred Puccini.

The son of Encosta de Lago was prepared by Peter and Jacob McKay to win the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby and the Gr.1 Thorndon Mile before he posted multiple Group placings from Darren Weir's Victorian stable.

Smithies also bred and sold Puccini's outstanding half-brother Sir Slick, who won two editions of the Thorndon Mile as well as Group One successes in the Zabeel Classic, New Zealand Stakes, Waikato International Stakes and the Otaki-Maori WFA.

Another Monovale graduate was the Gr.1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas winner Platinum Witness, who also triumphed in the Gr.3 Desert Gold Stakes and Gr.3 Lowland Stakes to claim the NZB Filly of the Year title.

"Horses were his great passion, but he was also very gracious in defeat," Bryant said. "He was a quiet achiever and saw no need to make a fuss about anything."

The Smithies' honours board further includes Gr.2 Light Fingers Stakes winner Adrift, Gr.2 A. D. Hollindale Stakes winner Fulmonti, Gr.3 Taranaki Classic winner Magic Dancer, Gr.3 Desert Gold Stakes winner Pride Of The Class, Listed winners Majestical and No Tricks and the black type performers Pipi Beel, Ezra and Flying Orca.

"They were neighbours of ours and we foaled a number of their mares," said Des Hawkins, of Wentwood Grange. "Paul was a lovely fellow and we always had a lot of fun together."

Smithies was also active in administration and served as a New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders' Association councillor and as a board member of New Zealand Thoroughbred Marketing.

Smithies is survived by his wife Cushla and their children Claire, Katherine, Max and Joe. – NZ Racing Desk.