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Interview with Golden Flare's breeder

Golden Flare as a foal in 1991
Golden Flare as a foal in 1991

The NZTBA interviewed Golden Flare's breeder Tom Harvey last year after the horse had completed the ARC Great Northern-McGregor Grant Steeplechase double for the first time. We're reprinting the interview now after the eleven-year-old son of Touching Wood and Golden Glow has become the first horse ever to win both racs in consecutive years.
Tom spoke with us from his ten-acre property near Hamilton where he lives with his wife Moira:


How did you acquire Golden Glow?
We had been farming and then I worked for Griffin's Biscuits for ten years. Our boys had been in pony club but got to the age where they had other interests. It was just co-incidence that I was grazing a filly for a friend at work. I really liked her and when he said he was going to sell her I went home, talked it over with my wife and wrote out a cheque for $750.

Why did you send her to Sir Tristram in 1977?
Golden Glow split a pastern before she got to the races. I knew the Hogans and sent her to Heir Presumptive first, but when I saw Sir Tristram there was no other horse I wanted to go to. I said 'Book me into him next year.' There was just something about him, he was a super horse. Zabeel has the same look about him. [The result was Trissaro who won six races for the Harveys before he was sold to Australia, where he became an outstanding performer, winning the Sydney Cup, Tancred and Underwood Stakes, all Group One races, and almost $A500,000.]

What was Golden Flare like as a young horse?
He's much like the rest of the family: very slow to mature and he likes wet tracks. Trissaro loved it loose, and another half-brother Upali was just about unbeatable on wet ground. And I'm afraid all of Golden Glow's progeny have a bit of dirt in them. Yet she was the loveliest mare you could wish to handle - I've been told the bad temperament comes from Lucifer II. Upali was one of the toughest horses I've run into. Golden Flare wasn't nasty, but he wasn't just anybody's horse. That's why I admire Raylene [Whiteside] for the job she's done with him. I'm sure he's a one-on-one horse and does better in a small stable.

How did Golden Flare's current owners end up with him?
We raced Golden Flare with a syndicate for three years, but when you've raced them on your own it's not the same. He was a pretty handy horse on the flat and won a race by ten lengths at Foxton as a five-year-old. When I pulled out my son Stephen took over the syndicate and Cedric [Foote] took my place. I'm philosophical about how it's turned out. It was terrific watching him win the Great Northern, though I got more out of the McGregor Grant, seeing him win from so far back.

Are you breeding or racing horses now?
No, age has got the better of me! We had a lot of fun and we are quite proud of the horses we bred.
I've always loved horses and still do. I don't think there's anything to compare with racing and breeding when it's going really well, but you have to take the bad with the good.


- Susan Archer