A true gentleman with a leadership style that was hard to beat, best describes NZTBA Life Member and former President Arthur Ormond who passed away this week.
He was a foundation member of the NZTBA Wellington branch and then of the Hawke's Bay branch. He was elected to the NZTBA Council in 1991 and was its President from 1996 until 2001. Arthur was the NZTBA's nominee to the Board of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing from 1999 until 2001 and chaired the New Zealand Equine Industry Training Organisation for more than ten years. He was also instrumental in establishing New Zealand Thoroughbred Marketing (NZTM) with a vision to market the New Zealand thoroughbred and related products both domestically and internationally.
Former CEO of the NZTBA and good friend to Ormond Michael Martin describes him as an outstanding man and leader.
“Arthur was the rarest and very best kind of leader, who always acted in the best interests of the entire industry and did so with complete integrity,” recalled Martin.
“He thoroughly understood the problems facing New Zealand thoroughbred racing and breeding and worked constantly and constructively to find solutions.
“As NZTBA President, Arthur, supported by his wife Nic (Monica), showed unflinching courage during a period in the Association’s history when our desire for progress and reform in New Zealand racing put us at odds with other organisations and codes. His vision of a prosperous and vibrant New Zealand thoroughbred industry remains to inspire our next generation of leaders.”
Arthur was born in 1947 into one of Hawkes Bay’s oldest families. His great grandfather the Honourable John D Ormond came to New Zealand from Wallingford in 1847 aged 15 as he knew there were no prospects for him in England. He went on to become one of the largest landowners in the Hawkes Bay, a successful politician and established the historic Karamu Stud. He and his wife Hannah had six children with John Davies (Jack) the youngest being grandfather to Arthur.
According to his cousin Mick Ormond whom Arthur ventured into horse ownership with, it was from their great grandfather that their love of horses came.
“We were cousins, we were much closer than brothers as brothers argue all the time,” mused Mick.
“We had great fun breeding and buying horses together, for years we would head off to the sales together. He wanted to buy Tristarc who went on to win a Caulfield Cup when she was a yearling, in fact we were the underbidders, he really loved her but didn’t have the buying power of Nic Columb.
“However, he did buy Gussy Godiva as a yearling and we raced her in Australia, she won a race at Caulfield with Michelle Payne on board, when she was a 19-year-old apprentice who didn’t get that many rides in town. Gussy won four races in all including the VRC Sanderae Handicap – named after her third dam who won the Group One VRC Oaks and VRC Wakeful Stakes and AV Kewney Stakes.
“We bred Rios and Roman Emperor together and then he sold the mare to me.”
Roman Emperor won the Australian Derby but died early in his stud career, while Rios won the Wellington Guineas and went on to leave the group one winner Gaultier.
“Arthur was very much in his father Wal’s image,” he added, “Wal was an outstanding president with the same disposition as Arthur, firm inside but very gentle men. Even tempered and eternally optimistic."
“Arthur had so many close friends he didn’t have an enemy in the world, his leadership style was hard to beat, everybody got their say. He encouraged me to join the Breeders’ council after he left and the same with Hawkes Bay racing, but he remained a great sounding board for me.”
Wal Ormond served as the NZTBA President from 1969 until 1978 and he was also President of the Hawkes Bay Racing Club.
After leaving Christs College at 17 Arthur worked briefly for a stock and station company before the pull of the horses saw him head to Te Parae Stud in Masterton, to work for the Williams family. It was from here that he made the trek over the Remutuka Hill to court Nic, and they eventually headed to Claiborne Farm in Kentucky to work for a further two years. They married in Kentucky and their daughter Georgie was born there and not long after the family returned to New Zealand via Europe where Chris was conceived.
Arthur’s first role back in New Zealand was with legendary horseman Eric Ropiha who incidentally had started his working life as a junior shepherd for Sir John Ormond brother to Wal and father of Mick. Later he took up a position at Ted Howarth’s Woodleigh Stud in Otaki and it was while there that he became a foundation member of the Wellington Branch.
But his roots were in Hawkes Bay and he and Nic eventually returned to establish Byerley Thoroughbreds where he stood Fiesta Star. It was here that he began an association with Murray Anderson which led to the breeding of the Champion filly and dual group one winner Staring who went on to be the grandam of Dundeel.
The Ormond’s four children; Georgie, Chris, Marcus and Tom all grew up at Byerley Thoroughbreds and according to Mick they all have horses in their DNA and enjoy racing horses in the syndicates he puts together.
“Some of my greatest memories of Arthur are of recent trips to the Hunter Valley with my son Ru along with his son Marcus. We would visit the studs and look at the horses, discuss the industry with the likes of John Messara and generally just have a great time.”
Arthur is survived by his wife Nic, daughter Georgie and husband Matt, along with Chris and Siobhain, Marcus and Chrissy and Tom and Benita and nine grandchildren. His funeral will be held on Saturday at 321 Middle Road, Havelock North at 2p.m.