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Paulie Hunter back in his wife's goodbooks!

It took well over 18 months but Paulie Hunter is finally back in the good books with his wife Petrina, after a spur of the moment $200 purchase at the broodmare sale turned into a $47,500 yearling at the recent Festival sale.

Through the Seaton Park draft where Hunter is the manager of Seaton Park's "Heights" property in Matamata, he sold a Tavistock colt, the first foal of the Lucky Unicorn(AUS) mare Silver Bracelet, to Englishman Jim McGrath for $47,500.

"It was a fluke," quipped Hunter, "Tavistock is the sire of the moment."

"It was a team effort, it always is at Seaton Park, it wasn't just me selling a nice colt, he represented Seaton Park. Scotty said to me that he has never sold well at the Festival sale, but Gavin Opie who was doing the yearlings on the main farm said all the way through he was a nice horse, and that he would sell well."

Scotty is Scott Eagleton who owns Seaton Park with his wife Katie, and he has been a mentor and advisor to Hunter for many years.

Recently Hunter recalled how he had acquired Silver Bracelet at the National Broodmare sale in May 2013.

"I had a weanling in partnership with Mandy Currie (another Seaton Park employee) to sell by Shocking and I didn't want to buy another horse, my wife Petrina had said she didn't want another horse. It was one of those very rare occasions when I didn't take Scott's advice. In all my other horse ventures I had sought his advice.

"We sold the weanling for $6,000 and I was having a pie and a coke in the cafeteria, and I saw her come through. I saw Tycoon Lil on the page, I should have looked at the mare not the book – and that caught my attention. They were struggling for a bid and I heard the bidding get to $100, I saw the green sticker on her bum so I knew she was in foal so I bid $200.

"I thought holy shit I can pay for this by eftpos. Next thing Scott appeared and said what have you done and how are you going to tell Petrina? I thought it's only lunch time I can sweat it out for a few hours, but before I had even been to see the horse, or think of an excuse, she spotted the pink slip.

"Boy did she give it to me, you couldn't print what she said, I thought I was divorced for sure. She went and looked at the mare and when she came back I thought she was going to upper cut me.

"The sale was on the Friday and on Sunday at the rugby club, the boys were still giving me grief telling me that it wasn't really the Mother's Day present that Petrina wanted. I don't think she spoke to me for about 18 days.

"Scott wasn't that impressed either, he said you had better hope the sire comes up and it's a nice individual because it's pretty light on pedigree. Despite the fact Tycoon Lil was in there she only appeared in the third dam. The first dam was unraced and the second dam unplaced."

It didn't help when Hunter took the resultant colt foal to the weanling sale last May and it failed to meet the $4,000 reserve. However on Sunday Petrina was very quick to remind her husband that that was her Mother's Day present!

"She hadn't even seen him until just before Christmas, and when she saw what a bloody nice horse he was all of a sudden he was 'ours'. To be fair it was a real team effort there was a lot of hard work by all the staff to get him to the sales and get that price," added Hunter.

Hunter grew up in Gisborne, where his Dad worked on sheep and beef farms.

"Dad and my uncles all played polocrosse and I learnt to ride there. I was rugby mad though that was my passion and I still play golden oldies and coach at the Hinuera Rugby Club.

"I moved up to Matamata when I was about 16 and went to work for Scott and he has taught me everything I know. From horsemanship to good people skills, being 16 and coming from Gisborne I didn't have many people skills, and at 34 I know a lot more now than I did then. He has looked after me the whole way through and I wouldn't have got where I am now without his support," he said with humility.

On the advice of Eagleton, Hunter ventured into his first horse in 2004 and in 2005 sold a Thorn Park(AUS) weanling, he part owned for $41,000. But there wasn't always a fairy tale result like that one and the next venture wasn't quite so good.

"I bought a mare called Light A Candle the first colt died, then I sent her to Bachelor Duke (USA) and sold that for $3000. I walked a mare into Duelled for Scotty and said I really liked that horse, and so Scotty set up a deal with Rogie and I sent her there and she produced a colt that sold for $11,000 to Anne Herbert called Barney.

"They were costing me money so I got rid of her when he was weaned - against Petrina's advice - and when Barney was stakes placed his owners came to me and wanted to buy his mother, I was in trouble with the wife then. So I got another mare and that was the start of the wife not talking to me, I think she was going to hang me – that one cost me a fortune for no result.

"But still I got into another mare with Mandy and we bred to Shocking(AUS), and we sold that weanling at the exact same sale I bought Silver Bracelet.

"I haven't actually bred Silver Bracelet since, if this yearling does any good I will go and get her and put her in foal. At least this time I didn't get rid of her completely I sent her to Dad and Mum. They spoil her, they have 60 acres in Tiki Tiki on the East Coast where they run some stock and a couple of hacks. She's in good hands and she's there if I dare get back into the breeding business."

In the meantime Hunter is going to make the most of being in Petrina's good books.

- Michelle Saba


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