Last month Owen Larson contacted the NZTBA, wanting to share his story of his role in the breeding of the legendary Bonecrusher.
This is the story of how the great horse Bonecrusher came to be on this planet, as told by Owen Larsen, who for many years during the 1960s and 1970s was a small-time breeder on a property at Newstead, Hamilton and was on the Committee of the Waikato Branch of the NZTBA almost until he moved to live in NSW, Australia, in 1979.
In the mid Seventies I decided that the NZ Broodmares needed to produce some faster horses, that we were putting too much staying blood into our racehorses, so I decided to try to find a stallion bred for speed, like a Star Kingdom line horse, so I got an agent in Sydney to find one. As luck happens, the agent had one just listed.
As I was joining a stud tour a couple of days later, I arranged to have an inspection as we were stopping over in Sydney for two nights and then going on to South Australia to Lindsay Park and a vineyard tour.
When we were shown our rooms at the Hotel in Sydney, I was sharing my room with Bill Punch, a breeder from Te Kuiti, and on telling him that I was inspecting a horse the next morning and would he like to come with me, he said yes he would.
When I first saw Pag-Asa, I was impressed, and after the agent gave us a pedigree and race performance sheet I was very satisfied with what I saw, and I asked Bill “if I buy this horse, would he buy a share in him and his answer was, that would depend on price”, and after studying his pedigree he told me he had just the right mare to put to him and her name was Imitation (dam of Bonecrusher). I asked the agent if I could get an option on him until I got home at the end of the week, and I did get that option.
On the Sunday when home again, the agent phoned me for a definite decision, so I committed myself to buy the horse, then about an hour later there was a National TV announcement - New Zealand had just devalued the dollar by 10 per cent, so I had to take a trip to see my Bank Manager. It all ended up OK , so I paid for Pag-Asa and arranged his transport to Dave O’Sullivan’s stable.
I had already asked Dave if he would train a horse if I should buy one, so that was all done, so the horse went straight into full work as he had just come out of work in Australia.
I had managed to sell about five shares, so it was going OK.
Dave took him to Paeroa for a 1200m race but that was abandoned due to heavy rain, so a week later he started at Avondale, showed speed, then weakened out then a fortnight later to Ellerslie, same result.
Dave had him cardiographed and the report was awful, tee wave changes on 6 of 10 leads, so that was it as a racehorse.
I arranged to send him to the spelling farm of Ken Reggett, and while there after a few days, Ron Taylor phoned me and put forward an offer which I couldn’t refuse, so our no good racehorse, began a stud career like no other stallion has done, to sire a horse that as racecaller Bill Collins claimed, raced into equine immortality.
Ask me the question, do I feel proud of what I achieved, yes I do, for as far as I know, no single person has done what I set out to do, to inject some speed into our New Zealand racing stock.
I have a copy of the Bonecrusher Scrapbook done by Dexter and I see a mistake in there that said that Counterfeit was a full brother to Bonecrusher, that is incorrect, he was bred and raced by another shareholder.
You have now read the true story on the making of a champ.
I could not have done this without the understanding and patience of my lovely wife, Julie, and my five great (were) kids, I still get goose bumps when I watch videos of Big Red,
Thanks for reading, from Owen, a 92yo Kiwi.