Paul Hogan

Hogan’s Heroes

Former Southlander Paul Hogan has been breeding horses for a good number of years but it’s only just recently that he’s starting to see some quality stock coming through.

“Its 40 years later, but patience is a great thing. We may not be going if it wasn’t for a promise I made to PJ (Paddy) Dunne. It’s a hobby we enjoy (as a family). We don’t have boats or anything like that and we tend to spend our money on something we can see,” he said.

Hogan’s first venture into the industry was in the late 1970s when he bought a Nordell Skipper filly from Invercargill Vet Paddy Dunne.

Donore was bred by Dunne’s wife Grace and was out the Dick Adios mare Adiola.

“Paddy and I worked together for 16 odd years (for MAF in the freezing industry). We spent a lot of quality time together. In a lot of ways he was like a second father. He was a true blue Irish Kiwi. He did a lot for Southland Harness Racing over the years.”

Donore won two races for Drummond trainer Graham Bond. Her first win at Ascot Park in Invercargill was by ten lengths, and driven by Henderson Hunter.

As a broodmare her five live foals all qualified. Not bad for a mare that was served early on by stallions like Trusty Scot, Del Cavalla and Adios Vic.

Donore herself had a really sound pedigree that goes back to the Sungod mare Auburn Sun – an outstanding broodmare leaving Kiwi Grattan, the winner of nine races, Kiwi Air the dam of Tempest Air which left Kiwi Dillion (21 wins in America and 1-54.2) and Henry Hoover (8 wins). Auburn Sun also left Air Mail (Dillion Hall) who was the source of many good horses including Cirrus for Noel Drake. Cirrus left Motu Prince, Motu Princess and Hurricane Kiwi all of which won seven races.

Another product of Airmail was Kiwi Direct whose family has left a string of winners over the years and continues to provide good racehorses for Hamish Scott and Kim Lawson.

In amongst breeding and racing horses Paul showed an interest in learning the skills of being a blacksmith.

“It was because I wanted to do a bit myself. I did a year and a half with Charlie McDonald. I then went to the states for a year having taken a break from MAF. I didn’t just want to go on an OE. I wanted to do something with purpose. Bill Miller who was our tutor was a well – respected farrier. He was at Sportsman Park in Chicago for about twenty odd years. Harness horses were his thing so it was a real blessing to get beside him. I shod Amish mules, working horses, thoroughbreds – all sorts. It was a great experience.”

After the farriers course had finished Hogan stayed on in America for an extra two months and learned to treat quarter cracks and general foot trauma. It was a skill he put to good use when he returned home to New Zealand.

“Spirit of Zeus was probably one of the best horses I fixed. Brian (O’Meara) used to fly me up. I was also shoeing Christian Cullen (then two) at the time as well. Another horse I worked on was Natal Franco.”

While he was in the States he also got more insight into breeding and realised that he couldn’t approach it without a plan.

“We bred, as loyal Southlanders, to the local studs with limited success and no real plan. The foals were average in conformation and performance and it wasn’t until I went to America in 1986 for Farrier School that I met some old retired trainers from California.”

They helped Hogan develop a plan for the future.

“They were adamant that we were losing Adios blood from the dam side and that that needed to be present, plus Albatross blood for improved confirmation. They also suggested that we needed to bring in Big Towner blood for speed and conformation. We didn’t see a Big Towner horse out here for a long time and when Ludell Hanover came out it made a big difference to our (Hogan’s) breed. ”

Donore already had the Adios blood in her pedigree.

“When Ludell Hanover came to Kina Craig he also brought Adios blood on his dam side and he was by Big Towner. The three foals we bred by Ludell Hanover – two out of Donore and the other one out of Alondra (Transport Chip – Adiola) all won races.”

So Donore went to Ludell Hanover and her first foal by that stallion Kickya Shoes Off was sold to Australia where he won five races.

But the birth of her next foal, also by Ludell Hanover was to be her last as Donore died shortly after.

“She got up to give her foal a drink and then died.”

Hogan had to send out an SOS message on the local radio station 4ZA (coincidentally it was probably this writer that put the message on air, being the presenter of the Friday night racing programme Track talk at the time) looking for a foster mother. Balfour equestrian breeder Robert Grant answered the call providing Hogan with an Anglo-Arab mare that had produced a dead foal a day earlier.

“I brought the mare home and the foal sidled up to her straight away.”

So Paddy Dunne’s old breed was hanging on by the skin of its teeth.

As the filly, named Cass Hanover started to grow, Hogan could see that his plan to breed to a Big Towner stallion was going to be beneficial.

“Cass Hanover really gave us that strong physique that the old fellas were talking about so the plan paid off.”

From only sixteen starts as a racehorse she won three and was third a further three times. Paul trained and drove her.

“I probably cost her two wins through inexperience.”

As a broodmare Cass Hanover left four foals by Miles McCool, Cameleon, Spirit Of Zeus and Washington VC.

The filly by Washington VC was the only one to get to the races.

“It was Yvonne’s (wife) choice to go to Washington VC. In hindsight it was a very very good choice. That made a hell of a difference to where we were heading. She really liked the horse. We went out to the Norman’s. He’s not a tall horse but he’s got a beautiful head on him. She took a liking to him. The Normans had done such a good job with Son Of Afella and Yvonne’s argument was ‘why wouldn’t they do a good job with Washington VC’.”

The Washington VC filly named Bubba Ho Tep won four races out of the Cran Dalgety barn. She was retired after running a courageous second to San Rafaella in the Canterbury Mares Speed Series at Addington in February 2012. She had strained a suspensory ligament on her near side.

Her first foal Bringitonhome (Courage Under Fire) was sold to Greg Payne for $22,000 at the 2015 Sale of the Stars. He wasn’t sighted on the racetrack at all early on and when enquires were made as to what the horse was up to, Hogan was able to buy him back.

“We’re fortunate to have been able to buy him back off Greg and we’re grateful for that. I guess he was always coming home given his name. He did nothing as a three year old and I think things happen for a reason. I think that time off is going to stand to him. I think he’s going to be a nice four and five year old. The stable like him.”

From three public appearances for Cran Dalgety Bringitonhome is unbeaten at two workouts and won his qualifying trial at Rangiora by two and a quarter lengths in 2-28.4 for the 2000 metres mobile.

Bringitonhome is raced by the Hogans with good Southland friends Ross Ramsey and Murray and Jill Forde.

Bubba Ho Tep’s second foal, Mistahmistah, a colt by Sportswriter has only been beaten once in six appearances and that was to stablemate Times Stride at his very first workout at Ashburton in April. He’s won two workouts and two trials and won his first start at Addington in July.

His win at Addington was a milestone in itself. It provided driver Dexter Dunn with his 2,000th winner.

He’s since been sold to Australia and won his first start for new trainer Kyle Harper at Gloucester Park in mid-December.

“I hope he does a great job because it would be great for the breed. He’s certainly started well.”

The mare’s next foal, a colt by Shadow Play, is a yearling.

“The Shadow Play is a beautiful looking yearling. We’ve just finished gaiting him up at Jeff Whittaker’s.”

Bubba Ho Tep has just had a filly foal by Sportswriter.

“The old retired trainers that I talked to were also adamant that good fillies had to ‘bring back’ to the sire the blood of his dam. So by putting Bubba Ho Tep to Sportswriter we achieved that.”

Sportswriter’s second dam is by Big Towner while Bubba Ho Tep’s dam Cass Hanover is of course by Big Towner stallion Ludell Hanover.

“Bubba was a nice big horse with speed and stamina. She’s done a grand job with her first three colts and now she’s left us a beautiful filly.”

So after a somewhat slow start Hogan says his breed has gone to another level. But he knows not to get too carried away.

“Let’s be clear. It’s early days for Bubba but it’s very encouraging. She’s leaving them with speed and they’re a nice type of horse.”

Buppa Ho Tep was served by Always B Miki in the middle of December.

‘He’s a bit of a class act on his bloodlines. He’s a sensational looking horse. We’ve got a doubleup of Big Towner. We’ve got Albatross and Adios thick through his pedigree. If she leaves us a filly we’ll be over the moon or if she leaves us a colt we’ll be as happy as.”

Away from the horses – when you dig back into Hogan’s own bloodlines there’s some interesting stuff there. His mother’s Grandfather was Ned Condon.

“He had draught horses that ploughed around Riverton and Thornbury. I think he ploughed the original Riverton racecourse and he was Clerk of the Course for a few years.”

The pedigree line is interesting on his father’s side too where thoroughbred trainer PT (Putt) Hogan appears.

He trained many winners including Queen of Song which won the 1936 Wellington Cup as a four year old and also raced in the 1936 Melbourne Cup running fourth behind 100-1 shot Wotan. Queen Of Song also won the 1939 Dunedin Cup as a seven year old.

His best galloper though was Rorke’s Drift which was described as one of the most enduring and best handicap weight carriers in Southland in his time. His career started at the Ashburton A&P Show where he ‘won his ticket’ as a carriage horse.

He was gelded, but not before he’d left two handy steeplechasers. He was then sent to Invercargill to be developed as a jumper by his owner Mr J Grigg. His trainer PT Hogan soon discovered that he had good ability on the flat and his jumping career was put on hold.

After showing his worth as a race horse he was put up for auction and bought by Mr FA Price for 650 guineas. Mr Price raced him for most of his career.

By the end of his career Rorke’s Drift had won 23 races including three Birthday Handicaps at Wingatui, two Dunedin Cups as well as the Riverton, Winton, Southland and Wyndham Cups. He also won the Winter Hurdles in 1922 at Trentham as a ten year old. He continued to race until he was twelve.

Coincidentally, FA Price who owned Rorke’s Drift, is former Winton harness trainer Roger Price’s grandfather.

Other winners for Putt Hogan included Town Major which won the 1931 Parliamentary Handicap and Sirius which won the 1905 Winton Cup.

There’s also a bit of breeding on Yvonne’s side of the family. Her father Graeme Wright was a regular racegoer and owned Free Trouble with Eddie Geary and trainer Ron Barron. The Young Charles gelding won four races. He provided Clark Barron with his first winning drive at Forbury Park in October 1980.

“That’s the strong racing part that comes through. I think it’s in your genes alright,” Paul commented.