Trainer moves his sta­bles to HB

Havelock North Village Press - - News -

Some­times in life things sim­ply fall into place, and that’s the case with horse trainer Lee Somervell’s de­ci­sion to move to Hast­ings.

Somervell has en­joyed great suc­cess train­ing from the late Ada Parn­well’s Cam­bridge Thor­ough­bred Lodge over the past 12 years, but a fate­ful com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors has prompted his move.

“I’m in my 70s now and I think it’s time for a change,” Somervell said.

“I’ve met up with a lovely lady, Shirin Wood, over the last 18 months. We have both ex­pe­ri­enced sim­i­lar set­backs re­cently. A few years ago I lost my wife, and she lost her hus­band to can­cer and we’ve met up and we’ve been given a sec­ond chance and I’m en­joy­ing life.

“I’m very lucky to have met her and she’s from Hawke’s Bay. Her late hus­band was a life mem­ber of the Hawke’s Bay Rac­ing Club, so there’s a very strong con­nec­tion there.”

Somervell takes up the lease of Carl­ton Lodge, a 4ha prop­erty owned by for­mer trainer Dianne Sergeant, on Oc­to­ber 1.

“When I made the de­ci­sion to move I ac­tu­ally looked at some places in the Waikato but noth­ing suited my needs. I’m not a big sta­ble so it wasn’t like I could lease a big sta­ble block.

“So, when I heard that Dianne was look­ing for some­one to lease her prop­erty I jumped at the chance.

“It’s a lovely setup that is very sim­i­lar to my setup here and it’s just the way I like to train. I like my horses to be in the pad­dock dur­ing the day and come into the sta­bles at night.

“Dianne and her lovely daugh­ter Tina have been in­volved in show jump­ing so they’ve had horses there, but Diane stopped train­ing from there quite a few years ago and it hasn’t been a rac­ing setup.

“To­gether with the Hawke’s Bay Rac­ing Club they have made me feel very wel­come and I’m very hum­bled by that be­cause I thought there could be a few headaches.”

Hawke’s Bay has al­ways ap­pealed to Somervell and is the home of some of his most suc­cess­ful own­ers.

“John and Colleen Dun­can, who raced Fleur de Lune with Ada and who bred and co-own Stradi­var­ius and Is­abel, and Gra­ham Rod­dick, who bred and raced Ad­dic­tive Habit, are from Hawke’s Bay, so I have some lovely con­nec­tions there.

“All of my own­ers have stayed very loyal and all 12 of my horses are com­ing with me, which is also very hum­bling.”

Somervell, orig­i­nally from Mata­mata, will also take two key staff mem­bers to Hawke’s Bay, one who first worked for him when he first started train­ing in Leam­ing­ton in 1984.

“It’s the ta­pes­try of life if you like,” he said. “Katie Don­ald, now Bussey, was ap­pren­ticed to me when I first started train­ing in Leam­ing­ton in the mid-80s.

“Katie was a very suc­cess­ful ap­pren­tice and rode many win­ners in those days. She and her hus­band Dale have sub­se­quently been in Hong Kong and they’ve got a grown-up fam­ily now.

“It’s come full cir­cle and she’s my head girl now and she does a fan­tas­tic job. She and Dale will be com­ing down and head­ing up my team. It’s just been fan­tas­tic how it has all fallen into place.”

Asked what he will miss the most about Cam­bridge, Somervell is quick to ac­knowl­edge the friend­ships he’s made at the Cam­bridge track.

“I’ll miss the ca­ma­raderie with my fel­low train­ers,” he said.

“There’s over 1000 horses trained at the Cam­bridge Jockey Club and some of the best train­ers in Aus­trala­sia train there.

“The likes of Mur­ray Baker and An­drew Fors­man, those guys are very good friends of mine and I’ll miss swap­ping sto­ries at the trainer’s hut each morn­ing. But, I cer­tainly won’t miss the weather.”

At 73, Somervell hasn’t con­sid­ered re­tire­ment.

“The bot­tom line is I love horses,” he said. “I love my horses and I love what I do. There’s noth­ing like the chal­lenge of train­ing win­ners — it keeps you young. I’m nowhere ready to re­tire yet.”

‘All of my own­ers have stayed very loyal and all 12 of my horses are com­ing with me, which is also very hum­bling.’

LEE SOMERVELL

PHOTO / TR­ISH DUNE

Lee Somervell is mov­ing his train­ing op­er­a­tion to Hast­ings.

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