Owner savours a Saturday like no other

By Richard Edmunds

28 Apr 2022

Owner savours a Saturday like no otherCarolina Reaper (Ashvin Goindasamy) caps a day like no other for part-owner Craig Leishman with vict

Through more than three decades of owning shares in racehorses, Craig Leishman has never had a day quite like last Saturday.
The lawyer and businessman watched in amazement from his Auckland home as, in the space of less than four hours, three of his horses won races. The roll started at Riccarton Park, where promising filly Defiant collected the second win of her three-start career with a dominant performance.
Focus then switched north to Pukekohe Park, where fellow juvenile Sharp ’N’ Smart took a massive step forward from a wayward second placing on debut to win the Listed Staphanos by Deep Impact Champagne Stakes.
But the best was yet to come, as four-year-old mare Carolina Reaper capped a breakthrough season with a spectacular come-from-behind victory in the $120,000 Gr. 3 Manco Easter Handicap.
“I’m still smiling, put it that way,” Leishman told RaceForm on Tuesday afternoon. “To have three winners on one day, for three different trainers, including two stakes races – I’ve never had a day like it.
“The only downside was that we had to watch it all on our TV at home. We were actually driving down the motorway towards Pukekohe, but then we were passed by about half a dozen police cars. There had obviously been a crash further along the road, and traffic came to a standstill.
“It got to the point where we decided we were going to miss Sharp ’N’ Smart’s race, so we cut our losses and went home. I guess that was a little bit disappointing, but the thrill of the racing and the wins was definitely still there.
“I also have a share in Tiptronic and managed to miss the Herbie Dyke Stakes that he won a couple of years ago, so it seems like the horses perform their best when I stay away!”
Leishman has had shares in dozens of horses with a range of trainers, including Saturday’s winning stables Team Rogerson (Sharp ’N’ Smart), Graham Richardson and Rogan Norvall (Carolina Reaper) and Shane Kennedy and Anna Furlong (Defiant).
His involvement dates right back to the 1980s, when he got involved with a Rogerson-trained gelding who would go on to collect no fewer than 21 wins in a 113-start career, including the Wellington Steeples and two editions of the Great Northern Hurdles.
“The very first horse I ever bought a proper share in was a horse called Lord Zirito, who I saw advertised in a newspaper one day,” Leishman recalled. “I got involved with him, and that’s how I started racing horses with Rogie.
“Lord Zirito was a real favourite of mine. He won 16 races over jumps and five on the flat, and he raced until he was 14. He was the oldest horse racing in New Zealand at one stage.
“Before Saturday – and possibly still now, even after what happened on Saturday – my biggest thrill in racing was Melbourne Cup Day in 1991. We had Lord Zirito in the Cup Day Hurdle, and I also had a share in a Cup runner with Just A Dancer (eighth behind Let’s Elope).
“Jimmy Cassidy rode Just A Dancer, and he might have thought he was still riding Kiwi, he got that far back! But it was a very special day to be a part of. I remember going into the birdcage and having Bart Cummings on one side and Tommy Smith on the other. That’s something you never forget.”
While Lord Zirito started a long-standing association between Leishman and the Rogerson stable which includes Just A Dancer’s Sydney and Brisbane Cup wins, the more recent partnerships with Richardson and Norvall and Kennedy and Furlong have come about by chance.
“I had met Richie in passing beforehand, but about 12 years ago I went to Karaka and bought a cheap horse (Andi Black, bought for $9000 in 2019). I happened to bump into Richie on the stairs after that, and I asked him if he wanted to train the horse.
“We won a race with that horse, and I’ve had some great success with Richie since then, with Tiptronic being an obvious highlight.
“Getting involved with Shane Kennedy and Anna Furlong was a bit of an accident in some ways. I’m a South Island boy originally, so I always thought I should probably try to have a horse running down there.
“I happened to hear about a horse that Shane had leased from Little Avondale Stud, and I took a share, but it unfortunately never made it to the races.
“But that got me started with the stable, and now I’ve got shares in two promising two-year-olds with them, Defiant and Kikimora, which is very exciting for a couple of quite cheap horses to buy into. Kikimora was actually meant to be even better than Defiant, but it hasn’t quite worked out so far. She just hasn’t put everything together yet.”
Tavistock filly Defiant was a $20,000 purchase by Kennedy from Cambridge Stud’s draft at Karaka last year, and she has already earned more than $40,000, with a shot at the Listed Champagne Stakes at Riccarton looming on May 7.
Stablemate Kikimora, a Windsor Park Stud-bred daughter of Shamexpress, has placed in all of her three starts so far.
“I actually got my daughters involved with Kikimora as well,” Leishman said. “COVID made it hard to buy Christmas presents last year, so I decided to buy them each a share in a horse for their Christmas present. They’ve got a huge amount of enjoyment out of it, so it’s been great.”