Gerard ready for her next challenge at Ballymore

By Dennis Ryan

29 May 2024

Gerard ready for her next challenge at BallymoreMike Moroney and Pam Gerard

In a month’s time the landscape around Ballymore Stables’ transtasman operation will have changed significantly, however there are important constants that won’t be any different.
This week Ballymore New Zealand partners Mike Moroney and Pam Gerard announced that from July 1 Gerard will take sole control of the Matamata stable founded by Moroney in 1982.
Moroney’s decision to relinquish his New Zealand trainer’s licence and hand over responsibilities to Gerard follows 18 months of planning. It also officially brings to an end a New Zealand career that began in the mid-1970s with legendary trainer Dave O’Sullivan and evolved to establishing Ballymore as a force in both New Zealand and Australia.
Last year Moroney was inducted to the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame, recognising two New Zealand trainers’ premierships and 55 Group One wins headed by the Melbourne Cup along with a raft of associated achievements.
However, the decision to hand over the reins in New Zealand to his training partner of the past nine years doesn’t mean cutting ties with his homeland – or his hometown.
Gerard has been pivotal to continuing the proven formula of interchange between Ballymore’s Matamata and Flemington stables. Obvious examples are Tofane and Roch ’N’ Horse, who began their careers in Matamata before being transferred to Melbourne and between them winning six Group One races.
Nothing will change in that respect – and in fact it may see an increase in horses transferred in the opposite direction given increased stakes and various innovation races now on offer in New Zealand.
“The timing is good to strike out on my own, what with the stakes increases and other incentives that we’ve seen this season,” Gerard said. “That will also mean horses in the Melbourne stable coming across to make the most of those opportunities, and of course horses from the Matamata stable going over there.
“I’m very grateful for everything Mike has done for me to this point, and it means a lot that while I will be the sole licence-holder in the New Zealand stable, it will be business as usual with Mike continuing to have input.”
Moroney’s commitment includes ongoing involvement in programming for the Matamata team and regular consultation with Gerard, while he’s also agreed to allow Ballymore’s New Zealand runners to still sport the familiar blue jacket and black sleeves colours.
“Those colours have been in my family for over a century now, all the way back to my grandparents when they had horses like Lady’s Bridge,” Moroney said. “They won the Great Northern Oaks in 1949 with her and they bred the Centenary Melbourne Cup winner Hi Jinx from her.
“The family colours are part of racing history and it means a lot to know they’ll continue to be worn by Ballymore runners in New Zealand. I’m only too happy for Pam to continue to use them.
“Just as Dave O’Sullivan supported me in my early years, I will continue to support Pam, which includes the two stables working in tandem as we plan programmes for respective stable members.
“You would be aware of my recent health challenges, however I’m pleased to report that I’m making very good progress and responding well to the fantastic medical care I’ve been so fortunate to receive and I’m now at home.
“I’ve stayed in close touch with everyone at both stables and it’s been great to see things ticking over pretty much as normal with winners in New Zealand and Australia. I’m looking forward to getting back to the track and involved directly in daily operations.”
Gerard’s career in racing began with then Canterbury-based trainers Peter and Dawn Williams before she established a pre-training operation in her home region of Methven. That led to branching out with a small racing team, with her star performer Narousa completing the 2003 Waikato-Great Northern Hurdles double in the hands of her long-time partner Tommy Hazlett.
With more than 80 training wins on her resume, Gerard was lured north in 2011 to take a senior position with Te Akau Racing and five years later Moroney offered her a training partnership at Ballymore’s Matamata stable.
“Our paths happened to cross at the time I was looking for a change and when Mike made the offer I was happy to take on the challenge, it was too good an opportunity to turn down.” Gerard recalls.
Subsequent years have seen Gerard flourish in her role, winning at Group One level with On The Rocks as well as multiple elite level placings to Savile Row, Arrogant, Harlech and Roch ’N’ Horse. In the current season Group and Listed wins by Pendragon, Savaglee, Pericles and Sassy Merlot head a tally of 31 that have Ballymore in the top 10 on the New Zealand trainers’ table.
“It’s hard to believe that I’ve been with Ballymore for nearly a decade now, but it’s been fantastic to work alongside Mike and benefit from his vast knowledge and training skills.
“Now I have a fresh challenge presented to me and I’m looking forward to the next step in my career. I’m very grateful for everything Mike has done for me to this point, and it means a lot that while I will be the sole licence-holder in the New Zealand stable, it will be business as usual with Mike continuing to have input and his brother Paul still involved in sales selections.
“We have a proven formula that has worked very well for a long time, so it makes perfect sense to maintain that structure.
“I’m very confident about what the future holds, especially off the back of what has been our best season and with a strong team of proven and emerging horses.”