Southland dairy farmer Allan Tyler is used to his brother Kelvin making headlines in racing, however, on Saturday at Riccarton it was time to grab his own share of the limelight.
In partnership with his wife Marie, Allan races She’s A Con, who stepped up from a last-start maiden win on her home track at Riverton to down the favourite Luella Cristina in the Listed New Zealand Bloodstock Warstep Stakes (2000m).
That performance was bracketed by two others in Allan and Marie Tyler’s ownership, Rating 75 1600m winner Classic Diva and Gr. 3 Coca-Cola Canterbury Gold Cup (2000m) placegetter Lightning Jack.
All three horses are trained by Kelvin Tyler and his daughter Aimee, whose Riccarton innings had begun with an opening race quinella to Prince Alby and Dunhill, both of whom are owned by Kelvin and his wife Vanessa.
“She was a big day alright for everyone, and we did our best to celebrate it,” Allan Tyler said.
Kelvin Tyler had been one of the early draft of Waikato dairy farmers to recognise opportunities outside their own province and relocate to the South Island.
That was in 1994 and he was followed in 2007 by his older brother when he likewise moved his dairying operation to Southland.
Up until then, Allan and Marie Tyler had been farming a property at Walton that bordered on Rich Hill Stud, and the opportunity to move south was in part spurred by an approach from stud principal John Thompson to purchase their farm for his expanding operation.
The Tylers’ relationship with Thompson was to take on a different hue some years later when Allan was back up north for a New Zealand Bloodstock May Weanling Sale at Karaka.
“Like the rest of my family I had always been keen on racing, and I figured the most affordable way to get into a horse or two was to buy them as weanlings,” Tyler said.
“Having the land down south meant we could grow them out, which isn’t the case for everyone and it takes a lot of people out of that market.”
By 2017 Tyler’s attention had been taken by Rich Hill newcomer Proisir, and implementing his weanling theory, he purchased a first-crop filly by the young sire for $4,000.
Named Feel The Rush, she won three races before finishing third in the Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) and after selling down some of their ownership, she relocated to Australia.
In 2018 Tyler was back at Karaka, where he outlaid $8,000 for a Per Incanto colt that was to become Lightning Jack, now the winner of seven of his 39 starts and after his Canterbury Gold Cup third, stakes of more than $350,000.
A year later Tyler’s interest in Proisir had increased, which led to the purchase of another two weanling fillies, both at $5,000, one of which was Saturday’s Riccarton winner Classic Diva.
Her record now stands at four wins, including her last two, while the other Proisir filly, Hyspec, has won once.
Warstep Stakes winner She’s A Con was also bought as a weanling, however, the route was through the Gavelhouse online auction portal in mid-2020.
“She was in the Raffles Farm dispersal and when I saw her going so cheaply I rang Bruce Sherwin and asked him if she had only three legs,” Tyler said.
“Bruce assured me there was absolutely nothing wrong with her, she was the genuine article, but his instructions were to sell.”
By Contributer and a close relation of Australian Group One winners Sleek Chassis, Marble Halls and Amphitrite, the filly certainly was cheap at $800, and her recent deeds have increased her value exponentially.
“Marie and I actually decided to put her through the Ready to Run Sale, and everything was coming together well, then she knocked a stifle just before the breeze-ups.
“We perhaps could have carried on but we decided to pull her out, and even though it was an expensive exercise getting her to that stage, I remember saying to Marie this could end up a good story.
“Kelvin has liked her from day dot and she convinced us she was worth the trip up to Riccarton when she won her maiden so well at Riverton.
“Where to now we’re just not sure, there’s a lot of travel involved from down south and we had always said the paddock no matter what after Riccarton.
“I’ve been up here for the past 10 days and for her first trip away from home she’s done so well, she even cleaned up all her feed last night.
“She’ll head home with the rest of the team and we’ll have a think about things – maybe Queensland, who knows, we’ll just see.”
Tyler’s only regret was that his wife was not with him on Saturday, having opted for a family gathering in the Bay of Plenty.
“When I phoned Marie soon afterwards she was pretty emotional knowing how much it meant to me to be there for a big win after the farm had kept us too busy so many times before.
“It’s been great what our horses have done for us over the past few years – from hanging over the birdcage fence watching others having so much fun and now to be right in the middle of it – that sure takes some beating.”