Expat New Zealander Patrick Cleave is making his dream a reality across the Tasman as he begins to establish himself as a trainer in Newcastle.
While he spent his youth on horseback on his family’s South Auckland farm, Cleave didn’t have any involvement in racing until he decided to treat himself after he became a qualified builder.
“When I finished my builders apprenticeship, I shouted myself a share in a horse with Kylie Bax,” Cleave said.
“I fell in love with racing and got to a point where I wanted to learn more and learn how to train a racehorse.
“I thought if I was going to give up building and give racing a go, I would give it a really good crack, so I moved to Australia when I was 20.”
Since then, Cleave has worked for a plethora of Australia’s leading trainers, with his initiation coming under Robert Hickmott, who conditioned owner Lloyd Williams’ army of Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) runners at the time.
“I got a job at Macedon Lodge, Lloyd Williams’ private training centre,” Cleave said.
“That was an incredible way to start. The quality of horseflesh was unreal and the facilities were first-class.
“I was there for 12 months before I got a job with Godolphin at Flemington, that was an incredible experience.”
While working for the global giant, Cleave said he got to experience the different training styles of two of Australia’s top horseman.
“I was there during the handover between John O’Shea and James Cummings, so I got to learn the difference in their training styles and how they would tweak things,” he said.
Stable foreman positions with Snowden Racing and Kris Lees then followed, before Cleave elected to pursue his own training career in Newcastle.
“I got a foreman job with Paul and Peter Snowden when they opened up their Flemington barn where I strapped Russian Revolution when he won the Oakleigh Plate (Gr.1, 1100m),” Cleave said.
“I then moved up to their Randwick barn where I was in charge of the two-year-old barn, where I looked after horses like King’s Legacy and Wild Ruler.
“My partner and I were ready to move on with our lives and buy a house, so I moved to Newcastle and got a foreman job with Kris Lees where I was running a barn of 50 horses.
“I got an opportunity to get my own license and I had a horse in work while I was still working for Kris Lees. Then there were more horses that came up so I decided to bite the bullet and go out on my own.
“Last year was a little bit slow, but this season we have started off really well. We have had two winners, two seconds and a third from seven runners.
“We had a provincial winner on Saturday with Omar (who won over 900m at Newcastle), so that was pretty good. He was the first horse I got with my family back in New Zealand and my mates from high school.
“He was my first winner and now he is my first provincial winner, so it was a big thrill to get the win on the weekend. He has been a really good money spinner for us. We only paid $14,000 for him and after Saturday he has just won $100,000 for us.”
While Cleave’s stable is still in its infancy, he is keen to build on his numbers and add some New Zealand-bred staying blood to his barn.
“This will be my first full season on my own,” he said.
“I have got room for 10 horses at the moment and we are just trying to build our numbers.
“The quality of horse that comes out of New Zealand is very high. I am coming back home next week and I am going around to a few studs to try and build a few relationships.
“The plan is to head to Karaka next year (for the yearling sales). We have got a few owners lined-up who want to get a staying-bred New Zealand horse over here.
“New Zealand produces outstanding stayers, so we might as well buy from the best source.”