As a hard-working “super optimist”, Paul Hester has what it takes not only for racetrack success but even more importantly for surviving cancer.
On Hawke’s Bay Racing’s Daffodil Raceday, those traits came together in perfect harmony for the Hamilton drainage contractor when his home-bred four-year-old Rosie Brahma carried the Cancer Society colours to victory in the second race on the card.
Eight years ago Hester’s life was on the line after being diagnosed with cancer of the larynx. In spite of aggressive radiation treatment his voice box had to be surgically removed, but that hasn’t stopped him from continuing to enjoy life to the full.
Pride of place on his Whatawhata property west of Hamilton belongs to a small group of thoroughbreds, from which Rosie Brahma is the emerging star with wins at her only two starts for trainer Cody Cole.
“I have a lot to be grateful for and I have the utmost respect for medical people like the Cancer Society and the role they have played in my recovery,” Hester told RaceForm. “I spent four months in Waikato Hospital and lost 13 kilos – I could have been a highweight rider!
“Being a super optimist, when I got out of hospital I kept breeding horses, bought another digger and kept doing what I have always done.
“That unbroken two-year-old in the back paddock keeps us all enthusiastic about the racing industry.”
As a self-confessed lifetime racing and breeding nut, Hester has raced a number of horses over the years and now thinks the daughter of Darci Brahma and five-time winner Crackling Rosie might be his best ever.
“Tony Cole used to train for me and it means a lot for this one to be trained by his son. Cody is a young man after my own heart – he’s not afraid of hard work and I’m thrilled to be able to give him a decent one to train.”