Timoti Farm

Success breeds success and a winning reputation

  • With a Melbourne Cup winning grandfather, former professional polo player turned horse trainer John Bary has always had racing running through his veins, and his passion has successfully become his business.
  • Starting from scratch, John now trains up to 40 race horses through his Hawkes Bay based business Timoti Farm.
  • With a New Zealand Derby winning horse now to his name, John shares his road to success and talks horses, challenges and the future.

Tell us about your business

“I am a public race horse trainer, which means I train for anyone that wants to give me a horse. We have our own private track, boxes and paddocks and it is going well. We have been lucky to have a very good horse or two, namely a horse called Jimmy Choux that put us on the map through winning the New Zealand Derby and Sydney’s Rosehill Guineas. It is hard work and long hours – but a lot of fun and very rewarding when you can do it and do it well.”

What sparked your interest in horse training?

“Our family has been in the horse business for over 100 years. My great great grandfather first came to New Zealand in 1880 and registered the gold colours I now race in. My great grandfather later won the 1916 Melbourne Cup with a horse named Sasanof. I was a professional polo player in America for six years and played it for 13 years in Argentina and Australia with Kerry Packer, so I’ve always been around horses.”

What challenges is the industry facing?

“Getting owners involved is the biggest thing. We operate in a very tight economic climate, but offsetting this are the many syndicates coming into the industry. A syndicate may be made up of a group of friends paying just $200 a month each to be involved. We find people are really enjoying it – going out, having a beer, getting away from the stresses of life and watching their horse run. I think that will be the way of the future as opposed to one horse one owner. Our job as well as training the horses is to train new owners and teach them that you don’t just jump in and turn the key on.”

How have recent successes on the track translated into business success?

“It is very noticeable with some of the big studs coming on board and supplying us with really nice fillies to train. Better horses will generally run better, which helps get our name in the limelight. Success breeds success.”

What are the biggest issues facing the racing industry?

“The biggest issue is getting better stake money so people will want to get their horses to run. It is ballpark $20,000 to train a horse for a year: owners want to go to the races and know they can either win their investment back or make a profit through a sale.”

“Looking to Australia, we can see how the 2007 outbreak of equine influenza (EI) affected its industry. Suddenly, there was no racing and the Government’s tax take was down and people lost their jobs.”

“The horse racing industry is bigger than the fishing industry in New Zealand – when you consider the taxes, the people employed and the associated services like transport and farriers. As an industry, we need to do a better job of telling our story and our contribution to New Zealand’s economy. I don’t think people are knowledgeable about how big the industry is and how it would affect them if it wasn’t here. I mean, here I am in little old Hawkes Bay and I employ 12 people.”

What is your view on the outlook for the industry?

“It’s competing with a lot more now, there’s much better coverage on TV and the TAB is probably a victim of its own success: having great coverage and betting at home, which makes it so easy for the punters. So less and less people are going on course, but they still try and do what they can and entice families with family days and getting the young people there – such as promoting a day at the races. People like to get done up and have a good time, but you are competing against a lot now.”

How has PwC worked with you on your business journey?

“The biggest positive is PwC looking at strategies and different ways we can structure our business to achieve our goals. We are just so involved in the horses and can forget at times we are running a business. PwC work with lots of different businesses and understand what could work for us. I think that’s been the biggest key, giving us ideas and acting as a sounding board. Not so much how to train a horse, but bringing their breadth of business experience to the table to help us.”

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