All Roads lead to Melbourne

Racing Desk
1 November 2017

Te Kauwhata trainer Tony Cole lined up Argonaut Style in the 1987 Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) and three decades later he will have another horse compete in the famous Flemington Carnival, but this time as an owner on Derby day.

Cole part-owns All Our Roads, who is in his first campaign for leading Sydney trainer Chris Waller and will jump from barrier one in the Gr.1 Kennedy Mile (1600m) on Saturday.

Tony Cole Photo: Trish Dunell Photography

The Road To Rock gelding has had two starts for Waller, placing in his Australian debut at Randwick over 1400m, before running fifth in the Gr.3 Moonga Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield.

Cole purchased All Our Roads for $40,000 out of Little Avondale Stud’s 2013 New Zealand Bloodstock Select Yearling Sale draft and syndicated him among his group of owners.

“He was an interesting horse,” Cole said. “He was a spec buy as a yearling, he walked past me and I thought he was a nice horse so I bought him.

“It’s a big syndicate I put together and I have only got a small share in the horse. A lot of my old owners came in on the horse, including Don and Mark Shuker.

“Don would have been my first owner and I have trained 50-odd winners for him. He was the president of the New Zealand Rugby Union at one stage. He’s a local guy and has supported me all the way through. We’ve had a lot of fun and won a lot of races.”

Cole initially trained All Our Roads before a few setbacks led to him sending the horse north to be trained by Donna Logan and Chris Gibbs at Ruakaka.

“We raced him through as a three-year-old and he got to a point where we couldn’t travel him and he wasn’t travelling well, he wasn’t coping with everything,” Cole said.

“So we gave him a spell and sent him up to Logan-Gibbs up north, because I knew all the racing over the winter would involve no travelling up there, so he could basically walk to the races. He won four races up there over that winter.

“It worked and worked really well, placing second in the Gr.2 Rich Hill Mile and winning the Gr.2 Windsor Park Mile at Tauranga. The owners said why don’t we have a look at Australia? I thought okay, let’s go. So that’s how he ended up where he is.”

Cole is busy on his 240-acre sheep and beef farm at the moment so won’t be heading over to Melbourne this weekend himself, but will be represented by his daughter Celia, who works for the Australian Turf Club in Sydney, and son Cody.

Meanwhile, Tony Cole trained his first place getter in sometime on Friday when Project was runner-up in the Ssangyong Counties Cup Day 25 Nov Maiden (1200m) at Counties last Friday.

“It’s the first one (runner) I have had in ages,” Cole said. “It is a little horse I bred actually, I raced his mother. He’s a first foal out of her. He’s a little hobby for me and I race him with Don and Mark Shuker and Rob McDuff, another keen rugby man.

“He’s just a neat little horse. If Steve Hansen ever needed another niggly little halfback he would be ideal.”

Cole has reduced his stable numbers in recent years after he and wife Louise re-evaluated their level of involvement after Louise was involved in an horrific fall a couple of years ago.

“It (the fall) was horrendous,” Cole said. “I was lucky that the morning it happened Sam Collett, who is Cody’s partner, was here riding work with Lou and she had a phone on her and rang me and said I better get down there.

“I got down there and it is one of those falls where you think oh shit, this is not good. She was knocked around and was unconscious, she was barely breathing, it was terrible.

“She was airlifted out and was in intensive care in Waikato Hospital for 11 or 12 days and she came through. I’ve seen a lot of people fall off and seen a lot of things happen in my life, but it was one of those times where I thought oh my God.

“It’s probably taken her two years to recover physically, but mentally it has taken a lot longer. It’s taken a bit of time but she is fine now.”

The fall came shortly after Cole himself was involved in a fall that led him to question his own involvement.

“I had had a fall about a year before that,” he said. “I had been bucked off one and absolutely destroyed my shoulder and I felt I didn’t really want to be physically riding them anymore. Both of us have ridden the bulk of the work over the years.

“When Lou got hurt we thought let’s just change what we are doing a little bit. We have got a lovely farm here, so we’ll start using that and train a few less horses.”

In a training career that has spanned more than three decades, Cole is starting to taper back his involvement and is looking forward to watching the development of his son Cody as a trainer.

“I’m trying to hand the reins over to my son Cody. He’s going really well, he’s an extremely hard worker and an absolute professional, he’ll make it.

“He’s bought a place in Tirau with 20-odd acres and is setting that up at the moment to be his own property where he will break and pre-train and train from.

“It’s been a great career and I’ve had a lot of fun, but you get to the end of it and you can’t do what you have always done and you think maybe I should do something else. Not that I don’t want to do it, I just physically can’t do it.

“There have been a lot of highlights (in my training career), I have had some wonderful horses, met a lot of good people and had a lot of fun.

“Just to have another runner in a Group One race in Melbourne is fantastic.” – NZ Racing Desk.

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