Duane Marfisi has not been that long in New Zealand and he is already off to Australia. He left All Stars on Thursday to look after FOLLOW THE STARS and LINDA LOVEGRACE who went earlier in the day and it is a measure of the regard in which he is held that there was no hesitation in the assignment.
Not that Duane lacks qualifications. In fact he must be the best credentialled stablehand in Australasia. Many with his background might be looking for higher honours and recognition but Duane can't fault life as he has it now.
He came here about six months ago because his wife, Janet, had gained a position at the Christchurch Hospital. Until then Duane had worked with horses in Ontario for many years. In fact he had a star of the tracks some years ago with Dali who had the misfortune to be born in the same crop as Somebeachsomewhere. That didn't stop Dali from winning major events at the Meadowlands as well as in Ontario. when establishing himself as the fastest juvenile in the world. His landmark victory was in the Woodrow Wilson at two a huge performance and he held the world record on a 1000m track at three when Somebeachsomewhere stole all the glory. But Dali still won $C1.4m and took a mark of 1.48.,2 before being retired to stud.
Duane can't get over the changes in training here compared to Canada.
"I think they treat them more as horses here than in Canada. I like the variety here too, the different tracks and different distances. We go a mile at home and that is pretty much it. That also makes a difference to the way we train them. We work them up in generally the same way but there are quite major differences."
"We couldn't put horses in paddocks up there in winter of course. It does me good to seem them getting out in the paddocks here in midwinter."
Duane worked with the leading horsemen in Canada before setting up on his own and spent about 20 years training around 25 horses in Ontario. He was well trained and rarely eased off the workload during the day.
"I'd go around the studs each year and look over the yearlings much as here and try and get one who could take you all the way. Dali (Real Artist) was a great horse but he was just born the wrong year."
It tells you a lot about the sort of guy Duane is that the former trainer of a champion is just as happy looking after the stars of All Stars without any airs, graces or feeling of superiority. One of his strengths is his people skills, getting on with all the staff with a quiet manner and strong work ethic.
"I don't really miss that pressure you have with a top horse or a leading stable. I watch Mark and Natalie on the phone so much of the day and I know all about that. I am happy just working with the horses"
But surely Duane might think once more about his own stable ?
"My ideal is to buy a place close by here and have maybe four horses to work when I go home. That is as far as I would want to go. I have done all the rest"
"We love it here. The family is a long way away but everything else is just great"
It hasn't taken long for Duane and Janet to get involved in one area however. Along with Mark and Natalie they have shares in All Star Angus a young trotter in the stable.
Dave McCarthy (All Stars Racing Stables)