Jeff Crouth has seen the Grim Reaper too many times to carry on training standardbreds.
The 67-year-old said it was finally time for he and his wife Trish to think about themselves.
In mid-October Crouth will retire from training after just on 30 years involvement in harness racing.
The Pukekohe horseman, who drove four winners in the early 1980s, was a better than average conditioner training 230 winners from 1,876 starters. He’s also placed 416 times for $2.76m in purses. His UDR strike rate currently stands at 0.2239.
Crouth’s best year was in 1995 when he trained 19 winners. Stakes-wise 1991 was his most lucrative season winning $344,478. He’s won more than $200,000 in a season four times.
“My wife and I are going to have a year to ourselves travelling around New Zealand and then we will decide what we do. We could buy a small business but it’s our time now and I won’t be returning to training.
“I might own one, one day but that will be it. I don’t leave on a sour note. I have loved the industry, but these days unless you have loyal owners or a really good horse the game is a bit tough.
“I believe things do have to change dramatically if people are going to stay in the game. It’s hard for anyone outside the top 10 on the trainers’ premiership to survive these days,” Crouth said.
“We are also losing too many good horses to Australia. Stormy Sirocco is doing well over there but exports are tough on trainers. I’ve lost a couple recently,” he added.
The Pukekohe horseman said he had bought a retirement home at Marsden Cove just south of Whangarei.
“I’ve had some close shaves with my health in recent years and the Grim Reaper has confronted me three times. I think it’s now time for us to be doing better things than training horses.
“It’s a young man’s game these days - but boy does it does make you tough. As they say in poker, it’s time for me to fold,” Crouth said.
You can’t blame for Crouth wanting to take it easy. He has suffered a triple by-pass, beat deep vein thrombosis, dealt to abdominal aneurisms, and abscesses of the liver.
Crouth has had some good horses since the early mid-1980s.
The former Franklin Trotting Club president (four years) trained Running On Faith to Jewels and Northern Oaks victories in 2007. He also won Sales Series Finals with Casino Lord, Butlers First, Vital Eyes and Kamwood Kango.
“I won some pretty big money back when the big money wasn’t really about. Those Sales Series Finals races were all worth more than $100,000,” Crouth said.
Crouth has also been president of the Horseman’s Association and was vice president of the North Island Standardbred Breeders Association.
Crouth was born at Murawai Beach and educated at Helensville High School. At the age of 17 he joined the Police Cadets but didn’t pursue a career there. Instead he entered the building trade prior to taking up harness racing in 1985.
By Duane Ranger
Harness Racing New Zealand