It is a long way from being a boy growing up in Poland during the Second World War and being deported to a camp in Siberia, to winning races on a fairly regular basis at Alexandra Park in Auckland, but that is the life story that Alek Goryl can reflect on. (May 16, 2007)
Born on New Years Day in 1933 and 74 on his next birthday, the sprightly Goryl found himself in New Zealand shortly before the war ended, having lost his entire family - father, mother, brother and grandmother - while 'employed' in a timber camp in Siberia.
Between the Red Cross and New Zealand government, Goryl was extremely lucky to be placed with an Auckland family, and for a while fancied the idea of being a jockey, before doing an apprenticeship as a panel beater, a business he still runs today in Ardmore although on a much smaller scale compared to the one in Auckland he sold up about eight years ago.
"There wouldn't have been one in a 100 that made it out of Siberia alive, but thankfully the Red Cross took over before the end of the war and relocated some people with exceptional cases," recalls Goryl.
"At 18 I was only five foot and six stone and wanted to be a jockey, but I was told I couldn't being under government supervision.
"They said to first learn a trade and I would always have a real job - it's just a pity a lot more kids nowadays aren't told that.
"So I thought about being a panel beater and the chap who was looking after me said that would be an excellent idea as 'everyone will own a car one day'," he added.
Goryl started out by training the odd pacer at Alexandra Park some 40 years ago and his first winner was the appropriately-named Warsaw Song, a son of Ricochet he'd bred in 1968 who won races at two Waikato meetings in 1972 in the hands of Don Hayes and Frank Cooney before Goryl drove him to win at Manawatu.
The odd useful horse would follow before Goryl found a couple of good ones in the early 90s.
Deluxe Byrd won seven races pacing and Sole Patron, a pacing-bred son of El Patron, six races trotting, most of those wins when driven by Tony Herlihy and all of them at Alexandra Park.
It was Sole Patron who whetted Goryl's appetite for trotters and a few years later, his fortunes would take another major turn for the better when he purchased three trotting broodmares from one of National Bloodstock's dispersal sales in 1990.
Francine was a Game Pride mare from a half-sister to Precocious who had left some moderate trotting performers, and Goryl bought her in foal to Pernod Eden with a Chiola Hanover filly at foot.
Neither filly amounted to anything though and that particular venture soon came to an abrupt halt.
Meandros was a more than useful trotting mare by Game Pride who was from the good producing mare Meander (by Great Evander from a mare by Precaution), and Goryl likewise bought her in foal to Pernod Eden with a Chiola Hanover filly at foot, for $2400.
The Chiola Hanover filly was "a terrible knee knocker who also had no speed, which is not easy", but the Pernod Eden foal would be a filly in Meander In Eden, a fine stayer who had 11 wins and numerous placings for $90,420.
Her last win was at Alexandra Park over her favoured distance of 3200m, where in downing Miss Whiplash and The Patriot from 50m, she posted a then national record of 4.05.4, which has since only been bettered by La Coocaracha's 4.05.3 in the Rowe Cup.
Take A Moment and Lyell Creek recorded 4.05.5 and 4.05.8 in the Dominion and Rowe respectively during their stellar careers, and they are the next fastest.
The third mare purchased by Goryl at that 1990 sale was Librette, whose first foal had been the fine trotting mare Indette (21 wins) and whose eighth foal was Chiola Cola (18 wins, Dominion), although the latter was just a 2-year-old at the time.
From a dual gaited family, Librette had a Silver Dollar II (by Meadow Skipper) filly at foot and was also in foal to Pernod Eden, and was purchased for $2100.
The Pernod Eden foal would be the colt Liberator, who had nine wins and numerous placings and earned $104,346.
ll of his wins were at Alexandra Park and in the last of them in November, 1998, he came off 40m to down Meander In Eden by a nose in what has been a career highlight for Goryl.
The Silver Dollar II filly, Dollar Dette, qualified as a trotter and raced eight times, and later qualified as a pacer, and was no good at either - "she didn't have a third gear".
However, her second foal is Aleksander Fredro, who came good at the start of the season with a winning treble, and who while struggling a bit since, promises to advance further than his present four win assessment before too long.
The 7-year-oldgelding won his debut in Auckland as a late 3-year-old, but was a "juvenile delinquent" back then and would subsequently spend the best part of two and a half years in the wilderness while Goryl got him sorted out.
Going along very quietly in work was the secret for Aleksander Fredro, who is named after a famous Polish writer and it is just a coincidence that his breeder-owner-trainer has the same first name.
Dollar Dette's first foal was acolt in Flojian who had been equally promising for a start, downing Pompallier when winning a qualifying trial, but he had a stomach ailment which got worse as time went on.
She has since left a Pernod Eden mare in Foreign Interest, who was sold to Australia and won a couple of races; angelding who was sold as a yearling at Karaka to Dave Gibbons' son Scott, and a "more refined" 2-year-old by who is "still a colt, but not for much longer".
Goryl likes to breed from his mares every second year and Dollar Dette has since had two seasons off.
Meander In Eden is getting bred most years however and had afilly this season before going to .
Meander In Eden first had a "dummy" foal which wouldn't drink before her first official foal was thefilly Meander In The Sun, who won a race on the grass at Pukekohe Park in March after several placings.
"She is just a guts and my biggest problem has been getting her down and keeping her to a racing weight - she can't be turned out for more than an hour each day - and you don't see too many fat ladies running marathons."
Anfilly was then sold privately to John Ewen, but had an over abundance of nervous energy and died while being broken in after a mishap.
Meander In Eden then left a 3-year-old filly bycalled Meander With , who showed "too much promise as a 2-year-old".
"She could have raced last season, but we decided to back off and give her a good spell, as she could have easily been ruined by an amateur like me."
By Frank Marrion