Taranaki couple Carole and John Lynskey are enjoying some time down in Queenstown this week toasting the success of their Group One winner Puntura following his victory in the Thorndon Mile at Trentham last Saturday.
It was the 11th win of his career, and continued a purple patch of form this preparation, with his Group One triumph following successive wins in the Gr.3 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m) at Riccarton in November and Gr.2 Manawatu Challenge Stakes (1400m) at Trentham last month.
The Lynskeys were trackside on Saturday and were able to join in on the celebrations in what was a red-letter day for trainer Robbie Patterson, who went on to win the Gr.3 Wellington Cup (3200m) later on the card with Mary Louise.
“We have just had a dream for the last two months,” said John Lynskey, who bred and owns Puntura with his wife Carole.
“I am so pleased for the stable, they are such a great crew, work so hard, and get the results.
“We are enjoying ourselves down in Queenstown. We share in a keg of whiskey and there is a big function for all the keg owners at Cardrona on Thursday night, so we are enjoying celebrating the win down here.”
The Lynskeys were self-made dairy farmers and spent their working life building their farm empire and are now enjoying the fruits of their labour, with thoroughbred racing and breeding being a centrepiece of their enjoyment.
“Carole and I went farming. There was no family land behind us, we sharemilked and started talking to bank managers and got bigger and bigger,” Lynskey said.
“I also bred bulls and went really well. We have since sold the farm to our son and I thought ‘I have bred bulls, I’ll try this horse lark’ and the luck has just kept going. I know there is science behind it, but there is a lot of luck as well.”
While the Lynskeys enjoy breeding, they first got involved in racing by chance after meeting well-known Taranaki trainer John Wheeler at a racing function they attended to support their son Simon, who was making a sponsor’s presentation at the meeting on behalf of his company Ravensdown.
“It was a big day and very social and I met John Wheeler for the first time and told Wheels that one day when I got into horses, he would be our trainer,” Lynskey said.
“Wheels responded by saying he had nine horses in the paddock and one has my name on it. We ended up with a share in Tobouggie Nights and he took us to Australia three times, and we won the Von Doussa and Great Eastern Steeplechase in 2012. What a journey.”
The Lynskeys were then hooked on racing and continued to expand their racehorse portfolio.
“We then got 25 percent of Gold Cape and she was a gem and had 25 percent in Doiknowyou with Ben Rophia, and he ran second in a Winter Cup (Gr.3, 1600m) and Rotorua Cup (Gr.3, 2200m),” he said.
While they were enjoying their time racing horses, it was another function that would be the catalyst for the Lynskeys to enter the breeding game.
“We went to a fundraising event to help get Jordie Barrett off to UK on a cricket tour. Sam Williams (Little Avondale Stud principal) donated a Zed service, and I purchased it,” Lynskey said.
“I then went to Wheels looking for a mare and got Celtic Rose. We only got one foal from her before we lost her, but that foal ended up being Beaudz Well.
“Carole and I have retained 50 percent, with Beaudy Barrett, Marty Banks and James Marshall all have 10 percent each.
“He’s been a damn unlucky horse that ran second in the New Zealand Cup (Gr.3, 3200m).”
Lynskey was on the board of LIC (Livestock Improvement Corporation) at the time and added to his broodmare band when gifted two-win mare Mumzahoney by LIC secretary Selwyn Tisch, who was suffering health issues.
Mumzahoney would become a broodmare gem for the Lynskeys, producing Puntura as her third foal for the couple.
After two matings with Haradasun, nostalgia played a big part in her subsequent matings, with Lynskey selecting Vespa as his stallion of choice for Mumzahoney.
“When I met Carole, she wore miniskirts and rode a Vespa,” Lynskey said. “The name stuck with me, and this was early in my horse days, but I followed Vespa as he was racing. He became a stallion and I asked Selwyn what a Vespa/Mumzahoney (mating) would look like. He suggested others (stallions) but at the end of the day he said yes, it could click.
“I had this gut feeling and kept going back (to Vespa). Puntura was born and some crazy notion told me this guy is something special. He always looked proud and full of himself.
“I didn’t know horses but knew cows, we had 1800 of them, but I did know something smart when I see it. For that reason, we kept 100 percent ownership.”
Lynskey’s hunch proved to be right and Puntura made an instant impression on the track, winning four consecutive races early in his career, and duly attracted plenty of international buyer interest.
“He won four in a row and we had a Hong Kong offer. It was a very good offer, but the vet check found a bone chip,” he said.
“The vet said don’t worry as it’s in a harmless position, so the check was a pass, but he had to record the chip and that scared off the buyers. They later came back with a hugely discounted purchase price and we decided to keep him.”
Lynskey is pleased they elected to retain the gelding who has taken them on the ride of their life, winning 11 races to date on both sides of the Tasman, highlighted by his elite-level victory over the weekend.
The Lynskeys are excited for the future, not only with Puntura but also with his younger full siblings, including Margherita Veloce, who has won three and placed in six of her 13 starts to date.
They are also excited about the prospects of his three-year-old full-brother, Gigi Galle, who is named in memory of their close relation, who sadly passed away.
“My Italian second cousin’s son Giacomo lived with Carole and I off and on for seven years,” Lynskey said. “He went home to Italy after COVID and was climbing in the alps with his father and slipped to his death. His name was Giacomo Galligiano, Gigi as his mates called him.”
Lynskey’s Italian heritage also played a part in the naming of several of his other horses, including Puntura.
“Vespa is wasp in Italian and as a result we called our first Vespa foal Sting, which is Puntura in Italian,” he said. “Then my granddaughter named his sister Daisy. Daisy in Italian is Margherita so Margherita Veloce gets her name, Fast Daisy.”
Still coming down from the high of Group One triumph last weekend, the Lynskeys are hoping for more elite-level success with Puntura when they head to Otaki next month for the Gr.1 Trackside Otaki-Maori WFA Classic (1600m).
“We were going to race in the home Cup (Gr.3 Taranaki Cup, 1800m) on the third (of February) but now Robbie said we’ll now go to Otaki for the Group One,” Lynskey said. “It is the same purse ($400,000) as the Thorndon Mile.”