Below is a list of our trainers.
Shaune Ritchie - New Zealand
In 1984 Shaune Ritchie was fifteen and still at school. Like many teenagers he had a part-time job – in his case working as a stablehand for his father Frank, mucking out boxes and riding work.
One afternoon, while working at the Ellerslie yard, he was told that a new horse had arrived earlier in the day and because Frank’s full-time staff had already picked their teams to strap for the season the new arrival would be his. An inspection of his new and sole team member brought Shaune Ritchie face-to-face with the horse that would set his career path in stone. Bonecrusher had arrived.
Within three months Shaune had left school and was on the ride of his life. Fast forward 25 years – and acknowledge a fair amount of blood, sweat and tears in between – and Shaune Ritchie is now at the top of his game.
Completing his most successful season ever in 2009/10, Shaune became just the third trainer – behind the legendary Colin Jillings and Dave O’Sullivan – to win the NZ Derby and NZ Oaks in the same season. Add a New Zealand Cup, a Desert Gold Stakes and a Metropolitan Trophy to the mix and Ritchie’s five-win stakes haul banked him as New Zealand’s leading stakes-money earner for that season. Shaune followed this up in 2011/12 with Zurella & Artistic multiple Group 1, 2 & 3 winners and listed success in both NZ and Australia.
Furthermore, Shaune has prepared the Hong Kong Gr.1 winner Thumbs Up prior to his NZ departure, and similarly the NZ Derby winner Military Move left the Ritchie stable with the perfect start to his career en route to Sha Tin.
It was during the 2010 season that I first met Shaune and his wife Allison, along with Frank as they embarked on a spring campaign in Melbourne. Using Riverend Park in Bangholme as their training base I got to know Shaune & Allison quite well. It gave me an insight into their approach to training, horsemanship and care for the animals, which appealed to me greatly.
Given my relationship and 1st hand knowledge of their approach to managing and working horses, it was only logical that KRD Racing form a strategic alliance with Shaune "across the ditch" as part of our NZ Breeding and Racing strategy.
Shaune will prepare and manage the pathways of our NZ bred progeny between NZ & Australia, in conjunction with his brother Craig operating from Warwick Farm; and as always with Frank on hand for further support. This forms part of our long-term strategy as we continue to breed and develop our own pipeline of progeny and secure new talent to nurture and develop through our process.
Craig Ritchie - Warwick Farm (Sydney)
Craig Ritchie was a leading trainer in his native New Zealand and could easily have stayed there, continuing to carve out a successful career. But the motivation to challenge and better himself prompted him to gamble and move his young family to Sydney in 2011.
Craig, whose father Frank and brother Shaune are also top trainers, left behind a large team of gallopers at Pukekohe to set up stables with only 10 horses in work at Warwick Farm. "I'm loving it in Sydney, the level of professionalism is terrific, the systems in place at Warwick Farm are very good and the money doesn't do any harm either."
Craig, whose father Frank was best-known as trainer of the great Kiwi galloper Bonecrusher, said New Zealand racing had been struggling through a tough period in recent years with feature race prizemoney in decline. "The incentives for our owners to keep talented horses in New Zealand just wasn't there, although many are happy to sell their horses to overseas interests, some of our clients want to continue to race their horses.
With Dad in his early 70's and happy on his property in Cambridge and Shaune with 60-odd in work and kicking a lot of goals - it pretty well left me to make the move." Craig discussed the opportunity with his wife Mel and felt the timing was right to move his family to Sydney. "It was a good time to come here in terms of the age of our children."
"My wife has travelled over here with horses before and understood the lifestyle. She was once an apprentice jockey and still rides a lot of work for the stable. "So, as much as it was hard to leave our families, it was the right time to come to Sydney.
Craig's raced horses in Australia regularly and in recent years including Solid Billing, winner of the 2009 Summer Cup at Randwick, 2010 Queensland Cup and a Sydney Cup placegetter earlier in 2011. In fact Craig's first experience of Sydney racing goes back more than 20 years when he worked for Bart Cummings at Randwick.
"I was with Bart for a couple of years during the period when he was training Shaftesbury Avenue and Let's Elope. Then I went to England and Ireland and worked for John Dunlop, travelling a lot of horses through Europe, which was a great experience. When I was overseas, I rode Erhaab, who won the English Derby (1994) and some other very good horses in trackwork, but I still believe Shaftesbury Avenue was the best I've been on."
"My Dad, Bart, Dunlop - they are quietly-spoken blokes who tend to analyse the horse a lot," he revealed. "Sometimes, I've watched them sit and stare at a horse for 15-20 minutes before deciding what they are going to do with it. I think I've learned a lot from them but I also have my own style. I feel I've had enough experience from different trainers to adapt to most horses."
As Craig sets about establishing himself in Sydney racing, he admits he has leaned on the advice of an old friend - Chris Waller.
Chris was in a similar position to Craig a decade ago when he arrived with few horses and started from scratch. Now he is Sydney's premier trainer. "I was pals with Chris when he was working for Paddy Busuttin some years ago. Chris has been great with his advice and that has really helped me. He told me I was better off setting up stables in the metropolitan area and didn't think there was much difference between Rosehill and Warwick Farm. I did look at boxes at Rosehill but Warwick Farm has a bit more room."
KRD Racing looks forward to working with Craig as both parties look to establish themselves within the Australian Racing Industry as serious players.