It would be fair to say John was born and bred into horse racing. With his Great Great Grandfather George Gatonby Stead one of the founding fathers of the Canterbury Jockey Club, Great Grandfather Wilfred Gatonby Stead owner of 1916 Melbourne Cup winner Sasanof and Great Uncle Bob Stead the stud master of the famous Sasanof Stud in Hastings, it was inevitable John would find his way into the racing industry.
Although best known for his exploits with the champion Jimmy Choux, it was The Hombre who first put John on the New Zealand and Australian racing maps. Winning his first two races at Hastings with ease The Hombre went on to Queensland to win the Rough Habit Plate and run second in the Grand Prix two weeks later.
A stable favourite he won 7 races and finished 2nd ten times including a gallant second placing in the Group 1 Railway Stakes at Ellerslie in 2012.
But it was Jimmy Choux who sealed John’s reputation as a trainer of some ability. Jimmy won 12 of his 26 starts including 5 Group 1’s in New Zealand and Australia and ran 2nd to Pinker Pinker in the toughest W.F.A. race in the world….The Cox Plate.
When I asked John to name Jimmy’s best win he was unequivocal in his reply “The Group 1 Rosehill Guineas in Australia”..…but it was The New Zealand Derby where he showed his true heart and courage.
When he heard those horses coming up behind him with 200m to go on that Heavy 10 track he dug in as if to say “not today boys” and accelerated again… “I still get goose bumps thinking about it” he said.
With a career total of 244 wins in New Zealand and Australia to date…..34 of these are Group or Listed black type winners which is where every owner wants to be with their horse.
Married to Laura, their training facility is on 65 acres of magnificent flat land 10 km south of Hastings with purpose built modern stabling, paddocks for every horse and a 1300m training track encompassing one plough and two grass tracks.
It not only provides the perfect environment for them to bring up their two children but also the perfect location to train thoroughbreds to reach their full racing potential.