Today we continue our series on horse ownership – how did it all start? And what are your favourite memories?
We’ve already heard from Trevor Casey, Elizabeth McCormick, Pauline Pattullo, Pip Gerard, and Ross Cleland. Today it’s Melissa Whyte’s turn.
By Dave Di Somma – Harness News Desk
Melissa Whyte’s racing dreams may seem common enough – she desperately wants to breed and race a winner.
But what sets her apart is that the horse can’t be just bay, black or grey – it has to be multi-coloured.
Put simply, she is obsessed with anything piebald or skewbald.
She has had winners before. Many of her horses have carried the “Native” name, with Natives Lasting Love her most successful. The Love You – Arnoy’s Pride mare was bred by Melissa Eden as she was then, and then leased to North Canterbury trainer Austin Thornton. She went on to have seven wins from 99 starts.
With her dad John Eden being a hobby trainer she was brought up with horses and had her first pony, a Standardbred, at seven. She later had a specially shortened sulky made “for my short legs, as I’m only 5’1” (1.55 metres). “
“I was doing fast work when I was 13.”
The 42-year-old works in the family business, Burwood Produce, and when not there she spends most of her time with her horses. Right now she has 15 – “they are all sorts”.
The first horses she bred to hoping to get a skewbald or piebald offspring was Wilkie’s Wonder in 1996. His sole win (from 17 starts) was in 1982 in Wellington.
“I got a grey mare and put her in foal and got a plain bay – no white markings.
“Wilkie’s Wonder had eight foals on the ground and none were coloured that season!”
But it seems her persistence is paying off. She finally now has a breeding combination that will produce coloured horses.
Cullermein is a three win pacing mare that is a now 17-year-old mare by Christian Cullen out of one time cult hero Splashed. In 2000 she won her two races (42 career starts 1999-2001) and her distinctive colouring made her a crowd favourite wherever he went.
Cullermein is in foal to Natives Royal Affair, a 10-year-old skewbald that Whyte owns and bred.
Native’s Royal Affair is homozygous (has identical pairs of genes). That means his progeny are going to be 100 per cent coloured.
For Whyte it’s a dream result : “Never in a million years would I think this would happen.”
She can’t wait to see what she gets. The foal is due at the start of November.
“If I get a win I can retire happy”
And her breeding interests don’t stop there. Also due in September is a foal out of Memphis Miss (Christian Cullen – Memphis Melody) by Art Major.
“So it’s going to be a very exciting next few years.”