Octogenarian trainer Kevin Gray hasn’t particularly enjoyed the last couple of months. The Palmerston North horseman’s age group have had the most stringent measures imposed on them as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and he just wants things to go back to normal, including racing.
“I have been all right, but it has been pretty hectic when you have got 50-odd horses around you and we are going nowhere,” he said. “I had 10 staff and I had to put off five of them because I didn’t have the work for them. I have had no income for nearly two and a half months. It has been very tough. “I’ve only had one owner who has called me and has told me to sell his horses. I have got five going to Australia and another five of his on gavelhouse.com.”
While a little dejected, Gray said he has been able to keep a few of his stable runners ticking over on his private training property in Manawatu during the lockdown period. However, he admitted to being a bit frustrated about having to wait until July for racing to resume. “We have broken in about 15 nice horses,” Gray said. “A lot of them will go out, because once the rain comes we could be saturated for three months. “I have still got 15 of my better horses still out in the paddock because we don’t know what we are doing (in terms of racing). “But there is nothing (cases) around the Manawatu and why can’t we get going? We are sitting back and not allowed to do much. “We should be doing a little bit more.”
Gray currently sits in tenth position on the New Zealand Trainers’ Premiership, with 27 wins, and he said he has been pleased with the way his team has gone this term. “I have upgraded the class of my horse,” Gray said. “I was very happy with the season and my owners have been happy. If you don’t have good owners you have no one.”
Meanwhile, Gray said he is looking forward to the possible return of his son, Singapore trainer Stephen, to New Zealand in the next couple of years. The Asian nation is currently under lockdown, but Gray said Stephen has been able to keep some of his team in light work. “He has got 60 horses in work,” Gray said. “No single horse is allowed to do more than two rounds on the track and he is also using his walking machine. “He has all his employees at the stable and the Government have given him S$1500 per person for the two months and the Government supplies the meals.
“He has just bought a very nice home in Mount Maunganui. His son, James, is 18 and he has got compulsory military training for two years. He wants his daughters to finish their education and then he is talking about coming home.”