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Trainers Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen have decided to go their separate ways after a successful 13-year partnership that yielded 235 wins, including three Group One victories.
The split is an amicable one, with Lowry carrying on operating his Game Lodge Stables in Hastings while Cullen will concentrate on the training and thoroughbred rehabilitation property he and his partner Nikki Lourie operate just north of Dannevirke.
Lowry and Cullen joined forces in 2009 after each had been training on their own for several years, both with good success.
Cullen had produced Miss Bailey for an all the way win in the 1999 Group 1 Wellington Cup (3200m) while Lowry’s much smaller team back then included the eight-time winner Lilakyn, who went down by a nose when second in the 2007 Group 2 Brisbane Cup (2400m).
Included in the partnerships 235 wins together are 13 at Group or Listed level, with the three Group One victories including the 2014 Telegraph Handicap (1200m) with Irish Fling, the 2016 Telegraph Handicap with Adventador and the 2017 Livamol Classic (2040m) with Wait A Sec.
Lowry and Cullen’s best season together was in 2018/19 when they saddled up 25 winners, while the season before that they chalked up three black-type successes among their 16 wins.
The stable is also a noted trader of horses.
Lowry said this week he and Cullen have enjoyed a great time training together and they are both proud of the success they have achieved.
“It has been a very enjoyable partnership and, despite Grant being based in Central Hawke’s Bay, he has been a great support for the stable. Without that we wouldn’t have achieved what we have done,” he said.
“Special thanks must go to him and Nikki for the work they have done in spelling and preparing our horses on their property and for transporting our team to the various race meetings, trials and jumpouts.
“It has been a great team effort and I wish Grant and Nikki every success in their future business endeavours and I will continue to support them in their operation.
“They have done a lot of rehabilitation in the past and Grant has a few of his own horses to train and does a terrific job. We’re still really good mates.”
Lowry is looking forward to a productive spring but admits most of his team are younger and he hasn’t got anything nominated for the legs of the Hawke’s Bay Triple Crown and will have a number of horses more suited to peak at Riccarton in November.
Among the stable’s better gallopers are Wewillrock, who won three of his seven starts at three and has returned in good order.
“We will pick out some targets but he will be seen in Rating 75 grade before he steps up.
“I would have liked to have had him there for the first day of the Hawke’s Bay Carnival, but I don’t think he will be ready in time and he might be there for the second day.
“A race for him is probably something like the Pegasus Stakes (Listed, 1000m) at Riccarton.”
Stakes winning mare Can I Get An Amen is back in pretraining and will be aimed at the Group 3 Lindauer Stewards Stakes (1200m) at Riccarton on November 12, while year-younger stablemate Shezzacatch is likely to be seen at Hawke’s Bay before also targeting a race like the Stewards.
Lowry is keen to build the confidence of Love Letter, who has won one of her six starts but was Group Three placed in the Desert Gold Stakes (1600m) behind star filly La Crique.
“I certainly think she is one that needs to get a bit of confidence. She has a bit of black-type so we just need to work her through her grades and we will be looking at black-type fillies and mares races in the future,” he said.
Meanwhile, promising four-year-old mare Candle, an impressive winner of two of her three starts, won’t be seen this spring after a veterinary issue came to light when a potential sale was pending.
“She will probably come back into work in the Autumn. She never went lame or had an issue but she was being sold for a lot of money and x-rayed up with a bit of a pastern issue so we decided to give her plenty of time to get over it,” Lowry said.