Home' Breeding and Racing : Issue 113 December 2013-January 2014 Contents 30 FOR DAILY INDUSTRY NEWS UPDATES VISIT WWW.BREEDINGRACING.COM
he Mornington-based trainer ended
the nation’s most famous week in
racing equal third on the trainers’
table with victories by his stable stars
Smokin’ Joey and Bel Thor. After winning
the Gr3 Tab.com.au Stakes on Derby Day,
Smokin’ Joey went on to run a courageous
and close second to Epsom Handicap winner
Boban in the Gr1 Emirates Stakes, and in the
process provided Hunter with all he needed –
On the outside it may appear that Wez
Hunter and his Spring Carnival success has
come from complete obscurity – but in reality
he has had considerable experience in many
facets of the game.
Hunter’s passion for horses was ignited
as a child when his family’s chicken farm at
Red Hill was around the corner from David
Hains’ Kingston Park, home of the legendary
three-time Cox Plate winner Kingston Town.
However it was not until he completed work
experience at Tony Noonan’s stables that his
racing career began to take shape.
During his stint at Noonan’s, Hunter
travelled to Sydney and Brisbane with super
sprinting mare Ortensia. Other than Black
Caviar, Hunter says she is the best horse he
has seen race. “I’ve never met a tougher one,”
he tells after having witnessed her remarkable
recovery from a severe infection in a tendon
sheath as a three-year-old.
As well as getting a “really good
grounding” working for Noonan before
taking out his own licence three years ago,
Hunter has spent time as a jockey manager
looking after the likes of Brad Rawiller, and
also worked as a driver for Nash Rawiller.
This experience has assisted Hunter in his
training life with the capacity to communicate
with many different people professionally.
“Communication-wise it has helped. You
have to deal with a lot of disgruntled trainers
as a jockey manager,” Hunter quips.
Hunter’s on-course stables at Mornington
have a capacity of 15, but he also can take up
to 30 horses in his pre-training side of the
business. Good friend Sam Kavanagh chose
Hunter’s Mornington base as the spot to
stable his charge Midsummer Sun during the
Wez Hunter is clearly very happy to be
training from Mornington. He speaks fondly
of his interactions with his fellow peninsula
peers: “Everyone gets along,” he says.
Amongst the training colleagues Hunter has
learnt from, he describes Pat Carey as his “go
to man when I’ve got an issue.”
Hunter often works his horses with Carey’s
and his admiration and respect for Carey’s
willingness to impart his own expertise is
With just eight in the stable at present,
Hunter’s plans for growth are all about quality
not quantity. When asked where he’d like to
see his stable in five years time, he says he
would be content with a team of 20-30 horses.
“I wouldn’t want to get any bigger. I’m
conscious that getting too big means you
would have to sacrifice going to the beach
and I’d never want to do that as it does
wonders,” Hunter explains.
The beach work is an essential part of
Hunter’s training regime. Despite being only
400 metres from the Mornington racecourse,
Hunter takes horses to the beach most
days. “ They don’t all go to the track every
morning,” he reveals.
It is undoubted that this dedicated and
diverse approach has played a big part in the
rejuvenation of Smokin’ Joey. Hunter is the
talented galloper’s third trainer following
Anthony Freedman and Mick Price. Like
many ambitious trainers, Hunter has had to
build his reputation with tried horses.
Whilst giving his horses every opportunity
to improve in a change of environment,
Hunter says he is not ruthless in his
assessment of horses but he is prepared to
move them on quickly if he believes they are
not capable of winning. “It costs the same to
have a slow one in work as a fast one,” Hunter
No matter what way you look at it, Hunter’s
achievements with a small team over a short
period are significant. In his first year of
training Hunter was given three two-year-
olds, the first of which was Frupper who won
his first start at Caulfield as a two-year-old.
You may not have heard of Wez Hunter before this
year’s Melbourne Cup week at Flemington,
writes Cassandra Simmonds, however in the space
of one week, the 33 year-old trainer let his horses
put his name up in lights.
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The city winning and multiple stakes placed
Bel Thor is another of these two-year-olds –
and the third horse Hunter believes is capable
of winning a metropolitan race.
Forever indebted to Smokin’ Joey,
Hunter is hopeful that this success will be
a springboard for building investment by
owners and the opportunity to have yearlings
in the stable for the first time. “You can’t beat
winning a race on Derby Day for exposure,”
“I’ve never bought a yearling but hopefully
that’s about to change,” Hunter says ahead of
the 2014 yearling sales season. With plans
to attend the Magic Millions Gold Coast
Yearling Sale with bloodstock agent Leonard
Russo, he is hanging out for the next phase
in his training life and the opportunity to
educate a horse from the beginning of its
As for the immediate future don’t be
surprised to see Hunter in the winner’s stall
over the Melbourne and Sydney Autumn
Carnivals with plans in train for both the big
striding Smokin’ Joey and Bel Thor.
On a final note; so what is the best thing
about racing according to Wez Hunter?
“Winning, it doesn’t matter where it is. And
meeting great people creates opportunities.”
This is an opportunity seized.
“Like many ambitious trainers, Hunter has
had to build his reputation with
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