Ross Paynter brought up a massive milestone at Alexandra Park on Friday night, recording his 100th win as a trainer, and the script couldn’t have been written more perfectly for the Cambridge horseman.
The horse that managed to put him over the threshold was Lemond, who has come to mean so much to Paynter.
The Cambridge trainer co-bred the son of Love You and sold him at the yearling sales to his first ever boss in the industry, legendary trainer Charlie Hunter.
Paynter also picked up another major milestone in his career with the six-year-old gelding, recording his first Group One win as a trainer when Lemond won the ANZAC Cup (2200m) earlier this year.
“It is a really good achievement (100 training wins) and it’s nice to have one that we bred that’s going on and doing the job now,” Paynter said.
“We have bred a lot of nice horses, but not a really top horse yet, but he’s in that category now."
Like many in the industry, Paynter has family to thank for his involvement in the sport, with his grandfather Bluie Paynter getting him hooked on horses from a young age.
“My Granddad was always involved with horses, mainly doing a lot of break-ins back in the early seventies and eighties,” Paynter said.
“He used to potter around with a couple of horses. I remember, going back as far as primary school, going down and helping him.”
Paynter received a solid grounding in the industry from his grandfather and went on to work for and alongside some of the biggest names in the sport.
“I have worked for quite a few different people over the years,” he said.
“I started out with Charlie Hunter originally. Eventually Charlie cut right back and I ended up going to Roy Purdon’s (and worked) with Mark (Purdon) and Tony Herlihy at Ardmore.
“I came back (to Cambridge) to Mike Berger’s when I got my junior driver’s license just to get more driving opportunities and Mike was really good that way.
“I worked for Mike for five or six years and then, wanting a bit of a break, I headed down south and helped Jeff Whittaker out for a bit. That was quite good, a working holiday for just over a year.
“I also worked for John Dickie and Sean McCaffrey, along with Paulette Screen.”
It was with Sean McCaffrey that Paynter received the biggest boost to his career, entering into a training partnership with the veteran trainer in 2016 where he notched up 40 of his career training wins.
“I spent about a year and a half in partnership with Sean McCaffrey,” Paynter said. “It was good of Sean to get me started, so I appreciated that.
“Sean left me with some of the race team after he left to go to Australia to take up an opportunity over there, so it worked out really good in the end.”
Paynter has also spent some time in Sweden and said he has picked up a fair bit of knowledge from spending some time with trainers in Europe.
“My partner is from Sweden, so generally when I get to go to Sweden I tend to go and help a trainer out for a couple of days, just to see how things are done a bit differently. You always learn stuff when you go there.”
Paynter said he is looking forward to the future with his racing team and is excited for the summer ahead with top-class trotter Lemond.
“It was nice for him to go a really good race (on Friday) and to get him back right-handed, he’s a bit more comfortable that way around. It’s also nice to have him in good form before the big races up this way.”
While some of the country’s leading square-gaiters are campaigning in Australia at present in the Inter Dominions, Lemond’s connections have decided a domestic campaign is more suitable for their charge.
“We elected not to go to the Inter Dominions mainly because there is enough racing here (in New Zealand),” Paynter said.
“You have got the Lyell Creek Stakes, the National Trot and the good mile race at Cambridge. So there is enough racing right here without having to do a lot of travelling.” – Cambridge Raceway