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The Bonecrusher Team

The Owner
Peter Mitchell came to buy Bonecrusher at the Waikato Yearling Sales for $3250 by following the pedigree analysis of Harold Hampton.

Hampton believed that instead of looking at racing and performance the key was in the throwback of the dam, and whether or not it was matched by the sire.

Peter believed in the theory and bought both Bonecrusher and his full brother.

Mitchell knew he had a good horse early in Bonecrusher's career but it was when he won the Avondale Guineas that he knew he had a horse that could beat anything.

Bonecrusher had never gone the 2000m trip and Mitchell implored to rider Gary Stewart that whatever he did he was not to go 3 wide.

"Well," remembers Mitchell, "Gary got stuck out 3 wide the whole race and when he pulled of that win I knew we were unbeatable".

The Trainer
Frank Ritchie was renting stables off the Auckland Racing Club and training at Ellerslie when Peter Mitchell turned up with Bonecrusher.

Frank had a staff of three and a dozen or so horses and had just started to find his way.

He'd had a good horse in Tango Kid which unfortunately broke down after showing promise and he had won a group race in Sydney with Sharman, who was sold and raced in the Sydney Cup but was beaten by a horse called Kingston Town.

Bonecrusher first put a twinkle in Frank's eye when as a two-year-old he won the Eclipse Stakes at Ellerslie. Even though he won the race on protest Bonecrusher had shown enough in the race for Frank to approach his 3-year-old season with confidence.

"In those early day's I learned a lot, and I had to learn quickly" says Frank.

"The most important thing learned at that time was the importance of planning and programming to prepare for the races you wanted to win"

These days Frank continues training in Takanini in partnership with his son Craig.

"Bonecrusher gave me a once in a lifetime opportunity and I worked hard to make the most of that. As a result I have ended up with a life long job doing the work I will always love"

The Jockey
Gary Stewart a 20 year-old apprentice jockey with Brian Deacon when he started riding Bonecrusher in 1984.

Gary rode Bonecrusher in his first start as a 2 year-old at Avondale and stayed on for the ride of his life clocking up 35 raceday rides on Bonecrusher.

Only injury or suspension could get Gary off the horse and there was no way Gary would hear of any other rider taking Bonecrusher out in front of the public for the last time on Boxing Day 2003.

"I'm his rider and I've always been his rider, and if this is his last appearance I want to be riding him for it".

These days Gary is having a good run as a trainer on the Gold Coast in Australia.

The Strapper

Shaun Ritchie was just 15 and still at school in 1984. He was working part-time after school for dad Frank Ritchie cleaning out the stables for pocket money.

The day Bonecrusher turned up all the stable full-time staff had picked the horses they would be looking after and when Shaune arrived for work there was just one left, Bonecrusher.

Shaune left school in his fifth form year to travel with Bonecrusher and went to Melbourne and Japan with him in 1986.

These days Shaune trains thoroughbreds in Cambridge New Zealand and lives with partner and fianc?¿½?¿?½ (and harness racing driver) Arna Donnelly.

The Breeder

Bonecrusher's breeder Bill Punch probably didn't get the recognition he deserved during Bonecrusher's career, but he's the epitome of New Zealand's private farmer-breeders.

Bill also bred Oarsman, with an equally unfashionable pedigree.

There's quite a story behind the four colts Imitation had by Pag-Asa - and it's a story well worth reading.

Updated on 05 Oct 2007

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