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Paul Gadsby

Going Great Guns

Paul Gadsby (photo: Gold Circle)

Paul Gadsby (photo: Gold Circle)

Ashburton-based trainer Paul Gadsby has hit the headlines with his Gr1 winning Gimmethegreenlight charge, Gunner.

About Paul

The 59 year old Paul (who says he is enjoying his last year under 60) was born in Leeds in the UK and moved to South Africa when he was 5. Paul joined the Jockey Academy alongside the likes of Harold Taylor, Stephen Jupp and Lawrence O’Donoghue and was kit boy to Muis Roberts.

“I had a good apprenticeship. One of the big highlights was being apprentice to Fred Rickaby, who was one of the best South Africa had ever seen. In those days it was all natural – there were no medicines or therapies or any of those things. He was a very good horseman and very professional and I learnt a lot from him. I rode a lot for Alistair Gordon and Johnny McCreedy and also did a stint for Terrance Millard and had some good winners for him including Taima Bluff, who won the Oaks and Derby in the same week. I was involved with some very good horses, I won the Smirnoff on Calvados, Scarlett Lady was one of the best I ever rode, there was Brer Rabbit, Sea Warrior, Extra Cover, Ace Of Spades, The Maltster, Mauritzfontein” he reels them off. “I rode Furious for Anne Upton – I had quite a bit of success for her – she was a very good trainer. There was Bold Comment, I won for in a row on Code Breaker. Jeez,” he laughs, “I haven’t thought of these horses for ages. There were so many, I’m bound to have missed someone out.”

“As I came out of my time, I bought a property and started one of the first spelling farms in KZN. In fact, one of the reasons I didn’t move to Cape Town to ride for Millard was that I’d committed to building stables and developing the property. When one looks back in hindsight…” he shrugs at the vagaries of racing luck.

Hanging up his boots

“I stopped riding my early 30’s and decided to take up training. I trained for about 5 years and had a very good horse called St Carlos who won 15 races. He was a very honest, good horse. Then we got a bad rhinopneumonitis virus which pretty much wiped out my stable. I figured I had a choice either to start all over again or go back to riding. I took off 14kgs and went back to riding. It’s hard to make a comeback, but I started off quite well and had a couple of winners. Then it sort of fizzled out. After that I did one or two little businesses, trying to find my feet and then I was offered a job at the Jockey Academy. I worked there for 10 years and became the senior riding master. I had some very good apprentices through my hands – Brandon and Gavin Lerena, Derreck David, Randall Simons, Sean Veale, S’manga Khumalo, Grant van Niekerk, Muzi Yeni, Marco van Rensburg, Aldo Domeyer, Karl Zechner – lots of good ones. Once again, I’m bound to have missed some names, so apologies to those I forgot. There were lots of good ones and it’s nice to look back now and see how they’ve progressed in their careers.”

“After a while I realised I needed a change and decided to go back to training, so about 7 years ago I did that. Here I’ve got to thank my wife Beth, she helped me build up the stable from scratch and is an integral part of the whole establishment. She is definitely the best horse in my stable.”

Paul and Beth run a 40-strong string at Ashburton and count Black Wing as one of their early successes. “He left me and went to Cape Town to Brett Crawford, then came back to KZN and then retired.” Other recent names include Candy Moon, Singing River and current stable stars Miss Varlicious (“she the lady of our stable”) and Fly Peg Fly. And now of course there’s Gunner.


Gimmethegreenlight - the hits keep coming!

Gimmethegreenlight – Any horse that can beat Variety Club twice fair and square must be an absolute champion (photo: hamishNIVENPhotography)

Paul says, “I’m normally a little bit hesitant when it comes to buying first season sires. I’d rather wait for a year or two and get some feedback, but in the case of Gimmethegreenlight it was different. I’ve always been a fan – any horse that can beat Variety Club twice fair and square must be an absolute champion. And then he had the looks and breeding to match, so I was in his camp already. I saw a few that were nice and missed a couple here and there and then we found Gunner at the 2015 CTS Premier Yearling Sale. He wasn’t very big, but he was just perfect. He reminded me a lot of Sea Warrior who I broke in on my spelling farm and later ended up riding for Vaughan Marshall. Anyway, he went for R200,000 so we snapped him up and I’ve managed to buy a few more since.”


Gunner was bred by Hassen Adams’ Nadeson Park Stud out of a three-time winning daughter of Captain Al, Play Nice. Adams retained a quarter share and kept him on the farm while Paul put the horse together. “Hassen offered to let him go back to the farm (which was Hemel & Aarde at the time) while I put him together. It took a little while and he was in Durban by the time we finalised everything. Shakthi Banwari and Keith & Melanie Carelse came in and then longstanding patron Morgan Pillay introduced me to Neshal and Anusha Lalla and they took the final 30%. This is their first horse, so I thought it would be a good horse to get them started as he was already in training by then and showing a bit of pace, so it looked like he would come early.”

Career so far

Gunner wins the Premiers Champion Stakes

Gunner wins the Premiers Champion Stakes

Gunner won on debut over 1000m at Scottsville on 10 April 2016. After a lacklustre second outing in the Godolphin Barb Stakes in May, he was gelded and then bounced back to form in a 1200m Juvenile Plate at Greyville on 17 June, finishing 2.5 lengths off Rivarine. On July day, from a 9 draw, he got caught wide, but managed to stay on very well for a 1.75-length third to Zodiac Ruler in the Golden Horseshoe and closed off the season with a 25-1 upset in the Gr1 Premier Champion Stakes on Super Sunday. Gunner stopped the clock in a time of 99.53, producing the first Gr1 winner for his sire Gimmethegreenlight (who topped the Freshman sire board last season) the first Gr1 plaudit for Nadeson Park Stud and a 5th Gr1 victory for Brandon Lerena, who stepped into the irons for S’manga Khumalo.

Paul says, “He’s a nice horse. He is a little spirited, but isn’t nasty in any way and he has a lovely honest look about him. He went through a stage just after he won his first start where he started to try and run away with everyone and we had to bring him back a bit. The day he ran unplaced, the going wasn’t too good and he’d run into traffic problems. We had to make a decision whether to geld him or not and the decision had to be made in a bit of a hurry. In the end we decided to go for it, which cost us a run in the Gold Medallion, but it was probably a blessing because he looks a bit more at home over 1400-1600m and I think that’s where we’ll keep him for now.”

Future plans?

“That’s an easy one. Our next mission will be the CTS Sales race at the end of January. I haven’t finalised his prep races yet, but in the meantime he’s having his AHS vacs and is due for his second vac in about a week, so we’ll just see how he takes those before we get too far ahead of ourselves.”

Has he been looking at any more Gimmethegreenlight progeny in the meantime? “I did select two on the National 2 Year Old Sale, but unfortunately I missed them both. There was a Trippi filly that I liked and she came up earlier in the catalogue, so we got that one and then I didn’t have a buyer for the second one. That’s how it goes.”


“I have been lucky to have had a lot of support from many different people over my career, but if I had to single someone out, it would be Robert Mauvis. My good horse, St Carlos raced in his colours and after I gave up training and went back to riding, I won the Frank Lambert on St Carlos, although we lost the race on objection. We’ve known each other for 30 odd years and he’s helped me get new names in my stable and supported me all the way through.”

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