We all know the grass can look greener on the other side of the fence especially when it comes to town versus country living. Those caught up in the urban rat race may long to escape to the country while rural residents seeking the excitement of city lights may eye up the big smoke!
But HELEN PERRY spoke to a well-known couple enjoying the best of both worlds.
Green fields and oceans blue, John and Lynne Street have both – a Bucklands Beach home with views of the sea and just a ferry ride from the city plus a pristine Franklin country estate where horses graze in tree-lined paddocks.
Throw in a Sanctuary Cove pad on Australia’s Gold Coast and, really, life if pretty good!
But while it’s easy enough to travel between Auckland’s east and south, hopping the ditch takes a lot more planning for this busy couple who are officially ‘retired’ but working as hard as ever.
Owners of Lincolns Farms Bloodstock, renowned in racing circles for its quality standardbreds and thoroughbreds, the Streets have poured time and energy into bringing their 56 acre Pukekohe property up to scratch after purchasing it three years ago.
John Street’s personal story (including initiating special racing ‘partnerships which have been applauded by the industry), and his long time business partnership with the late Graeme Blackburn, follows a fascinating trail which would take a book to document.
But, in a nutshell….. his former stables were based in Huapai during the years John also owned and operated Pak’nSave in Lincoln Rd, Henderson. However, when Auckland and Franklin Trotting Clubs merged and the trotting track at Pukekohe – Franklin Park – was set to undergo redevelopment with new training facilities for harness racing, John saw fresh opportunities.
A firm believer in the new facility he says, the opportunity to live virtually on top of the track was too good to resist.
“We bought this property which was extremely run down having been virtually unused for 20 years,” he says.
“It’s taken a lot of hard slog to get it back up to scratch but now we have about 40 standard bred horses stabled here while our thoroughbreds [40 or so] are all in Palmerston North at top trainer, Lisa Latta’s stables.”
“Really, the shift has worked out better than expected; from here we can train 40 horses in three hours; it used to take eight. There’s no more trucking across town; now we just walk them down to the track.”
And, all this has augured well for John and Lynne who continue to have the Midas touch when it comes to buying, racing and selling.
Skimming over its many triumphs, in all Lincoln Farms has won more than 540 races across both codes and enjoyed success both here and in Singapore where the Streets keep 10 horses trained by Bruce Marsh and Shane Bertschlinger.
“Lincoln Road has won five of his 14 races up there with takings of about $350,000.00,” John says. “That’s pretty good. Here, Savabeel colt, Lincoln Blue, is presently a contender for the New Zealand Derby while another one of ours, Fort Lincoln won the Karaka Million in 2011. There’s not many of the major races we haven’t won except the Melbourne Cup; one day perhaps!”
On the harness racing front, the Streets standard bred stallion, Sir Lincoln has sired nearly 300 foals over the past three seasons; many extremely promising. The couple also own two three-year-olds, Alta Intrigue and Vasari, which they have high hopes for – John says trainer, Ray Green does a sterling job.
Although he’s been into racing for years and loves the whole buzz of buying, racing and selling – “we got rid of the broodmares; too much trouble” – John adds he’s not a trainer, he’s never even tried sitting in a sulky. What’s more, he and Lynne aren’t punters either.
“We take only the very occasional bet and leave the care of horses and the running of our operation to the experts. I keep the farm up to scratch and enjoy it; working outdoors is a far cry from employing 400 staff in New Zealand’s largest supermarket!”
And while bloodstock owner takes to the outdoors, Lynne says she just enjoys having her choice of lush rural surrounds or being closer to the water and hubbub of urban shopping.
“John and I grew up across the road from each other; our parents were great friends.
We started going out together in our late teens and married when I was just 21.
“Though I trained as a hairdresser, when we embarked on our supermarket journey, I was soon entrenched too. Our first shop was a Four Square and from there we went on to own several stores including the New World at Browns Bay before opening the Lincoln Rd Pak’nSave.
“Since officially retiring I usually spend weekends at the farm and we are back in the city during the week. “I now have the time to catch up with friends and just kick back for a bit while John enjoys his golf and bowls..
“It’s only a few months since our new home was built on the Pukekohe land so furnishing that has kept me on the go – it’s just lovely to come out here now and enjoy the property to its full extent,” Lynne adds.
“We really are very fortunate to have homes in two beautiful parts of Auckland and be able to pursue our lifelong interest in horse racing. Life is never dull, that’s for sure.”