Luk Chin and his back story

What a marvel Dr Luk Chin is (and one hell of a nice ole fella to boot).

Now in his 80’s, the Tamahere (on the outskirts of Hamilton) trainer notched up 2 more winners at the recent Cambridge meeting (ANZAC Day), both horses being closely related but at different stages of their racing careers.

Dr Luk Chin

Jasinova (6m Love You – Jasinsky) now has 16 wins on the board as she closes in on $200k in prizemoney.

Barsukov (4g Love You – Barsukova), in the hands of recent recruit and Jnr driver from WA, Australia, Emily Johnson, was securing his first win after 14 previous attempts.

This takes Chin’s overall training record to 177 wins (166 trotting) with a further 443 top 3 placings for a return in stakes just north of $2M.

Between 1980 and 1994 he trained for himself, by himself, but had others driving for him on race day.

“I was in my 50s by then and I was doing all the work but letting others have all the fun so I decided to get my drivers licence,” Chin explained.

After a 41 year stint at Waikato Hospital, Chin is now ‘retired’ (well, as retired as he could be) but spends his days helping out at the local Health Hubs within the Auckland/Waikato areas.

One can trace Luk Chin and his family involvement in harness racing right back to the 1950s where a very healthy relationship was cemented between his father CB Foon and legendary Templeton trainer Derek Jones.

Success came early for the Jones/Chin ‘partnership’ in the form of Dismiss (Light Brigade – Rendezvous) who won 5 races from 43 starts for the princely sum of $3380. As a broodmare, she had just the 3 foals.

Disband (by U Scott) won 14 races and was placed in an Inter-Dominion pacing final when held for the one and only time at Forbury Park in 1965.

Dr Luk Chin accepting the joint Courtesy Ford Lifetime Legacy Award Winners

This race was famous for producing the only ever dead heat in a final where Robin Dundee and Jay Ar could not be separated.

Dispense, a full sister, won 8 trotting and is the ‘grand matriarch’ of all of Luk Chins current ‘breed’. More about her daughters shortly.

Disturb (by Johnny Globe) won 3 pacing but did not breed on when given her chance. All 3 were trained by Derek Jones.

When his father decided to reduce his involvement with the breed, it was decided that brother Onn would take on the pacing side of the family and Luk would inherit the trotting family with Dispense his foundation mare.

Brother Onn has had his share of success with the pacers too with Tartan Lady (14 wins), Imperial Time (9 wins), Ice Wise (7 wins) and Imperiora (10 wins) just a few to have his name ‘in lights’, when trained by Jones or Ray Faithful (father of Chelsea)

Notably, in the mid 50’s, a full sister to Dismiss in Light Heart gave local Hornby identity Jimmy Bond (NZ Kiwi league player), also a good client of Jones, a strong launching pad for his own horse breeding operation and another full sister in Suyin established the commercial ‘Seafield’ breed for the Grant family of South Canterbury.

Dispense went to stud and left 9 foals for 5 winners with another two racing but not winning. She had 6 fillies.

Beat The Gun (6 wins) to Game Pride left Dispride who left seven winners including Lovina (by Plat du Jour), 5 wins, and who is the grand dam of Cambridge winner Barsukov.

She is also the 3rd dam of Jasinova, Chin’s other Cambridge winner.

Spassky, Alexikov and Illin, all sons of Dispride, won seven races each for Chin over 20 years ago.

Another daughter of Dispense in Madam Faye (by Bachelor Hanover), unraced, left Faye’s Jewel (by Lumber Dream). The latter placed in a short racing career before going to stud and leaving arguably Chin’s best horse in Fayanni (10 wins + $215k). Fayanni has continued the family record by leaving Safrakova (14 wins) and Alana (9 wins) from just 4 opportunities at stud. Chin has recently retired Alana and she is in foal to Marcoola.

Tereskova (Monarchy – Barsukova) and Gorbachev (Plat du Jour – Disarmbro) both won 9 races for the Chin training establishment.

Remarkedbly, Chin has never bought a horse.

“Everything I own and race I have bred myself”, he proudly shared.

A Luk Chin quinella

He currently has 4 mares in the broodmare paddock and is expecting foals by King Of The North and Marcoola in the coming season and admits to having a soft spot for the stock of Orlando Vici.

Current Australasian superstar Just Believe is of course by that sire.

So what is with the Russian names of his horses?

“A long time ago I had 3 names rejected by HRNZ when I was trying to name a weanling and I was a bit ‘stumped’ as to what to do. Just at that moment a news flash came over the TV about the Chernobyl disaster in Russia and I sent through the name Chernobyl (Game Pride – Beat The Gun) and it was accepted. And he did ok on the track winning 7 races.

I did spend 6 years in the UK when I was younger and travelled extensively through the Eastern European countries so the theme has stuck with me over the years.”

With his health in good shape, Luk Chin is keen to keep going, contributing in his own way to a hobby that has given him so many great memories.

200 trained winners has a nice ring to it.