Mark Noonan – the Best Man to Run a Syndicate

By Duane Ranger

Mark Noonan spends his days planning Christchurch’s $683 million, 30,000 seat indoor stadium and other $10 million-plus projects like the $317 million Parakiore Recreation and Sport Centre.

Then at nights the Christchurch born-and-educated Quantity Surveyor, and Project Manager, for the Christchurch City Council, spends his time overseeing several harness racing syndicates.

Mark Noonan

“I love my council job. It is high stakes, and exciting, and that’s exactly what harness racing is – exciting. I enjoy managing harness racing Syndicates just as much as my day job. I give them the same attention and detail as what I would at work.

“I’ve loved harness racing for as long as I can remember. I’m not married and don’t have any kids – just precious nephews and nieces and their children – so I like to spend a lot of my spare time overseeing the Syndicates and enticing people into ownership and breeding,” Belfast-based Noonan said.

“There’s nothing like celebrating a winner. It’s priceless. We are on 99 now,” added Noonan, who was suffering from his second bout of Covid.

By that he meant the Griffins Syndicates which, now sits on 99 wins to date after Love Is Everywhere won the second race at the Manawatu Harness Racing Club’s meeting on Wednesday, March 29th – the Cartown Up To R40 Trot.

The Michael House trained, and Peter Ferguson driven Love Is Everywhere, who has now won three of her 31 starts and placed in seven others ($32,201), is owned by Griffins No.3 Syndicate, Griffins Syndicate, and Mentally Stable Limited.

The 5-year-old Windsong – Bet Pray Love (Sundon) mare was bred by the Noonan as part of the BPL Syndicate.

“Bet Pray Love was out of Neil Bennett and Michael House’s Holdonmyheart mare, Love Hate Revenge. We leased Bet Pray Love off Neil and Michael and raced her. She only won two races, and both were quite notable.

“Her first win was at Manawatu as well (October 2015), which was Dexter Dunn’s first win on the track, and then her other claim to fame was beating our other great ‘Griffin Syndicate’ horse Dark Horse (Bacardi Lindy – Juliana – Sundon) at Forbury Park (March 2016). That was a brilliant Dexter drive that got her home that night after Dark Horse copped traffic problems,” Noonan said.

The Syndicate retired Bet Pray Love in February 2017 and then bred just one foal from her before their lease ran out.

“We put her to Windsong Espoir and on November 15, 2017, Love Is Everywhere was born. She’s five now and had two-and-a-bit seasons of racing, so I think she’s got a win or two left in her yet before she hits the broodmare’s paddock,” Noonan said.

Majestic Man and the Griffins Syndicate connections following the Dullard Cup win at Melton
(c) Harness Racing Victoria

Bet Pray Love has since left two more What The Hill fillies aged two and one, and a Speeding Spur weanling colt. The mare is currently in foal to Speeding Spur. Woodlands Stud took over the breeding from the BPL Syndicate.

Noonan said prolific Mid Canterbury breeders – the Grice brothers, Bevan and the late Keith their breed, played a big part in establishing, and now the success enjoyed by the Noonan-run Syndicates like the Griffins, 1,2,3 Syndicates, as well as BPL and the Seafield Syndicate.

“Neil Bennett actually started the Syndicates via the Grice brothers. The original Syndicate horse was the Grice bred Mellow Puff (2016 Monarchy gelding), who was out of their Sundon mare, Melting Moments. Both never made it to the races, but that’s where we got the Griffins name from.

“I took over the reins from Neil in 2015 after having earlier been involved in the ownership. It’s something I really enjoy. It’s more than a hobby. It’s a passion. Breeding a winner was a bonus. Hopefully Love Is Everywhere will be able to provide us all with more winners,” said Noonan who added the Griffins Syndicate comprised 40 shares, but many more owners.

Victorious Majestic Man connections following his Dullard Cup win

The Griffin Syndicate’s 99 winners have largely stemmed from Grice-bred standardbreds. They are (with wins): Majestic Man (2014 Majestic Son – Love Hate Revenge gelding) 24, Monty Python (2009  Pegasus Spur – Juliana gelding), 15, Dark Horse 14 (Bacardi Lindy – Juliana – Sundon mare), Sol Invictus 7, Sarah Palin 6, Our Pinocchio 5, Hidden Talent 4, Love Is Everywhere and Rugged Cross 3 each, plus six other horses who won two races each and six more who won one race.

“We have had a lot of success all over New Zealand and Australia. Majestic Man is easily the best horse we have bred and owned. Followed by my old favourite Dark Horse.

“We have had a close association with all the Williamson family over the years. They have been very professional and the best possible trainers to work with. They are all honest as the day is long,” St Bede’s educated Noonan said.

“We didn’t get to see Majestic Man’s three Group One wins in 2021 in Australia, because of Covid, but some of the owners including my sister, Wendy Rennie, went and watched him win the  Dullard Cup this year,” he added.

Footnote: As for the two multi-million-dollar projects scheduled for Christchurch. Parakiore is expected to open in early 2025, and the new stadium in April 2026.