Paul Bielby dedicates his latest win to Paul Harper  

By Duane Ranger 


The man who bred one of Australasia’s greatest standardbreds – Paul Bielby – is pleased he bought back into his Christian Cullen family in 2014 after having stepped back from the industry for various reasons 15 years earlier.

Christian Cullen’s breeder, Paul Bielby

“I was at the 2014 Yearling Sale in Christchurch and had the opportunity to buy back into the family, which was very pleasing, because it was a family I was very proud of. It was one I’d had a hand in initiating, and one I now wanted to carry on,” Bielby said. 

He said things changed for the worse in a few aspects of his life in the late 1990s, and in 1999 the Auckland born-and-educated businessman made the choice to relocate to Christchurch. 

“Now nearly a quarter of a century later I feel it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made – up there with crossing Pleasant Franco with In The Pocket in 1994,” joked Paul Bielby, who bred Christian Cullen to win 22 of his 31 starts, including multiple Group One events, and $1.3 million in purses. 

After buying Pleasant Franco in foal with Kate’s First (19 wins and ($624,023), and then breeding Christian Cullen, the last foal that Bielby bred from Pleasant Franco was Oscar De Le Hoya (seven wins and $27,182). 

 That was 1998. Now fast forward 25 years and Pleasant Franco’s grandson – the 3-year-old Art Major – Real Courage (Real Desire) gelding, Carrera Rapido, has notched up his second win in 11 starts. 

This happened in race 10 at Addington Raceway Friday13 October when the Mark and Nathan Purdon trained $2.20 favourite triumphed with a 1:57.4-mile rate. Blair Orange did the driving for owners P J and J L Van Beek. 

“Even though I no longer own Carrera Rapido, the win was still quite sentimental to me, because I bred him with a long-time friend named Paul Harper. Sadly, Paul passed away last September. He was a bit older than me, and was a mate from our early workdays in Auckland. 

“He had raced some good gallopers over the years including multiple Winter cup Winner Rongonui, however he had a limited involvement in harness racing – just a couple of fillies that we raced and bred from, including Real Courage. All four foals that Real Courage has left us are special because of Paul. Carrera Rapido is the mare’s second foal, and first winner,” Bielby said. 


He said with the advice of Kate First’s former trainer Doug Gale’s, he couldn’t resist the now 10-year-old Real Courage (Real Desire – Courage Aplenty – Courage Under Fire mare) at the 2014 Yearling Sale in Christchurch. 

“She was a grand-daughter of Pleasant Franco, and I never ever thought the family would just die out. The maternal lines kick in for generations, and Paul and I were hopeful this mare would kick a few goals as a broodmare after she won three of her 13 starts as a racehorse. 

“Her breeding career looks promising. We are hopeful Carrera Rapido’s two wins will help his full brother at next year’s Yearling Sale. Rapido’s not up there with the ‘Don’t Stop Dreamings’ yet. He’s relatively inexperienced, but he’s getting there. Mark and Nathan have turned the corner with him and had him cut after his 2yo season which I think has sorted out a few of his issues. 

“The full-brother named Carrera Benicio (Art Major) looks stunning,” Bielby said. 

But Bielby isn’t one to give his progeny away. Carrera Rapido was passed in at $40,000, and for the same price so was Real Courage’s, Captain Crunch yearling named Carrera Hombre at this year’s Christchurch Sale. 

“We sold Carrera Rapido a day after the 2021 Christchurch Yearling Sale. He was passed in for $40,000, and I spoke with Mark (Purdon) and he kindly agreed to buy him a day after the Sale on behalf of his clients. 

“Sadly, Real Courage’s first foal, a 2017 American Ideal colt named Chevrons First, died of colic. Doug Gale bought her for a stable client. Real Courage has left four colts now and I’m hopeful that her Art Major foal due to be born in December is a filly. The mare is only 10 and I want to carry on the family line,” Bielby said. 

“Because of the late foal this year, I’m going to give her a year off this breeding season,” the 57-year-old added. 

The former Orewa College student, said his life had taken many ups and downs since the mid-1960s, but he says he never regrets replying to a Harness Racing Weekly advertisement back in 1992. 

“I saw that Pleasant Franco had won three races and was in foal to Holmes Hanover, producing Kate’s First, who went on to win the 1997 Auckland Cup. I actually named her after my daughter. Christian Cullen came a year later. He was originally named ‘Steen James’ after my son,” Bielby said. 

“Now 30 years later it’s a privilege to be back breeding from Pleasant Franco’s family again. I’ve never believed that good families just die out. This mare is one of the best I’ve bred from in recent years,” he added. 

So where did the name ‘Carrera’ come from? 

“I had a Porsche Carrera for a while, and I like using one name for the yearlings I breed to sell,” said Bielby, who is the director of Auto Loan Company – a company specialising in vehicle finance.