Peter Shanks fiery first winner lucky to be alive 

By Duane Ranger 


When Peter Shanks was waist-deep in the cold waters of Huki Creek at about 6.30 on the morning of November 5, 2019, little did he realise back then that the foal he was dragging out of the creek was going to be his first breeding success.  

The fourth-generation Owaka sheep farmer had saved Huki Fella’s life before it had barely started.

Peter and Robyn Shanks

And now almost four years later, the now ungrateful, and often nasty 3-year-old – who even fights with his mother if given the chance – won his first race in five starts at the Wyndham Harness Racing Club’s on 7th September. 

Huki Fella is a black Lord Forbes – Deceitndesire (Bettor’s Delight) gelding, who is trained by his driver Craig Ferguson on the track. He’s now won and placed in both of his starts this season for his breeders, the Bush Boys. They also own the gelding with Gavin Forbes and his partner Voreena More. 

Bush Boys Syndicate Manager, Shanks, a former greyhound trainer, said the Bush Boys comprised two of his eight siblings, Charles, Lex and a nephew Trevor. His sister-in-law Kathryn Elliott and her partner Craig Lawrence encouraged us to buy Deceitndesire. 

“Ian Wilson bred Deceitndesire (11-year-old Bettor’s Delight – Iza Comin – Miles McCool two-win mare). The Macca Slaccas Syndicate owned her and when she finished racing in August 2017, and then missed to Terror To Love for her previous owners, Craig asked if I wanted to breed from her. He always knew I wanted to breed a standardbred,” 67-year-old Shanks said. 

He said Deceitndesire was the last of four foals out of the Ian Wilson-bred Iza Comin (unraced 1999 brown Miles McCool – Harmonic – New York Motoring mare). 

“We put her to Lord Forbes in late 2018 and the following year, Huki Fella, was born. I went to Gavin’s sire at Oreti Beach, not only because he’s my brother-in-law, but also because he was a very economical stallion. 

“I liked Lord Forbes when he raced, and I also think he’s an underrated sire. The mare is back in foal to him again and is due to foal to him anytime soon. I think now that ‘Huki’ has won and is really starting to prove himself, I may go to say Captain Crunch or Fear The Dragon next time,” Shanks.  

“That was my first foal – born in the water. What a way to bring a horse into the world,” he added. 

Shanks said Forbes broke in and then trained Huki Fella for his first three starts as a 2-year-old before handing him over to Ferguson this season. 

“I think Gavin realised how good he was and sent him onto Craig to get the best out of him. Gavin could have kept him. but he’s had a few injuries, to get over and thought he was doing best by the horse.” 

Shanks admits his first foray into standardbred breeding has been a colourful one. 

“I actually didn’t think he would be this good, especially after the start he had, combined with his bad attitude. I’m looking forward to seeing how his full brother or sister develops. Hopefully this time it will be a dry-land birth,” said Shanks who is a fourth-generation sheep farmer on 400 hectares at Owaka. 

“Even though we are sheep farmers I grew up loving horses. My father (Sandy), was always at the races when he could get there. He loved animals. 

“That’s where I got it from,” said Shanks, who has been married to Robyn for 42 years. He was educated at James Hargest College.