The passing of thoroughbred racing colossus Sir Patrick Hogan draws a line under the life of one of Cambridge’s most celebrated sons.
The 83-year-old icon, whose successful Cambridge Stud found fame on a global scale, died in Waikato Hospital last Friday. His farewell service yesterday (January 11) was held at the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Hamilton, a choice made because Cambridge’s St Peter’s Catholic Church, with which Sir Patrick and his wife Justine, Lady Hogan, had a lengthy association, would have struggled to accommodate the numbers expected to attend.
St Peter’s Parish priest Father Leonard Danvers said Sir Patrick had taken his First Holy Communion there and was an early student at the adjacent St Peter’s Catholic School. It was at that church that he had been confirmed in 1950 and where he married Justine Heath in 1962.
The couple was said to have met at a Cambridge bus stop when they were both just 14. In later years they lived across the road from the church, becoming Cambridge locals in every sense of the word, admired as much for their warmth and quiet dignity as for their stellar reputation.
Sir Patrick’s influence as one of the world’s finest horse breeders came on the back of his intuitive knack for spotting potential and holding the line. Some of that ability may have derived from his Irish-born father Tom Hogan, who came to New Zealand in 1914 at the age of 19 with the aim of raising Clydesdale horses. Tom’s interest in horse breeding began in the mid-1950s and it was on the family’s mixed dairy farm in Fencourt that the young Patrick, who was born in Rotorua in late 1939, and his six siblings grew up.
An early departure from formal schooling from St Patrick’s College in Silverstream led him in 1975 to borrowing funds to purchase the block that would become Cambridge Stud. In the same year, he bought Sir Tristram, said to be a ‘brutish’ Irish stallion known as ‘Paddy’ and the horse deemed to have transformed Sir Patrick’s fortunes. Sir Tristram went on to sire a record number of winners before dying in 1997, his place as lead stallion then filled by his son Zabeel.
Widespread recognition came not only through the success of both of those famous sires and their offspring, but also through Sir Patrick’s three-decade role as top vendor at the Karaka yearling sales and his being named New Zealand Breeder of the Year several times.
His renown led him to an audience with Pope John Paul II, and in 1990 to squiring the late Queen Elizabeth II around Cambridge Stud on the back of an invitation extended over lunch on the Royal Yacht Britannia. In 1992, he was awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), for services to thoroughbred racing, and he was appointed a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (KNZM), for services to thoroughbred breeding and training in 2000.
His influence on the thoroughbred racing industry was unparalleled in New Zealand and Australia, and in 2005, Sir Patrick became the first horse breeder to be inducted into the Australia Racing Hall of Fame. Induction to the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame came the following year.
Recollections voiced since Sir Patrick’s passing remember him as a thrifty yet generous man, one who loved his horses and contributed significantly to charity.
Brendan and Jo Lindsay, who purchased Cambridge Stud from Sir Patrick in 2017 and have since established a Heritage Centre on the complex, said news of his death left ‘a great sense of sadness’.
Barry Lee, Sir Patrick’s longtime right-hand man and latterly his racing manager, took time out while inspecting yearlings on Monday to add his thoughts.
“Patrick died on January 6. It was on the same date 55 years ago, also January 6, that my wife and I moved to Cambridge,” he said. “I first met Patrick’s father at the National Hotel soon afterwards. He introduced me to Patrick and we’ve worked together ever since. I will miss him dreadfully.”