Former rodeo champion and thoroughbred studmaster Norm Hawthorne has died at the age of 87.
The owner of Paramount Lodge, Hawthorne guided the successful careers of the stallions In The Purple and Diplomatic Agent.
Originally from Hawke’s Bay, Hawthorne moved north to Matamata in 1989 with Mellifont, Colombia, Hunza Court, Mughtanim, Spectacular Love and Imperial Seal among his resident sires.
However, it was In The Purple who was his most influential stallion with the French-bred producing a string of high-class stayers.
They included the Bart Cummings-trained Melbourne Cup winner Gold And Black, Caulfield Cup and AJC Oaks winner How Now, the Adelaide and Brisbane Cups winner Amarant and The Metropolitan Handicap winner Born To Be Queen.
Spectrum, Silver Elm, Cache, Serestrina, Sylvaner, Palace Gossip and Purple Crown were also leading representatives of In The Purple.
At the other end of the distance scale, Diplomatic Agent was most effective and sired the champion sprinter and two-time Telegraph Handicap winner Courier Bay, the Epsom Handicap winner Bold Diplomat and the George Adams Handicap winner Raywood Lass.
Hawthorne, who had charge of more than 50 stallions during his career, was also New Zealand all-round champion cowboy, bull dogging champion and was a saddle bronc rider.
He was a tough, no-nonsense character who began his working life as a shepherd and later as a farm manager in Wairoa before he ran shearing gangs in the Hawke’s Bay, which were subsequently taken over by his son, Victor.
Another son, Dean, came north with his father to assist in the stud operation before branching out as a bloodstock agent.
Respected for his horsemanship and pasture management, Hawthorne’s equine reproduction studies also contributed to his life membership of the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association.