At Home with Tony Pike – Love Racing Series
Racing is in the blood for Tony Pike. His father was an owner trainer and as a young man, Tony rode trackwork for both his father and for the barn of Alan and Linda Jones. Now a hugely successful trainer in the sixteenth year of his career, and nicknamed “The Strike Rate King”, he is very well liked and respected in the industry. He is a charismatic big bear of a man, one who people describe as “the sort who’ll talk to anyone”. We confirmed this on a visit to Tony and his lovely wife Kirsten, at their beautiful Federation Australian style home in Cambridge.
From the minute we arrived, we felt extremely welcomed and comfortable, and not just by the affable hosts. The home itself has real ambience, a warm, rustic feel throughout which makes you want to curl up on their beautiful brown leather couch opposite the fireplace with a glass of red. They built their home just over two years ago, knowing specifically the style they were after and opting for Hinuera stone to lend a solid, natural feel to both the interior and exterior. It was really important to the couple that the house reflected a homely, country feel which blended with its surrounds of abundant green paddocks and a private arena for horse riding.
The property is actually split between two blocks of land, with the house on one, and Pike Racing stables on the other – sixteen acres in total. Tony jokingly noted that his commute to work took less time than it takes for most people to get their car out of the drive, a huge bonus with all his early starts.
The couple have two beautiful children, Molly, 12 and Oliver, 7. It’s clear that family comes first here, the home a haven where everyone’s best interest is looked after. Oliver is crazy on rugby, his room is swamped with All Blacks flags, decals and bedspreads. Molly has inherited the horse mad gene, and is avidly interested in ponies and going to shows, a love that is shared heavily with her mum. Completing the family is their gorgeous dog Bindi (named after Steve Irwin’s daughter), who Tony says is a vital part of the family. With her speckled chocolate coat and doe brown eyes, she certainly lends to the Pike’s hunting lodge chic.
When it comes to cooking, Tony says it’s a shared job. “I enjoy it when I’ve got the time but it’s often a bit rushed. I tend to be a make it up and chuck anything in type person”. If there’s nothing left in the fridge, then Chinese take-away is the family favourite.
With a team of 60 plus horses, Tony spends a lot of hours working. On the rare occasions he has no racing commitments, his first choice of things to do is head to the beach. He makes a point of turning his phone off during that time, to get away from everybody and everything. “It’s pretty much the only way you can get any peace and quiet”, he laughs with a wry grin. We grin too, because Tony looks like a man who’s pretty happy with his lot. In fact, we don’t think he’d have it any other way.
Written by Melanie Duval-Smith