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A life less ordinary - Gary Lawson

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - JANUARY 11: Gary Lawson, skip of his team punches the air after winning an end during the National Bowling Championships Mens Fours final at the Burnside Greens, Christchurch, New Zealand, Sunday Jan 11, 2004. (Photo by Ross Setford/Getty Images)

It’s been almost a decade since legendary lawn bowler Gary Lawson has represented New Zealand in the sport that he dominates so effortlessly. Now, having been picked for the squad once more, Lawson has his eyes on the prize; the 2020 World Championships on the Gold Coast. No stranger to cleaning up on the domestic circuit, he has 13 national titles under his belt, but these aren’t the only things he collects.

An avid collector of all things sports, Lawson has built up quite the collection of memorabilia. So much so, Gary, along with two close friends, purchased a Riccarton-based pub called The Horse and Jockey just to showcase this most enviable collection.

When Lawson’s not busy dominating on the lawn, you’ll find him in the pub keeping a close eye on his prized possessions while watching all of the current racing action. With shares in several race horses, including five-year old bay mare Where Are You, trained by Shaune Ritchie, you can guarantee that his collection of racing memorabilia is only set to grow. Time to invest in a second pub, perhaps?

So, if you’re ready for the long, impressive list of Gary’s collection, I’ll begin.

Even if you’re not well versed on the horse racing industry, you’ll likely remember hearing the name Michelle Payne. Yes, the first female jockey to ever win the Melbourne Cup when she rode Prince of Penzance to victory in 2015. Over the span of her career, of which she’s had 756 wins and counting, Payne has amassed $27,255,623 of prize money. So, while the female jockey is hardly strapped for cash, it’s not often you’ll find a set of her silks up for grabs. The film Ride Like A Girl, based on Payne’s historic Melbourne Cup win, is also set to be released this year, predicting that those already reputable silks will become more fought after still.

Lawson’s link to the Melbourne Cup doesn’t stop with Payne. Gary is also the proud owner of signed Jim Cassidy colours from 1983, when the loveable rogue of a jockey won the Melbourne Cup riding a horse named Kiwi.

A Dexter Dunn whip is proudly displayed at their pub-cum-sporting-museum. The young harness racer is one of few to build up an exhilarating 2000 career wins.

Lawson also possesses racing silks and whips from further notable jockeys including James McDonald, Mark Jones and Joao Moreira. As you can imagine, the walls are filling up rather nicely.

Then, of course, there’s the rugby section. Amongst the prized goods is a World Cup rugby jersey signed by the beloved Richie McCaw and Steve Hansen, for neither of which we need to provide a background. Former All Black Christian Cullen’s career jersey also sits close by.

Lawson’s modern Merivale home is where you’ll find one of his most prized possessions from his sporting collection – a tennis ball signed by the winner of 17 Grand Slam singles titles and arguably one of the most famous tennis players in history, Rafael Nadal. This is one tennis ball that he won’t be throwing for a playful dog anytime soon. Lawson also managed to get his hands on a vinyl record and microphone that once belonged to Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, but we’d better save his music related collectibles for another time.

Having just been called up to represent the country in bowls once more, we’re sure that one day his own bowls will land themselves in the hands of another passionate collector of all things sporting.

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