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She probably didn’t get the national recognition she deserved but Southland mare Leyava certainly did a great job as a broodmare for the Sellars family of Myross Bush. There are plenty of horse tales about where horses have come from and how luck was involved – right place right time. This is the story of Leyava and begins in the early 1940’s at Seaward Downs just east of Invercargill. “They had a rabbit board that came around fumigating rabbits. It was a unit drawn by a horse. My father (Jack Sellars) asked the rabbiters what the horse was. They told him it was a good racehorse named Fortune’s Favourite. And that Davie Todd trained it. He rang Davie, who said yes he did train it, that it was no bloody good but it was a good family. So Dad ended up paying 25 pounds for her,” said Andrew Sellars. Once in the paddock the family who were relative newcomers to the breeding of Standardbreds, had lengthy discussions about which stallion to choose before deciding to send her to Indianapolis, three times New Zealand Cup winner. From that mating Pollyapolis arrived in 1946. “An old friend of the family Jack Winter trained her initially before she went to Wes Butt. She won six races.” Once Pollyapolis’s racing days were over Jack Sellers started breeding from her and she left a number a nice horses including Trigside (Flying Song) which won a Gore Cup (1963), and Va Vite which won ten races. By that time Jack Sellars had also bought from George Youngson, Rustic Maid. She became the dam of twelve winners including 1950 New Zealand Cup winner Chamfer, and 1946 New Zealand Derby winner Free Flight. “Dad was keen to breed a filly at the end of her career. He said to me that he wasn’t going to breed off two horses and asked if I wanted to take Polly (Pollyapolis) saying I could get a foal from her. I thought that was pretty good. Initially I was going to go to U Scott but I was advised because he was in such demand that if I missed out on getting in foal you didn’t get any refund. I thought I can’t afford that. Clem Scott advised me to go to Garrison Hanover. From that we got Leyava.” A racing partnership between father and son was formed and Jack and Andrew Sellars began racing the mare. “She had ability, but had a poor attitude to racing. Dave Kerr trained her and she won two races and had numerous placings. After she finished racing I took her over on my own for breeding.”       The name Leyava is a combination of Andrew’s wife Shirley and daughter Avalon’s names. “We nearly lost her before we got her in foal the first time. She was on the property here and my neighbour had stored some bags of wheat. She pushed the door open and got an oversupply of wheat into her system. She was very close to dying. The neighbour rang Cliff Irvine in Christchurch and asked him what we should do. He said get her into a good muddy watery area and let her stand in there for a couple of days and she came right. We don’t know why it worked but you never questioned Cliff Irvine.” Her first foal was Sassenach by Young Charles. “I trained him as a two year with the help of Henry Skinner. Maurice Skinner had him for a few weeks just to get him used to company. I took him to a few trials and then sent him up to Jim Winter to train on a training arrangement.” He soon showed Winter that he had ability as a three year old and had his first start on Cup Day in the Riccarton Stakes, finishing third when driven by Doug Watts. He won four races at that age including the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Clubs Three Year Old Championship. “All the best three year olds in the South Island were in that race. He lost seventy yards at the start and won by three lengths in a New Zealand record time for three year olds. It was an outstanding performance.” Bob Young at that point had taken over the driving. “He was a very astute man. A real old Scotsman. We weren’t punters but after the Riccarton Stakes we had two or three hundred pounds in stakes money. He was in the Cross Stakes at New Year. I said to Jim that we should just put that stake money on him because he should win that race. We put it on but he broke up badly and he just made up a few places. Jim who was not used to big punting was a bit upset at my suggestion. He mentioned it to Bob who said God if I’d known that I would have tried a bit harder. He thought he could have still won but was just saving the horse.”   The following year as a four year old he won six races and started in the 1971 Interdominions Series at Addington. “He was only a four year old. He won his first two heats and ran second in his third heat. He was the second highest qualifier for the final behind Holy Hal another Southlander.” The final was won by Junior’s Image who was later disqualified after returning a positive swab. The promoted winner was Stella Frost. As a five year old, Sassenach returned to racing at Ashburton in October before progressing to the Cup meeting in Christchurch raced then over four days. “He was throwing his head around a lot and Bob Young couldn’t steer him. One vet suggested that it could have something to do with the seed out of the grass. Jim threw a nose guard on him on the third night and he duly won and was roundly booed because he’s been pretty well backed on the first two days.” He came out on the last night of what was a four day cup carnival and won the Ollivier Handicap against the Cup horses. He then travelled north for the Auckland Cup and ran fifth on a wet track showing signs of soreness. “He was sent home to me and I pottered around with him and treated his legs. I took him to Riverton on the old grass track and won the Riverton Cup with him. Apart from Riverton, which was an equalisator meeting, I couldn’t quite get a win with him.” Then export agent Bob McArdle approached Sellars and he was sold to Canada in June 1976. Sassenach winning as a three year old at Addington His New Zealand race record was 78 starts for 12 wins and 6 seconds and 6 thirds. Leyava’s second foal Ryal which was by Canny Scot was also racing and winning races at this stage. Jim Dynes had bought him as a weanling. He was also fashioning a good racing record and ended up winning 8 races including the New Zealand Autumn Stakes and Canterbury Free For All in 1973. He raced against what was a vintage group of open class pacers like Robalan, Speedy Guest, Young Quinn, Hi Foyle and Arapaho. “He went to America and won forty odd races over there.” Shavande was Leyava’s next foal. He was by Hundred Proof and was trained by Andrew from his property on Roslyn Road just out of Invercargill. “He was as good as any of the horses she’d left. He had a very bad attack of strangles. Peter Williams (Vet) did a hell of a good job to save him.” After being nursed back from this major setback he won a double at Wyndham. “He also won a Gore Cup and he was sold to America. Doug McNaught thought he was an outstanding horse. He was on his way to cup class no doubt about that.” The next foal from the mare was Hi Lo’s Forbes colt Stylist. “He had some ability but was bad in his gait when tried at high speed. Jim Dynes took him over to try and straighten him out. They won a race with him and one for me.” Lumber Dream was the next port of call for Leyava and that mating produced another colt named Profiteer. “The most intelligent horse I ever had. He was cunning with brilliant speed.” He was trained initially by Sellars and recorded his first win at Wyndham in November 1977 winning by three lengths, running the 2400 metres in 3-08. “Peter Wolfenden phoned me wanting to buy him but I said he was too good to be selling.” A year later although still racing well, Profiteer was starting to win the battle of the wills in the south so he was sent to Gavin Hampton in Canterbury to train. “He was sent up prior to the Reefton Cup which was the richest C2 race in the country at that time. He won that race and came back and won two races at Addington. Then Lucky (Profiteer) worked Gavin out so he came back down here.” At that point Sellars had to reinvent the horse’s training and racing regime.         “I knew the whip and Profiteer didn’t go together so I got wee Austin Stack to drive him. He was a quiet wee driver. He got placing after placing with him but never won. He was running off long marks and doing not too bad so I whipped him up to Addington and I won with him. I got Paul Hampton (Gavin’s son) to drive him because I thought the horse would know Gavin. I’ve never yelled so loud for a horse.” Profiteer finished his career in March 1982 and commenced a short career in the stallion barn. He sired 35 live foals and left three winners - Auburn Profit (6 wins), He’s A Gun (5 wins) and The Developer (2 wins). “He was never going to get a lot of mares because he was a cheat, but a very fast one.” Socialite (Armbro Del) was the mare’s next foal. She was unraced. Zabadak (Nevele Bigshot) was the next off the Leyava production line. He initially won five races for Henry Skinner including an impressive double at Wyndham in March 1981 culminating in the 3200 metre Wyndham Cup. “Peter Davis drove him. Henry drove him to win on the first day but he decided to drive another horse in the stable (Eden’s Joy off 40 metres 6th). Peter took him straight to the front and donkey licked them (4 ½ lengths in 4-11.0 over 3200 metres on slushy track). At the time it was a Southland record.” At the end of that season Skinner decided he wasn’t going to carry on training. “Allan Devery phoned me and said would I consider sending Zabadak there as he was getting a bit more serious about training professionally. I said yes as long as he took another horse called Stampede. Henry had qualified Stampede. Allan wasn’t very sure about it so he rang Brendon Fahy, a good friend of mine. Brendon told him that if Zabadak won four races for him next season Stampede would win seven so Allan took him.” It was the beginning of a very fruitful relationship between Sellars and Devery. “Allan was an outstanding conditioner and trainer and he won the next seven races with him (Zabadak). He won all eleven races with Stampede.” One race that remains in Sellars memory was the day Zabadak won at the Canterbury Park Trotting Club meeting in January 1983. “He tried to kick Gavin (Hampton) out at the start. It was a mile race. He’d decided that they weren’t going fast enough in the lead up and he started bucking and kicking. He was kicking himself right out the back by five and six lengths. He settled down and caught the field and Gavin, who could be pretty severe when he wanted, decided to send him around the field at the half. He beat the likes of Hands Down. That’s the sort of horse he was. On his day he could beat anything.” His most important win was in the Firestone Cavillino Stakes on Cup Day 1983. He won eleven races from 64 starts banking $53,325 in stakes. At that point Zabadak’s younger brother Stampede had also finished his racing career. He also won eleven races including the Interdominion Consolation, and he finished second in the Kaikoura Cup and third in an Easter Cup. Sellars was keen to give him a shot as a stallion. “I was keen for him to have that chance. He was a beautiful horse with a lovely nature. He had arthritic knees which restricted him a little bit as a racehorse.” He notched up a moderate record as a sire, helped by two quality horses in Defoe and Stands To Reason. “At the height of his career he (Stampede) had 194 mares. It was the season when Defoe had won the Lion Red Mile and was dead unlucky not to win the Messenger. And Brendon Fahy’s horse Stands To Reason won the $150,000 Sires Stakes Final in Auckland (1990).” Post Stampede Leyava had just two more foals, both fillies Saligna (Lumber Dream) and Sakina (Son Of Afella) and that’s when a breeding arrangement with Brian West began. “We had a few mares. Brian suggested that he would take them all up there, look after the stud side of it and prepare the progeny for sale. It never worked out that great. I can’t blame Brian as he used good sires. It was one of these breeds that seem to mix better with sires like Nevele Bigshot, Hundred Proof and Canny Scott.” The horse market back in the mid 80’s was relatively buoyant and in February 1986 Sellers was offered big money for the unraced Saligna and Sapele. “Sapele was trained by the Lees. She was about to go to the trials when I was approached by Paul Davies on behalf of John Curtin to see whether he could buy these two Lumber Dream mares. I said no because I didn’t want to let two Lumber Dream mares go out of this breed. Anyway I put a price on them $100,000 for Saligna (Lumber Dream –Leyava) and $60,000 for Sapele (Lumber Dream – Socialite). He bought the $100,000 one. I sent the other one (Sapele) to stud and she died.” From eleven named foals Leyava left seven winners of fifty five New Zealand races.  A grand record for a mare that was bred from a mare bought from the Rabbit Board. Although the breed has faded somewhat, like many of the old pedigrees in this country there are still a number of mares that trace back to Leyava being breed from. Brian West is breeding from a Mach Three mare named Titled who is a great granddaughter of Leyava. She has a qualified two year old called His Royal Harness who is trained by Chris McDowell and a Stunin Cullen yearling filly. West is also breeding from two other granddaughters of Socialite in Flashbang (McArdle- Susan Who) and Famous Lover (Dream Ahead – Susan Who).   Well that’s the Leyava story, and it’s really only half the tale because of course foundation mare Pollyapolis’s other filly Va Vite (by Young Bob) has also plenty of upside to her stud career. She left Largs (Lordship) the dam of Glen Moria (10 wins) and handy performers Calton Hill (Smooth Hanover) 5 wins, and his full sister Churnside also 5 wins. But ………….. another story for another day perhaps.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Hall-of-Fame horseman Barry Purdon isn’t afraid to label Start Dreaming as the best mare he has trained. He’s also not afraid to put his hand up to drive the gifted 5-year-old this season. “She’s the best pacer in our (25-strong) stable and would have to be the best mare I’ve had. I’ll probably drive her in the Spring Cup (September 30) and then we will plan it from there. Zac is currently in the United States but I wanted to drive her last week to see where she is at. “You could see me driving a bit more this season. I’ve always loved competing and winning out on the track, but I’ve also believed in giving the young ones a fair go. They are our future,” Purdon said Purdon only had 19 drives last season for three wins and seven placings. That equated to a healthy 0.3275 UDR strike-rate. All-up since his junior driving days in 1974 Purdon has driven 604 winners from 2,156 drives. He’s also placed 839 times for $6.3 million in career stakes. His best year in the sulky came in 1990-1991 when he drove 44 winners for a 0.3050 strike rate. “I will be talking to Brian about the horse’s future, but you could see me out there a bit more this season. I’m still hungry for it,” Purdon hinted. Brian is Brian West of Studholme Bloodstock, who bred and owns Start Dreaming. Purdon said the American Ideal mare would bypass the New Zealand Cup Carnival at Addington in November. “We targeted last Friday’s race to see exactly where she was at and she has proven to us that she is certainly good enough to start in the Spring Cup. She’s up to that grade, in fact any grade. “After the Spring Cup we will build towards the Queen Of Hearts at Alexandra Park in December and then possibly the Ladyship Mile. But she has only had one race back this campaign and we are getting a wee bit ahead of ourselves - but that’s our long-term plan, all going well,” said Purdon. Last Friday Start Dreaming had her first race since February 28. That’s when she finished an unlucky fifth in the Ladyship Mile at Tabcorp Park, Menangle. She went into the Sims Pacific Metals R76-R106 Pace with a win and a second behind Hughie Green at the Workouts. Purdon sat in the one-one and when he stepped off the track his new stable star had reeled off one of the the fastest ever last 800m times recorded in New Zealand. She paced the 2700m mobile 3:28.5 (mile rate 2:04.2) with final 800m and 400m sectionals of 53.7 and 27 flat. “That was a pretty amazing last quarter and she felt real nice doing it. I don’t want to get too carried away but she is a very exciting race horse. She’s top of the pile in our barn, ahead of Hug The Wind and Ideal Belle,” said Purdon. Start Dreaming has now won seven of her 18 starts and placed in six others for $173,282. Her biggest win came on February 20 this year when she nailed the Group Two Robin Dundee Classic at Tabcorp Park Menangle. Her best performances in New Zealand came last year in the Northern Oaks and Harness Jewels 3yo Diamond, where she ran second and third respectively. Start Dreaming is the second of five foals out of the 14-year-old In the Pocket mare, Simply Devine. Her bolder brother, My Style (by McArdle) has won four races in Australia. Simply Devine has also left a 4-year-old Art Official mare named I’m A Dreamer, who has won one of his three starts for Leeston trainer, Hayden Galway. She also has a 3-year-old Art Official colt named I’m A Dreamer, and a yearling Sportswriter colt named Power Dreaming. She is currently in foal to Bettor’s Delight. Purdon has never won the Queen Of Hearts but his good mare Lancewood Lizzie won the Harness Jewels 4yo Ruby Final last year. Duane Ranger

As a breeder, for you are to have consistently good results at the yearling sales each year, then you really need a good crystal ball on top of everything else. When the vendors were planning what mare to breed to what stallion to produce the yearlings they sold at the sales this year, they had to make a judgement call on which stallions they thought would be in demand two and a half years down the track and which wouldn't be in such demand. It is an incredibly hard thing to get right and the margin for error is huge. It was with some satisfaction then that Studholme Park and Brian West produced the only two yearlings by Love You at the yearling sales this year. The stock of Love You are the hottest item in town on the trotting stallion front and Studholme Park was duly rewarded for its foresight with both yearlings selling for big money. First up was Lot 294, a Love You colt from a race winning half sister to the dam of I Can Doosit 1:55.5 ($1,455,774) named Thank You. Appropriately, Thank You was knocked down to two of the biggest supporters of Love You in New Zealand in Greg and Nina Hope who outlaid $50,000 for the good looking chestnut colt. Greg and Nina have had a lot of success with the stock of Love You from Monbet to the The Earth Moved and it was no surprise to see them have a nibble at the second Love You colt from the Studholme Park draft. Catalogued as Lot 334, the striking chestnut colt is named Paramount King and is a half brother to the outstanding age group trotter in Paramount Geegee 1:57.3 ($561,342) and a full brother to the Harness Jewels winner in Paramount Queen 1:59.7 ($122,612) while another half sister in Paramount Dream (8 wins) is heading for open class in the north. The bidding was fierce from the moment Paramount King walked into the ring and never let up until suddenly $110,000 became the ceiling for the buyers chasing him. Prominent Invercargill owner Ben Calder signed for the colt but he had already started the process of putting together a syndicate to race the colt before the auction. So Studholme Park grossed $160,000 for their two Love You colts which just goes to show how important that stallion choice is two and a half years out from the yearling sales. Harnesslink Media

Anyone who has been around the New Zealand yearling sale scene over the last 30 years will know who Brian West is. Since the mid 1980s, Brian has been preparing and selling yearlings for the Christcurch based sale and during that time he has lead the way in introducing things such as specialized feeding and exercise programmes which have revolutionized how yearlings are prepared in 2016 compared to just a few years ago. The yearlings presented at New Zealand sales in 2016 are up there with anything in the world and Brian has been a big part of that development over the years. There wouldn't be a major yearling vendor in North America who hasn't had a visit from Brian trying to pick their brains for any knowledge that would help his boutique breeding operation Studholme Park produce a better yearling. The results would say that Brian is as good as it gets when it comes to producing elite level age group performers and this years draft once again looks full of quality individuals. I recently sat down with Brian to discuss this years draft and to ask for his opinion on which lots had really impressed him but he wanted his staff involved in the discussion as well . " I have outstanding staff lead by Jan Payne and I respect their opinion enormously so I will nominate the yearlings that have impressed me but I would like their views to be known as well as they have been with the yearlings since day one," Brian told Harnesslink this week Brians Selections Top Colt  -  Lot 334 - A chestnut colt by Love You from Paramount Star Just an outstanding colt in every way. He has a lovely attitude, he is with you the whole time. Very quick learner and just a pleasure to work with. I have bred some elite level trotters in the past but this colt is the next generation up in my opinion. He just ticks every box for me Top Filly - Lot 260  -  A brown filly by Bettor's Delight from Lancome This filly reminds me so much of her mother and she has all those little habits that her dam had. There is a bit of class about her when you work with her and she has a superb temperament which is so critical today. I have had a lot of high class fillies through Studholme Park over the years and you pick up all the little traits that the elite performers have and this filly has them all in spades. Sleeper in the draft  -  Lot 398  -  A bay colt by Art Official from Simply Devine This was an easy selection. Being by Art Official means he is behind the eight ball from the start but the buyers should put their catalogue down and just have a look at the colt. He is one very well put together colt and a very attractive type in the flesh. A very quick learner who is just a pleasure to do anything with. Everyone at Studholme Park likes him which is a rare achievement for a yearling here I can tell you. He is there to be sold so someone is going to get a cheap horse whatever he sells for.   Staffs Selection (Jan Payne) Top Colt - Lot 312 - A brown colt by Bettor's Delight from My Style A lovely colt who has all the attributes you look for in those elite colts.. He is a correct attractive colt, who is always cooperative when you are working with him. He is a very alert colt who is a very quick learner but not one to get stressed. Just ticks every box and does it easily. Top Filly  -  Lot 493  - A bay filly by Bettor's Delight from A Legend Just a lovely filly to do anything with right from day one. She picks things up quickly and is a very mature filly for her age. Nothing worries her which is a big plus and she has all the attributes of a filly that will run early. Sleeper in the draft  -  Lot 398 - A bay colt by Art Official from Simply Devine I have to agree with Brian here in that the Art Official colt has impressed everyone at Studholme during the yearling preparation. He is such a lovely individual to do anything with and is a great looking horse as well. He has shown all the attributes you look for in an elite colt but being by Art Official will see him make a fraction of what we think he is worth. Brian and Studholme Park are offering twenty yearlings over the two days of the New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale at Christchurch and one thing you can be sure of is those yearlings have lacked for nothing in the lead up to next week. Harnesslink Media

Studholme Park proprieter Brian West is one of those rare people within the harness racing industry in New Zealand - a successful yearling preparer and vendor over a long period. For over 30 years Brian has built and refined his boutique breeding operation Studholme Park into one of the premier breeding farms in Australasia It is a testament to his professionalism and staying power that after all this time, the yearlings he offers each year are so keenly sought after by buyers from both sides of the Tasman.  The mare that really set Brian on his way from the yearling sales prospective all those years ago is the Lumber Dream mare in Dream Bel. From the time she produced the outstanding pacer Defoe 1:53 ($423,272), Dream Bel and her daughters and grand daughters have produced countless winners for the Studholme Park operation. Having sold so many fillies from this family at the yearling sales over the years has meant that other vendors apart from Brian are just as likely to be selling from descendents of Dream Bel as Brian is these days. There are several yearlings that fall into this category at this years sales and we thought the pick of them was Lot 88 at the Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka on February 22nd. Named Suidelike Major, the son of Art Major is the second foal and first colt from the very smart Christian Cullen mare in Suidelike Meisie 1:57.1 ($79,484) who raced in the Harness Jewels at three. At one stage of her three year old season Suidelike Meisie put together five wins in succession which does underscore what a classy filly she was. There are plenty of quality performers from the family racing at present in Australasia with the brilliant racemare Start Dreaming 1:51.7 ($122,660) flying the flag in the upcoming $200,000 Ladyship Mile at Menangle. What really attracted us to this colt was the photos and videos which shows him to be one great looking colt with class written all over him. He is such an impressive type of yearling that we think he will be in hot demand on sale day at Karaka Harnesslink Media  

Studholme Park proprietor Brian West has been in the commercial breeding industry longer than most active breeders in the New Zealand market and is forever facing the dilemma of weather to support new sires in their initial years at stud. Brian's lives and dies financially on returns from each years yearlings sales and the progeny he sells need to be attractive to the marketplace on both a breeding and physical front. Hence Brian will have his share of the Bettor's Delights and Art Majors and Love You's throughout his offerings and with his proven record of producing quality two and three year olds, his stock are always in huge demand each year. It is not very often that Studholme Park will take a financial punt on a new stallion in the market. They will breed the odd mare to a new stallion if the breeding matchups suggest but very rarely in any numbers as the potential downside if you get it wrong are significant. This year however Brian has changed tack and will consign five yearlings by the first season sire Auckland Reactor at the New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale at Christchurch and as the sales rapidly approach, Brian is more than comfortable with the stock he will offer. " I couldn't be happier with the Auckland Reactor's heading into the sale at Christchurch." " The more I have done with them during the sales preparation, the happier I have been with my decision to support him in such numbers in his initial years." " They have great attitudes and are with you the whole way and that makes such a difference with young horses." " I have been lucky enough to breed a lot of top horses over the years and you pick up the attributes that set them apart from the rest and I have seen a lot of those attributes in the Auckland Reactors I am preparing for this sale, " Brian said. As any vendor is loath to do, Brian is reluctant to single out any one individual but it quickly becomes apparent talking to him that Lot 512, Please Shuddup, a colt from the Christian Cullen mare Blah Blah Blah has really made an impression on Brian. " He is one of those colts that impresses you from the first time you do anything with him." " He handles everything new like he has been doing it all his life and nothing appears to ruffle him." " Right from day one here he has stood out from the bunch and I have a lot of time for him," Brian said. Having the five Auckland Reactors in this years sale, you would think Brian may have taken a wait and see approach before recommitting to the stallion with more mares but Brian again sent half a dozen mares to Auckland Reactor in the last breeding season. " With the five I have prepared here, I struggle to see how he won't make it as a sire." " I haven't got one I don't like in the five and I am as confident as you can be that I have made the right call here," Brian said. With leading breeders like Brian West in his corner, Auckland Reactor is being given every opportunity to establish himself in the stallion marketplace. Harnesslink Media

The old saying about timing being everything when selling yearlings has always held true and this year will be no different. Stallions with progeny excelling in or dominating the big age group and classic races always extract a big premium on harness racing sale day. If the vendor is really lucky, they can also strike the jackpot where the numbers by the stallion in question are very low, creating an availability issue as well. That perfect storm is present at this years round of sales for the brilliant trotting sire,Love You. The last twelve months have been a stellar period for the European bred stallion with Monbet, Kincaslough, Habibti and Yagunnakissmeornot all excelling in classic and age group racing in New Zealand. His overall statistics are super impressive with a winners to foal ratio of just under 50% for his crops three years and older and he looks to have several very serious two year olds trialing at present which is only further enhancing his reputation. In such circumstances, you would normally expect a swag of the progeny of Love You to be cataloged for this years round of sales but issues between the two management parties supplying the frozen semen of Love You meant his availability was severely restricted in the 2103/2014 breeding season. As a result we only have two of Love You's progeny being offered at the New Zealand Premier Yearling sale this year and as luck would have it, Brian West of Studholme Park is the vendor of both. Not only are the two yearlings by the hottest trotting sire in the country, but they both have have a " Blue Blood' maternal pedigree to balance the pedigree page. Lot 294 at Christchurch is a colt named Thank You and is the first live foal of the racewinning S J's Photo mare Margaritaville who is a half sister to the 2011-2012 Broodmare of the year in Sheezadoosie (7 wins) who of course is the dam of the champion I Can Doosit 1:55.5 ($1,445,774) and Sno's Big Boy 1:58.4 ($215,309) Lot 334 at Christchurch is named Paramount King and is a son of Paramount Star (7 wins) who has already produced the brilliant age group star in Paramount Geegee 1:57.3 ($561,342) and a full sister to Paramount King in Paramount Queen 1:59.7 ($122,612) while Paramount Dream who has won seven in the last twelve months is another daughter on the rise. In normal circumstances both of these colts would be in high demand but throw in the supply side of the equation and heaven knows what they might bring. Both are chestnuts which a lot of the smart Love You progeny in New Zealand are and as you can see from the photo's, both have that touch of class in appearance. It is not often that trotters top the $100,000 mark at yearling sales in New Zealand but both of these colts have the potential to do so this year. Harnesslink Media

Tonight at the harness racing meeting at Addington Raceway, we will see the debut performance of the very smart three year old, Freedom Fighter. A son of Courage Under Fire, Freedom Fighter went through the 2014 New Zealand Premier Sale at Christchurch where he changed hands for $48,000 The vendor Brian West of Studholme Park had a lot of time for the colt and arranged to be part of the syndicate that was formed to race the horse by the purchaser Robert Dunn. Freedom Fighter had half a dozen starts at trials and workouts at two against some of the best two year olds around and was always competitive but was put aside to mature Now a three year old, Freedom Fighter has been burning up the trial tracks in Canterbury lately with his last effort at Rangiora especially noteworthy when he came home in 56 and 26.5 for an easy 6 1/2 length win. Tonight on his debut he will face some really nice horses such as Articulight, Imola and Linton Shard but he looks to have all the attributes to make a winning debut.  Driver John Dunn has a good opinion of Freedom Fighter. " He is a really nice horse and I think he will be hard to beat tonight." " His run at the last workouts was very good and I'm going in pretty confident," John said. Any good horse that is running sectionals like Freedom Fighter has at the trials recently always attracts the attention of the bloodstock agents and it is no different here. " There has been quite a bit of interest in him but he hasn't been sold at this stage." " The agents are keen to watch him run tonight and then make a decision," John said. With the aid of barrier one, Freedom Fighter looks very hard to beat here in what is shaping as his only start for the Dunn barn Harnesslink Media  

Harness racing can be cruel at times as Studholme Bloodstocks Brian West well knows after he lost the services of his second open class trotting mare in the space of three months when he had to retire the outstanding trotting mare Paramount Queen recently. Brian had to pull the plug on the racing career of the outstanding trotting racemare Superbowlcheerleader earlier in the season and now he has lost the services of Paramount Queen after she had a heart fibrillation during a race at Addington on March 27th. Even though Paramount Queen won eight races and $122,612 in New Zealand racing at the highest levels it was a career littered with top performances against the best in which she was repeatedly placed in a lot of the classics At two Paramount Queen was beaten into third in both the New Zealand Trotting Stakes and the New Zealand Sires Stakes Final behind Sheemon and Habibti and then ran third to Royal Aspirations and Sheemon in the Harness Jewels. At three Paramount Queen won the $25,000 Hambletonian Trot over the boys before running second to Habibti in the New Zealand Oaks and third behind Prime Power and Sheemon in the Harness Jewels. Her best run at four was a close fourth to Sheemon in the Harness Jewels and she started her five year old season with a hiss and a roar with two outstanding wins at Auckland which was followed by a career best run for second to Stent in the Waikato Flying Mile where she was credited with a placed time of 1:54.6. Another close second at Auckland where she was only out of the money once in eight starts followed before the heart fibrillation problem raised its ugly head to stop her career just when it looked like she had come of age as a racehorse. A daughter of Love You, Paramount Queen is bred to be way above average. She is a half sister to the former outstanding age group trotter Paramount Geegee 1:57.3 ($561,342) and her dam Paramount Star (7 wins) ($54,130) was a half sister to the former open class trotter Paramount Jack 1:58.6 (12 wins) Brian West has been having a great season with his three year pacing fillies with both Start Dreaming 1:58.1 ($50,650) and On The Town 1:56.7 ($23,306) looking legitimate New Zealand Oaks chances but his luck with his high class trotting mares has been all bad. Paramount Queen has now settled in at Brian's showplace breeding establishment at Coe's Ford and we can no doubt look forward to seeing her progeny at the Premier yearling sales in years to come. Harnesslink Media

At the Australasian Classic Sale on Monday and the first day of the Premier sale yesterday, one of the big players on the New Zealand harness racing scene was all but missing from the action. Cran Dalgety bought just one yearling in Auckland and yesterday he bought just three and none of the big ticket yearlings. So coming to today Cran had plenty of ammunition to fire on the lots that he really liked. " It wasn't that I wasn't trying to buy on the first two days but the opposition outstayed me on several occasions." " I took it as a positive that at least my judgement of the yearlings was spot on," Cran told Harnesslink today. The first big money yearling to come up today was Lot 336 Named Saint Laurent, he is a Bettors Delight colt from the brilliant racemare Lancome, 1:54.9 ($461,278) Cran was in the fight early and when the dust settled Saint Laurent was headed to Kentuckiana Lodge for the princely sum of $110,000. Cran thought he was worth every cent of the purchase price. " He is a lovely type who looks like he will run early." " His dam Lancome was a brilliant racemare and if he is as half as good as her I will be happy." " It was a bonus that Brian West was the vendor as he supports a lot of New Zealand trainers with his race fillies and it is good to see him get some money back,"Cran said. Having got over the line on one of the big ticket yearlings, Cran turned his attention to Lot 368. Named Millwood Daisy, the daughter of Art Major was the first foal of the former outstanding racemare Millwood Meg, 1:53.5 ($233,596). Cran was really keen on the upstanding filly and drove the bidding from the start and as soon as Cran got to $100,000 the bidding stalled and she joined Saint Laurent on her way to Kentuckiana Lodge. Cran thought she was one of the two best fillies in the whole sale. " I bid on Kharizma at the Australasian Sale but the Rosati's kept me at bay" " I thought todays filly was the equal of her so I'm glad to have secured her." " Like a lot of the good fillies she has a real masculine colt like appearance and that's what I like to see in a filly,"  Cran said. So having nailed what would turn out to be the only two six figure lots of the day, Cran turned his attention to the rest of the catalogue and by sales end had brought four more yearlings. * Lot 438 - Black Raine - Filly by Bettors Delight from Rona Lorraine for $42,000 * Lot 448 - With a Dream - Colt by Bettors Delight from Secret Potion for $65,000 * Lot 451 - Dapper - Colt by Rocknroll Hanover from Smart Decision for $30,000 * Lot 486 - Time Traveller - Colt by Mach Three from Timeless Perfection for $71,000 Cran's total outlay for the six yearlings he brought today was a rather large $418,000 while his spend for the ten yearlings over the three days was $655,500 Cran plans to syndicate the ten yearlings he brought this week. " With the cost of the yearlings today, a lot of my owners can't afford to buy a lot of these horses on their own." "So I tend to give my group of owners a lot of options with regards to the yearlings they can buy shares in." "I like to have four owners in each horse to share the cost and the risk around." "It is just as big a thrill for owners to win a big race with other shareholders involved," Cran said. Cran has built up an enviable record of success with youngsters bought from the sales and this weeks yearling purchases look like helping build on that record. Harnesslink Media

One person who has been having a great run over the last few weeks is Studholme Park proprietor Brian West who just seems to have a new winner at every meeting lately. Brian made the decision a few years ago to retain most of his fillies as he was finding it hard to get a return at the sales on his fillies. Those fillies now go to trainers all over New Zealand and he has had some lovely fillies and mares in the last few years but even Brian must have been gobsmacked recently with the level of success he has been enjoying lately. Breeding to sell for nearly 30 years, Brian has established a quality brood mare band and has been churning out  quality winners for most of that time. Several generations of some of our more successful families are now recognized as a Studholme Park product and his yearlings are keenly sought after each year. Having sold a lot of fillies earlier on at the sales, a lot of the "Studholme " families fillies from that time are spread around Australasia at various studs. Several of those have progeny tracing back to fillies sold by Studholme Park in this years sales. One from the videos that took our eye was Lot 121, Lerato at the Australasian Classic Sale. A daughter of leading Australasian sire Art Major, Lerato is the first foal from the very smart Christian Cullen mare in Suidelike Meisie 1:57.1 ($79,484) She was good enough to make a Harness Jewels Final at Ashburton but her best run was when she ran second to the champion Terror To Love 1:51.1 ($2,395,091)  in a 1:57.2 mile rate for 2200 metres at Alexandra Park. This is the family that got Brian West going all those years ago when Defoe 1:53 ($423,272) burst on to the scene and it has continued to produce classic winning types ever since. Horses such as All Systems Go 1:51.2 ($376,267)  Silver Lined Pocket 1:50.2 ($354,658)  Dream Out Loud 1:48.8 ($322,746) and Secret Potion 1:57.1 ($285,313) have kept this family in the spotlight. Lerato has really thrown to the dam with a real Christian Cullen look about her and looks well placed to add further kudos  to her great maternal family. Harnesslink Media  

Brian West has been preparing horses for the harness racing yearling sales longer than he would care to admit and knows that there are so many variables that can affect the result on the day. A lot of those variables are outside of his control so Brian just concentrates on presenting his stock in the best condition possible on the day. Mother nature plays her part with regards to the makeup of his draft and in that regard this year, Brian couldn't be happier. " This would be one of the nicest groups of yearlings I have had to sell for quite a while. "I couldn't be happier with them a month out and I am going into the sales with a fair bit of confidence," Brian said. It is never easy to get the preparers involved in the sales prep to agree on the "best " one in their draft but the Studholme team agreed on a top three from their prospective. Lot 462 - Undercurrent A son of Somebeachsomewhere, Undercurrent is the third foal from Under The Odds, a Bettors Delight daughter of champion racemare Under Cover Lover 1:51.8 ($864,925). The first foal from Under The Odds is the smart Australian three year old The Odd Lover 1:56.1 ($43,720) who has won five from nine to date and looks to be a major player in the three year old classics in Western Australia this season. Brian has been really taken with the colt. " I just love his attitude when you dealing with him." "He is one of those horses that is with you 100%." "It doesn't hurt that he is such a great looking/moving horse as well," Brian said. Lot 267 - On The Rantan A son of Bettors Delight, On The Rantan is the fifth foal from the In The Pocket mare Funontherun 1:58.3 who already has the runs on the board. Funontherun has left three winners to date including On The Razzle 1:53.1 ($137,478) Ohoka Cooper 1:56.7 ($44,674) and last weeks super impressive debutant at Addington On The Town 1:57 All three winners are by Bettors Delight so On The Rantan has plenty to live up to. " This boy is different to Undercurrent in that he will boss you if you let him. " He is all colt and is fiercely determined." " He is a lovely bodied horse and the more you do with him the more you like him," Brian said. Lot 336 - Saint Laurent  A son of Bettors Delight, Saint Laurent is the second foal and first colt from the former brilliant racemare Lancome 1:54.9 ($461,278) who from a two year old to a four year old raced and won at the highest level in New Zealand. A descendant of the "Guest" family with which the late Jack Smolenski had so much success with especially at age group level, Saint Laurent is an out and out "Blue Blood" " I think this one does know who his parents are." " He has got that bit of arrogance about him that the good horses have." " He is a really athlectic individual to boot," Brian said.   All vendors with large drafts have a "sleeper" in their group which due to any number of factors are unlikely to make the money they should. It could be due to the sire being out of "fashion" or the mare having yet to leave a black type winner or a combination of reasons. Brian has no doubts which horse is his "sleeper" this year Lot 239 - He's Official A son of Art Official, He's Official is the first foal from the Bettors Delight mare Delightful Lover. Delightful Lover is a half sister to the smart filly Castellina Lover 1:55.3 while the grand-dam is Delizioso 1:56.6 who is a full sister to Under Cover Lover 1:51.8 ($864,925) Brian has noticed the response to the colt from the many trainers and owners previewing his draft at his Coes Ford property. " Being an Art Official means he probably wont be on the top of any buying lists but any one who has seen him parade has gone and had a second look after the parade. "He has a real presense about him and is a lovely type." " If he was a Bettors Delight or Art Major he would fetch big money on his looks," Brian said. With fifteen yearlings entered this year Brian and his staff have had their hands full keeping everything on track but going by the appearance of the yearlings when we visited yesterday, the Studholme Park crew are in for a very successful sale. Harnesslink Media 

The second heat of the Southern Belle Speed Series for mares, run at Ascot Park on Thursday, was a triumph for Makarewa trainer Austin Stack who shares ownership of the winner Sheeza Shark with Terry Ashby and Neil McDiarmid. Ashby paid $9000 for Sheeza Shark at the 2012 Sales and invited Stack and McDiarmid in. When she ended her three year old season with a record of three wins and three placings from six starts, Stack named the speed series as an ideal target for her second campaign. The win guarantees her a start in the $20,000 final at Winton on 14 March, won last year by Helena Jet. Nathan Williamson drove Sheeza Shark, his 498th New Zealand winner. Earlier in the day, trotter Poppymalda was his 497th when she scored her second win in six starts. She is trained by Williamson who also has an ownership share. He was the only driver to get two wins but his father Phil, Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, and Tony Stratford trained two each. Springbank Sam won the group three Southern Lights for Phil Williamson while stablemate Father Christmas returned from six months away from racing to record his fourth win in eight starts. Williamson said the four year old is still maturing but will be given the chance to make the Jewels. “If he wins enough money he'll be there,” Williamson said. Purdon and Rasmussen won the group three Northern Southland Cup with Isaiah and produced Take The Sky to win his third from five starts, despite going from the outside of the second line and being caught wide for a lot of the 2200 metre journey. Take To The Sky was bred by Brian West and is raced by his company Studholme Bloodstock Limited. Bonnie's Khaleesi was the first of Stratford's two winners and credited Clark Barron with his 990th New Zealand driving win. S he is the fourth foal of Bonnie Lass whose 10 wins included the 2001 Northern Southland Cup. Bonnie Lass was prepared for all but one of her wins by Brent McIntyre, who shares in the ownership of Bonnie's Khaleesi. She was his second winner in a week following the success of Levi Jade at Wyndham two days earlier. In his first start since the Sires Stakes Final in November, Stratford's second winner Pulp Fiction won the battle of arguably Southland's best three year old colts when he came off the back of Costa Del Magnifico and beat him by three lengths in 2:41.7 for the mobile 2200. It was the last race of the day but Dexter Dunn's first winner. Glenn Scott from Kaiapoi gained his first win at Ascot Park when Take After Me not only won but picked up a harness plus bonus as well. From the 21st crop of the legendary Holmes Hanover, Take After Me is raced by Scott's parents, Fred and Janice. Mainland Banner's fourth foal Rocker Band won at her second start, having been narrowly beaten on debut at the Wairio meeting by Rakarolla, half sister to 1:54.9 miler Raksdeal. Mac Henry - Courtesy Of Harness Racing New Zealand  

Harness racing in New Zealand lost one of its racetrack stars this week when the outstanding trotting racemare Superbowlcheerleader was retired due to injury. Since joining the All Stars team last year, she had gone ahead in leaps and bounds and looked to be in for a huge season. Originally with the Wallis/Hackett barn for whom she won six races, Superbowlcheerleader was purchased last year by Brian West and Sue Grainger first and foremost as a future broodmare. The daughter of Sundon had won six races and close to $40,000 and after being purchased,she was transferred to the All Stars barn at Rolleston for a few more starts before becoming a broodmare. However it soon became apparent that Superbowlcheerleader was far from finished an the racetrack. Always known to be a touch headstrong like a lot of the Sundon's, Superbowlcheerleader showed the All Star team enough to suggest that they should press on with a race career. It took half a dozen starts for the All Stars team to get her to the winners circle but she kept on improving and a 3rd in the $80,000 Group 1 New Zealand Trotting Championship to Master Lavros in a 1:59.4 mile rate for the 2600 metres had everyone sitting up and taking notice. At her next start Superbowlcheerleader won the $95,845 Group 1 Anzac Cup over Zedalite after sitting parked for the majority of the journey in what was undoubtedly her best win. She started this season with a neck second to Kinscaslough in New Zealand record time and looked to be peaking nicely for all the big trotting races around Cup week. Since being purchased and transferred to the All Stars barn, Superbowlcheerleader had faced the starter 19 times for 4 wins and 5 placings for stakes of $99,337. She goes to stud with an overall record of 47 starts for 10 wins, 5 seconds and 8 thirds for stakes totaling $139,782 When spoken to this morning Brian West while disappointed with how it ended, has loved the ride with the mare. " We purchased her really as a broodmare and to have her turn around and race like that has been a huge thrill"  he said. " Mark and Natalie have done such a great job with her and I feel for them a bit as they thought she was shaping up to have her best season yet. "We haven't decided on a stallion for her yet but there is no shortage of world class sires available,"  he said. Superbowlcheerleader is the 3rd foal from the Britewell mare Brite Paula. The first two are both winners in Going Commando - 6 wins ($37,477) and Hot Holiday -17 wins ($159,404) while Brite Paula herself is a full sister to the former age group star Super Command -11 wins ($185,803) The third dam is the brilliant trotting mare Paula Scott who raced in North America in the 1970s, taking a record then of 2:00 and earning $123,198. and she was a half sister to the great trotting mare Paulette who won the 1971 Group One Rowe Cup. It has been a great trotting family for over 40 years and Superbowlcheerleader will get her chance at stud to further enhance its standing. Harnesslink Media

Harnesslink has become aware of the sudden death of the well known and respected harness racing identity, Ken McDonald at his home in Brisbane, Australia One of the "McDonald clan from Christchurch, Ken was well known in both harness and thoroughbred circles on both sides of the Tasman. His business success in the telecommunications industry let Ken pursue his passion for horse racing in both Australia and New Zealand over several decades. Ken first came to prominence in harness racing with the champion pacer Master Musician 1:54 ($1,926,810) who he raced with his close friend Eugene Stork and Robert Dunn. Over the years he has raced horses with a lot of his friends including Brian West of Studholme Park with whom Ken currently raced a few fillies including Secret Lotion and Art Critic. Ken was at Addington as recently as last Thursday night to see Dongel Jimmy Dave, who he races with family members, win impressively. A longtime friend and client of leading Queensland thoroughbred trainer Alan Bailey, Ken had interest in both codes in Australia. His latest star in the harness racing side of things in Australia was the brilliant For A Reason 1:49.4 ($803,433) Ken was really keen to bring  For a Reason to Addington for this years New Zealand Cup in an effort to stop his brother Terry, owner of champion pacer Terror To Love from claiming his fourth straight cup victory. Ken figured as Terry had won three, maybe it was time for his younger brother to have a turn although as anyone who knows them knew, the brothers were very close. Ken was also known on both sides of the Tasman as a generous warm hearted man of the highest integrity. He will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him. The funeral service for Ken will be held at Silks at Addington Raceway on Thursday August 14th. Harnesslink Media

For anyone to be a commercial breeder in the standardbred industry in New Zealand means they usually need a benevolent banker and a determination to stick it out for the long term. It is a part of the harness racing industry that sees a lot of participants come in all gung ho and leave a short time later, wiser and poorer for the experience. A small number have been able to structure their breeding operations in such a way that not only are they profitable but they produce a high quality and successful product to boot. At the forefront of this small group in New Zealand is the founder of Studholme Bloodstock, Brian West. Recently we travelled to his magnificent 300 acre property at Coes Ford in Canterbury to spend an afternoon with Brian to get an over view of his involvement to date and what the future holds. Harnesslink When did you first develop an interest in the Harness Racing Industry. Brian West  My first memories were as a thirteen year old. That interest grew to the point where in my early twenties  I  purchased my first horse. I used to go to local dispersal sales looking to pick up well bred stock with a view to trading them further down the track. Harnesslink Anyone you turned to for advice in those early days. Brian West Jim Dalgety was a great help in those early days and I still seek his advice at times today. He has a wealth of knowledge and is very generous with his time. Alec Purdon and Des Callaghan (Tara Lodge) were two others that I sought out in those early years and they both helped me immensely. I am indebted to them all for their help. Harnesslink How did Yonkers Breeding Partnership come about? Brian West In 1986, I set up Yonkers Breeding Partnership in conjunction with four close friends of mine. We floated the partnership and it ended up with 100 investors all up. The aim was to target the top end of the yearling market. The partnership purchased the bloodstock and things looked to be coming together nicely when out of the blue the government of the day completely changed the tax structure for bloodstock. That completely compromised the financial viability of Yonkers Breeding Partnership. As a result we sold down the bloodstock over a period of three years at a significant loss. The partnership was very fortunate however as the funding borrowed from Barclays Bank was secured against the bloodstock and not the investors so the money lost by the investors was minimal. In 1986, we set up Club Classics Syndicates as an outlet for some of our bloodstock. The first syndicate was made up of seven horses with seven different trainers but we were having trouble selecting the seventh horse for the package. Robert Dunn went and looked at a group of horses we owned and to our surprise chose a smallish plain looking Stampede colt as the seventh horse. Of course he turned out to be Defoe 1:53 ($423,372) and that gave the syndicates a lot of creditability going forward. We were based at the old Watties farm in Shands road at the time and we had employed Michael House to do all the pre-training of the syndicate horses which also helped in their success. Harnesslink How did Yonkers Breeding Partnership (1989) come about. Brian West After the wind up of Yonkers Breeding Partnership, a few of the investors wanted to start again. So we wrote to the 100 original investors and offered them the opportunity to be involved. About 10% took up the offer and together we formed Yonkers Breeding Partnership (1989). We purchased the ten best pedigreed mares from the original Yonkers portfolio. Harnesslink How long did Yonkers Breeding Partnership (1989) last for? Brian West A little over twelve years all up. Most of the investors were coming up to retirement and wanted to free up some cash. The Bloodstock was valued and purchased by Studholme Park (BD West) The partnership made a profit every year of its twelve years, something I and manager, Jack Hartley, were very proud of, as they were very difficult days in the standardbred industry in New Zealand. Harnesslink At what point did the bloodstock operations evolve to their present name of Studholme Bloodstock? Brian West Studholme Bloodstock was formed in January 2003. Taking ownership of the bloodstock formally owned by Studholme Park (BD West) Harnesslink Why did you move from the Shands road property as it was beautifully set up Brian West I was looking to down size our breeding operation to create more leisure time, at the same time a developer made an offer to purchase the Shands Road property. I wasn't sure where I was going to go but I ran into an old friend of mine in real estate and not long after that he convinced me to have a look at the farm we are presently on. I would have to be honest and say when I first saw the property as I drove in, I was less than impressed as the house and outbuildings looked very run down. But my friend convinced me to have a look at the farm and I am glad I did because it is an outstanding property. I purchased 70 acres at first and then further down the track I purchased an additional 230 acres of an adjoining property to give me the 300 acres we presently have. It is a beautifully set up farm with 10 acre paddocks and shelter to each paddock from the easterly and the southerly winds. The earthquakes destroyed the main house (built in 1863) and I have yet to finalise its future with the insurance company but I have restored the other buildings on the property including the fourteen box ‘mews’, a two-storey stable complex and recently refurbished a small cottage which is now my home. Harnesslink How many stocks does the farm carry? Brian West Can vary from time to time but usually we would be carrying 100 horses and we finish up to 200 cattle as well. We run the cattle behind the horses and we crop some paddocks each year. All our paddocks are sown with a grass mix that has a heavy emphasis on red clover which seems to suit our soil type here. Harnesslink Any outside clients Brian West No, I have turned down dozens of approaches over the years. I do have breeding arrangements with a few people on a 50/50 basis and race some fillies with friends. I would calculate that Studholme Bloodstock owns outright about 70% of the horses on the farm at any one time. I am in breeding and racing arrangements with long term clients and friends: Peter Smith and Winky Foley (Kahukuri Bloodstock), Neville Tilsley, Mike and Sue Grainger (Grainger Bloodstock), John Purvis (Grassy Meadows Farm), Vicky Purdon, Mike Gourdie, Gavin Chin, Graham Gimblett and Ken McDonald of Master Musician and For a Reason fame. Harnesslink You didn’t sell fillies at the sales for a period of four or five years there not long ago .Why? Brian West When I first set up Studholme Park, I sold every foal I bred as that was the only way to pay the bills and keep our heads above water. Buyers of yearlings are generally looking for a reason not to buy and unless they are faultless in conformation and pedigree they were not giving me a return on my investment. As I became more financial and aware that our fillies were being sold at a loss in most instances, I decided to retain all fillies and try them as a race horse. The result of this decision has been very positive for my farm. These days we will sell the odd filly but they have to tick every box before I enter them in the yearling sales. This year I retained nine fillies which have all been broken in. Harnesslink What trainers do you use? Brian West I stopped counting when I got to seventy. These days though I mainly use Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen while I also have some with Cran Dalgety and Robert and John Dunn and Grant Payne. Different fillies suit different trainers. Secret Lotion and Art Critic never really settled at Marks and Natalies but have been in great form since joining Robert and John’s team so I am not afraid to move them if I think it might help. One year I sent seven fillies to Nicole Molander in Sydney. They all won enough money to pay their way and came back home with smart mile rates besides their name which is always helpful when selling at the sales Harnesslink How many have you got for next years’ sales and could you give us a rundown on their programme from weaning up to sale day. Brian West I will have 12 colts and two fillies barring injuries for next years’ sale. We run them in small mobs right through from weaning. They are fed a barley based mix that I have made to our specifications which has a 16% protein component. We change the mix on the 1st of August, reducing the protein component to 13% The hard feed is supplemented with lucerne/red clover baleage and some meadow hay. We have 14 double fenced yearling paddocks which we use during the sale prep. The sales prep starts on December 1st, we bring them in from the paddocks at seven in the morning. Following breakfast, they will be put on a walker for 30 minutes. They stay in for lunch and are put back in their paddocks at two in the afternoon and they stay there overnight. We do that right up to Christmas and then give them ten days off to freshen them up. We will then start again in early January and go right through to the sale which is usually around the 20th February. A lot of trainers/buyers like to come and see the horses on farm and we fit in around them as much as we can. Also, we are part of the very successful sales bus tour. Our main marketing push comes in the form of a booklet showing a photograph of each yearling. Harnesslink Whom would you rate the best horse you have raced –bred—seen Brian West The best horse I have raced would have to be Secret Potion 1:57.5 ($285,313) who won both the Great Northern Oaks (Group1) and Nevele R Fillies Final(Group1). Close behind would be Lancome 1:54.9 ($461,278) who won 13 races including the Harness Jewels  4 year old Diamond (Group1) The best horse I have bred would have to be A Bit Of A Legend 1:54.7 ($720,710) who has won 17 to date including both the two and three year old divisions of the Austrlasian Breeders Crown (Group 1) The best horse I have seen would have to be Lord Module 1:54.9 ($251,750) At his peak he made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up with his speed and power. Harnesslink What have been some of the major changes that you think have been positive for the industry in your time. Brian West Two stand out for me. 1.) The DNA testing regime was a major step forward and made those mistakes of the past impossible. 2.) The other was the introduction of shuttle stallions which allowed the breeders in the southern hemisphere access to the best stallions in the world. Jack Rice, a USA lawyer and John Curtin had to fight tooth and nail to establish shuttle stallions and yet neither has ever had their contribution recognised which is a shame as we wouldn't be where we are today without their efforts. Harnesslink How do you see the future of harness racing and breeding in New Zealand. Brian West One of the major impediments to the future of the harness racing industry in New Zealand is the archaic governance structure that we have in this industry. The ‘Clubs’ run the industry in New Zealand. Clubs were set up to run race meetings and that should be their primary focus. The industry should be governed by a board of directors elected by industry participants, licence holders, breeders and owners. Such a board would free the industry from the glacial pace of change we have under the current structure. The other major problem that needs attention and soon is the lack of any incentives for people to breed. The number of mares bred this last breeding season was the lowest for 45 years and is in a downward spiral. The focus so far has been to increase stakes and that has been successful to a point but still the numbers of mares bred continues to decline. We need to incentivise the breeders to breed. There are several ways you can do that and there are several places overseas which run breeding incentive schemes. Which one would best meet the New Zealand industries needs further evaluation but one thing is certain, the French have it right, twelve and a half percent of every dollar earned is paid to the breeder. If we don't start to reward the people who produce the product that keeps our industry alive then we may not have an industry long term. Harnesslink Thanks for taking the time to speak to us Brian. It is much appreciated. Harnesslink media  

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