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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

While Art Critic had little luck going into Fridays big race for the fillies and mares at Addington Raceway, there was a real confidence in the camp when she came up with the ace draw for the 1950m. She was able to leave the gate on terms with the field, but John Dunn made an early call to hand up the lead to second favourite Lovetodream. With 1400m to go, Dexter Dunn came with a searching run with Lightning Mach to take the lead, but there was no panic from John who realised with the hot pace the gaps would come. In what was a race defining move, he was able to push off the rail at the 850m, shunting breeze horse Tintinara wider and allowing Art Critic to apply pressure to the leader. As they turned for home she quickly surged to the front and under John's urgings, she went to the line strongly to win by a length in 2.20.7 for the 1950m, a mile rate of 1.56, home in 800m 56.5 and 400m 29.1. Owned by Studholme Bloodstock and the McDonald Racing Syndicate Limited, Art Critic has always looked a mare headed for better things. However, in her first three starts this campaign she was bereft of any real luck. That was until yesterday when having made her own luck she was able to head home a very good field, with New Years Jay rattling home from the back for second and Happy Heidi putting in one of her late runs for third. Yesterday's win was the 4th from 19 starts for the lighly raced Art Major mare. She appeals as a horse that will only get better with age and it will be no surprise to see her tackling the top mares races at some point. Robert Dunn Racing Stables   -   Check site here

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  

Leading New Zealand breeder Brian West is having one of those dream runs that all breeders dream about but rarely achieve. Everywhere you looked lately, a horse bred by Brian's Studholme Park is winning somewhere in the world. Last week Dream Out Loud was the center of attention as he won in 1:48.4 in North America.  This week Brian's eyes will be firmly focused on the final of the $100,000 Pearl Classic in Perth in which another of his sales graduates in The Odd Lover will start a warm favourite. Brian's breeding arm Studholme Park bred The Odd Lover in partnership with a long time client in Neville Tilsley. Bought out of last years Premier sale in Christchurch for $35,000 by leading Western Australian trainer /driver Kim Prentice on behalf of leading W/A owner Robert Watson, The Odd Lover has stamped himself as something special from his first start. The winner of three of his four lifetime starts, The Odd Lovers only defeat came at the hands of the outstanding filly, Tricky Styx 1:57.3 ($110,438). Drawn out wide at six in his Pearl heat, The Odd Lover looped the field after 500 meters to lead and was untroubled from there to win comfortably in a 1:58.2mr for the 2138 meters with closing sectionals of 56.9 and 28.2. Like two of Art Major's leading sons in New Zealand in Isaiah and Messini, The Odd Lover races without an overcheck and has a low head carry. It won't come as a surprise to students of breeding that the The Odd Lover is showing so much potential as he is bred in the purple. By Australias leading sire in Art Major, The Odd Lover is the first foal from a Bettor's Delight daughter of the former age group star Under Cover Lover 1;51.8 ($864,923). It is a maternal family that continues to star on both sides of the Tasman. Brian West will be hoping that The Odd Lover can add to Studholme Park's great recent run of success by taking out the Pearl final on Friday night. The Odd Lover NZ winning his heat of The Pearl Tuesday the 3rd of June. Harnesslink media

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