While a few breeders are scaling down and getting out of the industry it’s refreshing to know that some are trying their hand at this fickle part of the business and even more refreshing to know that there are some younger breeders getting into the game.
That’s the case with Brittany Willis and Haig McGorlick of Tisbury just out of Invercargill.
Neither has history or heritage in the game but neverth less they’re giving both breeding and training a go – albeit on a small scale.
Brittany got her first taste of horses at a young age while she was at primary school.
“We had school days where they had pony rides. You could do sewing, cooking or pony riding. I was away sick on the day everyone got to choose and I got put in sewing. I wasn’t domesticated at all so I used to sneak out of class and sit by the pony rides. I became obsessed and got offered this pony for the school holidays for two weeks at Christmas. Two weeks turned into six weeks which turned into three months and six months later we bought the pony,” she said.
She soon joined Pony Club and competed there and at Eventing fixtures before becoming a groom for friends who had showjumpers.
“I became hooked, I got my first standardbred as a hack at 18 and just fell in love with the breed.”
She then experienced her first taste of standardbreds while working at Tom Kilkelly stables for a couple of month when she was 20.
“I also did a bit of standardbred rehoming. I’ve been doing that off and on for the last seven years.”
In 2010 both she and Haig moved to Perth Western Australia, chasing the mining money.
“I was sick of my job and we wanted to do something different so we got jobs in the mining industry there. We didn’t have horses for a while but got in toe with Graham Bond, a family friend and the rest in history.”
Bond is currently working at 430 acre Allwood Stud Farm in WA where Follow The Stars and Tinted Cloud stand.
He trained in Drummond in Southland for a good number of years before moving to Rakaia then onto West Australia. He was a regular buyer of horses out of New Zealand which he trained in Perth.
One such purchase was J Walker which was bought out of the Geoff Small stable. Bond, Willis and McGorlick shared in the ownership of the Christian Cullen gelding which won eight races before he was sold on.
Their next venture was to purchase Kamwood Girl a young Courage Under Fire mare who’d retired after winning eleven races in Australia.
“Bondy found her actually. He said – I’ve found this broodmare. Do you want to go halves. Before that we had no desire to breed. He then decided he wanted out so he could focus on other horses he had, so we own her now.”
So with a broodmare in toe the next step required a bit of luck.
“I bought a ticket in the Western Australian Standardbred Breeders stallion service raffle and won the service to Art Major and that’s where this horse came from. It was huge. It was to promote breeding in Western Australian which we didn’t do because we got her (Kamwood Girl) in foal and sent her back to New Zealand. We were pretty lucky and it was a good start for us.”
Returning home the couple have set up a small stable at Brittany’s parents five acre property at Tisbury and in a few weeks they take over land with a house next door which has seven acres of land.
Brittany has also taken out a training licence and has rented a couple of boxes and a paddock at Ascot Park.
She has just the two horses in work. Cullect Alot is a three year old filly that’s been broken and is just starting in work. She’s by Gotta Go Cullect out of Wren A lot, an unraced Sir Vancealot mare which is out of the five win Admiral Halsey mare Royal Wren. She’s owned by Graham Bond.
Her other horse is two year old Foveaux Major – the foal the couple bred by sending Kamwood Girl to Art Major. So the numbers are small at this stage but you’ve got to start somewhere.
Brittany has also sent up an equestrian business called Foveaux Equestrian.
She imports Kentaur products which are a high end equestrian range from the Czech Republic, for which she is the exclusive New Zealand agent. She also sells Red Light Therapy products.
“They’re a high end product. It is a limited market. 90 per cent of our business has been from Canterbury north mainly online but we also go to horse shows and do trade stands.”
She’s also a qualified Equine Bowen Therapist after completing a two year course at Smart Bowen International in Melbourne.
“I started to get Bowen Therapy done on myself when I had back problems and found it to be absolutely amazing. I thought if it was good for me I wondered if we could get it done on our racehorses. I found someone who did Equine Bowen Therapy and the results on our horses were fantastic so it inspired me to study it.”
Their ties to racing horses in WA haven’t gone away either and Willis and McGorlick still have a twenty percent interest in Dame Puissant a well performed race mare in Western Australia.
She’s by Tintin In America out of Glenferrie Magic and was owned by Trackside presenter Matt Cross and junior driver Kimberley Butt.
She qualified as a two year old and was sold by the pair. From twenty two starts she’s won five races, and has been placed second and third twice.
As a two year old she ran third in the Group Three Two Year Old Fillies Gold Bracelet at Gloucester Park and at three finished third in the 2016 Group One West Australian Oaks.
She’s trained by Robbie Williams.
Their broodmare band has also expanded and they have three mares on their books.
The two other mares they own are Kamwood Beauty and Hennessey Franco.
Kamwood Beauty is an unraced American Ideal mare out of the five win In The Pocket mare Kamwood Diva. She’s a half-sister to Real Kamwood which won five races for Paul Kerr.
Hennessey Franco is by Red River Hanover out of Heather Franco. She’s a half-sister to Franco Hat Trick which won eleven races here, another nineteen in Australia before being a big winner in America. His biggest stake days in Australia were memorable. He won the $120,000 Nissan Chariots of Fire and he ran second to Our Sir Vancelot in the 1998 $100,000 Group One Australian Pacing Championship at Albion Park.
Hennessey Franco was bought by McGorlick for $400 at this year’s PGG Wrightson All Age Sales in foal to Tintin In America.
“Initially we were breeding to sell but with the unraced mares they are less commercial. With Kamwood Girl we are breeding to sell but the other two – we’ll see what happens.”
This young couple, who recently sold a Washington VC yearling colt out of Kamwood Girl for good money, are working hard to establish a foothold in Southern breeding circles and it’s great to see.