Keith and Tracey Norman

The Brydone Breeding Bonanza

Bryleigh Stud’s Keith and Tracey Norman get a lot of satisfaction out of tracking the progeny of their stallion Washington VC.

The Normans have been in harness racing all of their lives. Keith’s father Les was a very good horseman and won the Southland Trainers Premierships in 1965, 1966, 1967 and 1969. He trained Majestic Charger which won 13 races as well as many other good winners. Both Keith and Tracey enjoyed driving success with Keith driving 49 winners. However breeding was to be their greatest interest.

Their first venture into this side of the industry came when they borrowed Key Lady off Blake Eskdale and bred a three quarter brother to Jay Bees Fella.

Their first broodmare was Surprise Me. She was by Sir Dalrae out of True Surprise and was trained by Les Norman and both Keith and Tracey drove her. Tracey won on her at Forbury Park in January 1985.

After a while they moved into the stud business operating on 108 acres at Brydone.

Their first stallion was Son Of Afella which made a strong impression on both the Southland and New Zealand breeding scene. He left cup grade horses Bogan Fella (16 wins) and Jay Bee’s Fella (13 wins) and 1998 Dominion Handicap winner Cedar Fella (17 wins).

He was followed by less successful Niatross horse The Gladiator.

“I bought Son Of Afella for a group of Eastern Southland breeders. After that I bought The Gladiator but he was a big horse and wasn’t a commercial success. Then I thought I’d go upmarket and look for an average sized stallion that had won races and had a good mile time that I could afford,” said Keith.

Using an agent, he managed to secure the services of Presidential Ball stallion Washington VC.

“He won the Adios and was lame in the heat but still went out in the afternoon and won the final. He only had one more start after that.”

Retaining a half share, the Normans then gathered a group of mainly southern breeders to take the other half.

Thus the Washington VC syndicate was formed, made up of Peter McKnight (Manager), Brendon McLellan, Alex Milne, Syd Brown, Brian West, Malcolm Hunter, Brian Norman, Mark O’Connor, Murray Tapper, Daryl Trainor, Barry Barber and Arthur Clark.

“He was paid off many years ago. The syndicate have well and truly doubled their money.”

Washington VC to date has served 16 seasons in the breeding barn. Nine of those seasons he’s served over 100 mares. His busiest season was 2004 when he served 195 mares.

Horses sired by him have started 7,586 times for 608 wins and earned $6,680,295 in stakes – the biggest by far being I’m Themightyquinn.

One of his sons the Normans feel didn’t reach his full potential was I’m Victorious. He won 22 of his 33 starts including the Group One Sky Racing West Australian Derby. Unfortunately he was injured during the running of the 2014 Interdominion Final ending his racing career.

However the story doesn’t stop there, with one of the stud’s latest arrivals causing a real stir.

The foal is of course by Washington VC and out of Love Sign – therefore a full brother to I’m Themightyquinn.

“Dave Kennedy bred I’m Themightyquinn, Themightynadal and Themightykendall from her (Love Sign). He missed getting her in foal for the next couple of years. We got her back in foal again but she had a dead one. He wasn’t having much luck so he told me she was available so I said I’d give her a home for life. We were allowed to breed from her. She had this foal in February.”

Love Sign who’s by Soky’s Atom is 23, but certainly doesn’t look it.

“She’s in fantastic health. We didn’t serve her this year but will try next season.”

Keith and Tracey are proud of Washington VC’s feats and his stock have also proved to be popular in Australia.

“If you go to the workouts or trials someone will phone you if the horse is any good. They win races and the Aussie owners come back next year and try and do the same thing again.”

Keith is also quick to point out that Washington VC has been successful across 100 different broodmare sires and has left 28 group winners. He’s also hopeful that there’s more to come.

“Son Of Afella served mares until he was 24 so every day with this horse is a bonus. The number of mares is trimming back naturally now. He’s got 42 mares this year so you don’t have to turn any away.”

Washington VC is also proving a success as the sire of good broodmares.

Recent big time winners Locharburn and Field Marshall are both out of Washington mares.

The Normans have no plans to purchase any more stallions. But the enjoyment of tracking Washington VC’s career as the most successful stallion to stand in Southland in recent times, will continue for some time yet at Brydone HQ.