Dave and Dawn Kennedy

The Double Ds of the South

Dave and Dawn Kennedy have had a lifetimes involvement in breeding and racing Standardbreds.

Dave has also been an active breeder and seller of Border Leicester sheep and is now a dairy farmer so his interest in quality livestock has been wide and varied.

When you scan through the Kennedy’s list of standardbred winners it’s extensive.

Themightyquinn, winner of 58 races and $5,520,055, tops an impressive winners list.

Dave and good friend Wayne Pierce bred Mighty Khan (Genghis Khan – Cash Asset) which won seven races here and in Australia before heading to America. In the States he won twenty one races, pacing a mile in 1-51.6. They also bred Happy Asset (14 wins and $783,453) out of Cash Asset and he won the Auckland and Franklin Cups.

The long list of winners began back in the 70’s when Dave got his first horse Wave Eyre (Honest Master/Airini) at the age of 15. It was purchased by his father Bill at the 1972 Christchurch Yearling Sales for $2,000. and it was this mare that formed the foundation to what is part of the Beaudiene breed today.

The Kennedys own a 198 hectare farm at Bayswater near Otautau in Southland. 178 hectares is dedicated to their 500 cow dairy operation while the remaining 20 hectares is their horse block.

“We keep a few sheep and beef calves to keep the horse paddocks clean and stop worm burden build up.  This keeps the pastures in better quality.  All broodmares are wintered off farm after weaning,” said Dave.

The other branch of the Beaudiene breed comes from Masters Girl.

“She was the first mare I bought. The first yearling I took to Christchurch (1983) was a nice looking filly By Honkin Andy out of Masters Girl. John Seaton bought her for $1,600. She didn’t come too much.”

Masters Girl’s biggest winner was Beaudiene Fella which won four races for Winton owner Keith Moore and trainer Tony Stevens.

Wave Eyre’s left good winners Beaudiene Byrd (5 wins) and Beaudiene Scott (5 wins) – the first two horses Dave Kennedy ever raced. But the source of most of Kennedy’s biggest winners came from a Nat Lobell mare – daughter of Wave Erye, Beaudiene Lobell. She didn’t win a race but left Beaudiene Debtor (Cadillac) which won two races. She’s the dam of Beaudiene Babe the mother of Beaudiene Bad Babe, Beaudiene Beaufighta, and Beaudiene Boaz.

Beaudiene Boaz is their latest star. His recent win in the Freemantle Cup took his earnings to $942,104. He’s won 21 of his 28 starts, and he’s shaping up to be the breed’s next millionaire.

The Kennedys have been regular suppliers to the National Yearling Sales in Christchurch and each year they generally prepare 6 to 8 yearlings. Preparation starts to get serious 10 weeks prior to the sales.

“When foals are weaned they are well handled.  We ensure that they can tie up and lead and their legs are roped. They are then also put on the jogging frame. Its good experience for them, good to burn up energy as they’re very well fed and it helps to build muscle not fat.”

Over the years the Kennedys have taken lots of yearlings to the sales. The standouts have been obvious however there have been a couple of horses that didn’t tick all the boxes but still developed into nice racehorses.

“Mighty Khan didn’t look much, and had a very long coat.  He wasn’t very big but developed into a lovely horse and even though not big, he made up for his size on the racetrack.”

To compliment the rich Southland pasture Kennedy provides his mare and foals with supplements.

“We feed our mares Prydes Bio Mare cubes and NRM Breeding& McMillian Rapid Gain pre foaling, and after foaling continue to feed which encourages the foals to learn to eat and this eventually makes the foals easy to transition when weaned.  They are fed during the winter, stop in spring and start again when prep begins.”

It’s not just the breeding that the Kennedy’s are committed to. They are also actively involved in some of the key organisations behind the promotion of the industry in the south.

Dawn’s been involved in horses all her life. She’s Vice President of the Winton Show and Convenor of the Horse Section, is a Grade One Equestrian Judge, judging throughout New Zealand at A&P Shows and is President of the Southland Robin Dundee Club.

Dave is past President of NZSBA, past President of SSBA and still an active committee member, Chairman of the Southland Oaks and Supremacy Committee which also runs the Southern Bell Series.

He’s also one of the founding members of Southern Bred Southern Reared and says the tour run for buyers is key to influencing the selling bench at the sales.

“The SBSR tour is the best thing we’ve ever done there’s no doubt about that. You get the main buyers arriving on your doorstep. They see your place and see what you’ve done and what your horses look like.”

So what type of stallion does Kennedy see as being a possible a dominant player in the New Zealand market?

“I think a son of Somebeachsomewhere is going to take over. He’s got all the daughters of Bettor’s Delight and Art Major (to serve). The only mares he can’t serve are the Mach Three mares.”

The culling of mares can sometimes be a difficult decision but Kennedy says he is looking at breeding from fewer mares and targeting the top end of the market.

“When they’re 17 or 18 I’m quite happy for someone else to take them over and breed from them. I think buyers like to buy yearlings from younger mares.”

With the top end of the market come the pressures of auction day and there have been a couple of occasions when the Bayswater breeder has felt nervous.

“I must admit I was shaking at the knees when Highflyin Fella and Beaudiene Beaufighta sold.”

Highflyin Fella was bought by John Lischner for $95,000 at the 2002 Yearling Sales in Christchurch; a price that was bettered only by Classic Flyer ($100,000), Tango Tango ($100,000) and Gemside ($100,000). He had thirteen starts as a two and three year old here for five minor placings before being exported to Australia in 2004 where he won nineteen races from 125 starts.

Highflyin Fella was by In The Pocket out of the Holmes Hanover mare Brilliant Franco. The Kennedys are still breeding from Brilliant Franco and one of her daughters Divine Dive (Mach Three).

Beaudiene Beaufighta sold for $140,000 at the 2014 sale.

Dave and Dawn are taking eight horses to the sale next month. Five of their own and three owned by Cleland Murdoch.

“We have a very nice Somebeachsomewhere filly out of Beaudiene Maja Babe who is a nice strong two year old type.  The dam is a half-sister to Beaudiene Bad Babe, Beaudiene Boaz and Beaudiene Beaufighta. Also we have a very attractive athletic type filly by Well Said out of Beaudiene Quick Chic.

They’re also breeding from the ‘Pay Me’ breed.

“The smoky in the sale would be a lovely Shadow Play colt out of Pay Me Girl.  A real speedy come early looking type.”

Over the years Dave and Dawn Kennedy have bred some outstanding yearlings and they hope to continue to breed more sale toppers from a smaller group of quality mares. They are also in the process of forming a syndicate to race some of their well-bred fillies including a two year old filly by Bettor’s Delight out of Beaudiene Babe.

They’re great team, and no doubt the Kennedy and Beaudiene names will continue to feature at sales and on raceday.