Macca Lodge’s Brent McIntyre has been around horses all his life and is still living the dream.
It hasn’t been easy at times but he and wife Sheree have survived the lows of farming and also experienced the boom – and that’s helped.
Brent was born to be involved in horses. However Sheree is a city girl who’s been a nurse for most of her working life.
His racing interest goes back to his grandfather Davey who owned a few nice horses including Embark which won the Wairio Cup when driven by his father’s uncle, Jock McDonald.
Brent’s father Graeme also trained horses and drove in the first ever Roxburgh Cup at Gore when he was 18.
“Old Davey Todd used to duck shoot over home with my grandfather. When we were kids Cardigan Bay was our hero. He was a good old bugger old Davey and you used to get a whole lot of good stories out of him when you were kids. I got the bug when I was a wee kid,” said Brent.
Up until recently Brent has spent most of this working life mixing farming, horses, shearing and being a freezing worker. He spent three years doing the night shift at the Makarewa Freezing Works and another twelve years at Blue Sky Meats. And he shore sheep for six to seven years.
“That’s what you had to do in those days.”
And it was while he was at the works that he got his first horse.
“I was working in the boning room at Makarewa in those days. It was full of harness boys. Murray Brown, Andy Laidlaw, Ron McEwan and Donny McRae, and all those guys. Ron said he’d been down at Ascot Stud and looked at a horse by Majestic Chance and he thought there was one there that I should buy. Grant Shirley actually owned it. He (Grant) was only a young lad then and so was I – both in our twenties. Anyway I went down there and knocked on the door and Gil (Gil Shirley owner of Ascot Stud) came to the door. I said I just called in to make an offer on that horse. He said ‘offer, there’ll be no offers. It’s Grants horse and its fifteen hundred dollars.’ I said righto.”
The name of the horse was Silver Blue (Sonny Silver – Blue Chance) which qualified and started fourteen times but was unplaced.
“It had a crook back. I know what was wrong with it now, but at the time I was too inexperienced to know.”
At that time Brent and Sheree farmed four hundred acres at Tussock Creek and times were pretty tough.
“You were living to keep your name on the mailbox. When the dairy boom happened it made it all worthwhile. We were sheep farming. I worked through that era and I thought I was going to get out earlier but then something would go wrong and I had to stay another few years. When the dairy boom happened, property was worth a dollar and we had a bit of equity.”
Transzan was the first horse Brent and Sheree bred. She was by Transport Chip out of the Hi Foyle mare Hi There.
And it’s from Transzan that they bred one of their foundation mares Just Jazzan.
“Trist Mist was going well at the time and she was by Transport Chip out of a Knowing Bret mare so we bred Transzan to Knowing Bret – reverse breeding – and got Just Jazzan.”
As a racehorse Just Jazzan was initially trained by Graeme McIntyre before Brent took over. She provided Brent with his first winner at Invercargill in 1992 and won a total of six races. As a broodmare she only left two live foals. The first Bonnie Lass won ten races and is still being bred from at Macca Lodge.
It was while they were at Tussock Creek that Brent spotted that the Northern Southland breeding establishment Jaccka Lodge was on the market.
“Charlie’s (Charlie Smaill) place came up and we decided to have a go. I thought that would be more interesting than sheep because I’d had a gutsful of them. When we put the tender in there were two people with the same amount. A dairy farmer and us. If the others had got it, the place would have basically been pulled down and converted to dairy. Obviously Charlie didn’t want that to happen and we ended up getting it.”
So in 2008 Brent and Sheree embarked on a new adventure renaming Jaccka Lodge Macca Lodge.
A few years later, friend and fellow breeder John Stiven suggested that McIntyre should get into the stallion business and Panspacificflight came on the radar.
“I’d read about him. He’d been quite a nice horse early on but he broke down. I just rang up the owners and left a message. I got a phone call about a week later from Jacob Millar. He said ‘did you realise that I’m Amish?’ I said ‘no – what’s that?’ (laughter) and he explained. I said that’s fine – it doesn’t worry me. We ended up doing a hand shake deal over the phone!!! I’d been talking to Max Bowden about doing the deal on stallions and he said make sure you get it signed up or they’ll nail you to the floor. So I said to Jacob ‘do you want me to send over some papers and get things signed up?’ He said ‘no – your word is your word.”
The following year McIntyre with Stiven and Mark O’Connor went to North America, met Jacob Millar, had a good look around and attended the North American Cup.
He freely admits that it hasn’t been easy for Panspacificflight but in amongst his small crop numbers he has left some nice horses. These include Last Flight In
(1-53.8 AUS), Wick (1-52.8 USA), Arden’s Choice (7 New Zealand wins and $282,296), The Manipulator (4 New Zealand wins), Straight Thru Blue (6 Australian wins), Southern Pursuit (4 New Zealand wins), Little Rascal (8 New Zealand wins and 2 Australian) and Glenisla (10 wins Australia). McIntyre says he generally gets between twenty five to thirty mares each season.
“He’s actually done quite a good job. He was North America Two Year Old Sire of the Year with his first crop. But here he was up against the likes of Bettors Delight and Art Major and people don’t like going outside the square. We’ve done alright. He got thirty (mares) last year and twenty the year before that. When you haven’t got the numbers it’s a struggle.”
McIntyre said it was while travelling through North America that he secured the services of Net Ten EOM. The Somebeachsomewhere stallion is out of Glowing Report which was the Older Pacing Mare Of The Year in America in 2006. As a racehorse Net Ten EOM had a limited race career but paced a mile in 1-49.4. As a stallion he’s off to a great start in the Northern Hemisphere. At the time of writing he’s had six individual two year old winners from his first crop.
“We’re getting some good reports on them down here too. Once you teach them something they remember. We’ve found that they’re quite intelligent horses, good gaited and athletic. There’s not many of them on the ground. John Stiven’s got a nice filly that Mark Smolenski broke in and he thinks the world of it. It’s going up to Barry Purdons. We’ll find out how good it is somewhere down the track.”
The name of the filly is Countess Arden (Net Ten EOM – Young Tegan).
A recent addition to Macca Lodge is one of Southland’s favourite sons Franco Ledger. He won twenty five races and $682,514. and will stand at Macca Lodge this coming season for free.
“He’s got six or seven booked in already. We have to train him up (to serve mares). Bill Keeler’s going to come down and give me a hand.”
McIntyre says the population at Macca Lodge has also grown in the last year, since nearby Kina Craig Stud closed down with his property taking on an extra 100 mares.
After going through a few gloomy years Brent believes that things are looking pretty good in the South for the coming seasons.
“This is the most positive year that I’ve gone into since I started, with the stakes going up. Everyone’s rowing the boat in the same direction down here.”
He also says now is the time to buy a broodmare with some nice mares coming on the market, particulary in the middle range.
“People have been getting out of it (breeding) so there’s the odd plum to be picked here and there. The real top end mares still demand pretty good money though.”
In the last few years Macca Lodge itself has invested in some good families.
Brent recently bought Asajah, a Christian Cullen mare out of an Artsplace mare which is closely related to Elsu. Her only foal of racing age is Shenandoah a Somebeachsomewhere filly.
“She (Asajah) has all the great broodmare sires all the way through. She leaves nice types. Her first foal didn’t win a race last season but was placed a couple of times in Group Ones.”
Hot Toddy is another under the Macca Lodge name. She’s a young Falcon Seelster mare out of the thirteen win Live Or Die mare Lady Toddy.
“Sheree ended up buying her. I didn’t know about it. The boys that owned her decided to pull the pin and Hot Toddy was in foal to Pans so Sheree did the deal. I actually drove Hot Toddy one day when I was up at Ken Barrons. I thought she was pretty smart. It stuck in my mind.”
They’ve also bought some of the stock from the Cummings family of Lawrence when they culled some of their mares at Tuapeka Lodge.
These include young Christian Cullen mare Gracy Lady which is out of Spring Thaw. She has only one foal on the ground – an American Ideal colt called Hindu Pocket which is owned locally by the Thomson Brothers of Branxholme.
Another from Tuapeka Lodge is Lillian, a Falcon Seelster mare. Her biggest winner is Caesars Folly the winner of thirty two races in Australia including the Gold Coast Derby.
They also bought Raconteur which is the dam of Talkerup and Ask Again.
Buying stock off Tuapeka Lodge isn’t new to McIntyre. He bought Albert Albert mare Jamie off the Cummings family in the early 2000s. She went on to win seven races and still holds the Winton and Southland record for 2400 metres stand (mares) of 2-57.2.
Another mare he recently bought was Lollipop Dreams – a Dream Away mare that’s closely related to Sweet Talking Man and Stylish Sweetheart.
So as spring approaches there are plenty of Macca mares ready to produce the next generation of racehorses.
Bonnie Lass (Sweet Lou), Gracy Lady (Art Major) Hot Toddy (Changeover), Jamie (Net Ten EOM), Lillian (Panspacificflight), Lollipop Dreams (Betterthancheddar), Mach N Elle (American Ideal), Nifety Franco (Sweet Lou), Raconteur (Mach Three), Shipshewana Flight (Net Ten EOM), Traceys Delight (Sweet Lou), Art For Artsplace (Panspacificflight) and Mama Cool (Panspacificflight).
And after a few years of trying different things at Macca Lodge including a ready to run sale, there’s been a shift in philosophy this season.
McIntyre says he’s now going to send his top end mares to the best stallions, while the other mares will be served by Macca Lodge stallions with an eye to breaking their progeny in, getting them running along and leasing or selling them.
“That’s what we’re going to do from now on. I used to be ruthless then I became not so ruthless, but I’m back on the drafting gate now. The horses have got to be that good now. We like to dabble around with them. Caine (their son) will get his (training) license shortly and we’ll go into partnership. We looked at getting them running along and sending them to other trainers but we’ve decided to do them ourselves. We’ll just employ someone in the breeding season to help and take turns at going to the races with the horses. It’s quite good to get off the place.”
And McIntyre says Caine has become an integral part of the operation.
“He’s in partnership on the place now but I’m still breaking him in (laughter). He’s really good on the stud side of it and he’s getting better with the training and driving.”
As the ten year anniversary of the formation of Macca Lodge approaches, Brent McIntyre and his family continue to develop and grow their operation with positive commitment to harness racing in Southland.