The Rise of Studholme Bloodstock
Brian West, the founder of Studholme Bloodstock, first developed an interest in harness racing when he was 13, and bought his first horse when he was 22.
His next step was to build a base of breeding stock from dispersal sales, with the idea of trading up when he could.
He looked for advice on the way through, and got it from such respected horsemen as Jim Dalgety, Alec Purdon and Des Callahan.
In 1986 he established Yonkers Breeding Partnership with four close friends which was ‘floated’ with the aim of breeding at the top end of the yearling market. 100 investors joined up. The partnership purchased the bloodstock. But just when the project was advancing nicely, the government of the day surprised the industry by completely changing the tax structure for bloodstock. This compromised the financial viability of Yonkers; the result was the sale of the bloodstock over a three year period.
In the same year, Brian set up the Club Classic Syndicates as an outlet for some of the bloodstock.
The first syndicate was made up of seven horses and they were placed with seven different trainers. Having trouble selecting the seventh horse for the package, trainer Robert Dunn was asked to look at a group of horses owned by the syndicate and, surprisingly chose a small, plain looking son of Stampede.
This was Defoe, 1.53 ($423,372). Importantly, it gave the syndicate credibility. The base at the time was the old Watties farm on Shands Road, and Michael House was employed to handle the pre-training of the syndicate horses, with favourable results.
When the wind-up of Yonkers Breeding Partnership occurred, a few of the investors wanted to start again. This resulted in the 100 original investors being offered the opportunity to be involved; about 10 per cent took up the offer, and from that came Yonkers Breeding Partnership (1989).
“We purchased the best pedigreed mares from the original Yonkers portfolio,” said West.
The Partnership lasted for 12 years, and a profit was made every year. This was a high achievement considering the very difficult times for the industry in New Zealand. In 2001 most of the investors were reaching retirement age and as they wished to free up some cash, the decision was made to sell up.
The bloodstock was then valued and purchased by Studholme Park which in 2003 became Studholme Bloodstock Ltd, in effect taking over the bloodstock owned by Studholme Park.
While running the business from the Watties site, Brian decided to downsize the breeding operation to give him more leisure time and with a developer offering to purchase the property, he looked for new premises.
At Coes Ford he found it.
Not that he fell for it at once. A real estate friend told him to look past the run-down double-storied house and the outbuildings and see the future in the rest. Originally, the purchase was only 70 acres, but when an adjoining property became available, the farm size grew to 300 acres.
The farm is a gem: 10-acre paddocks, and all with shelter from the easterly and southerly winds.
The earthquakes destroyed the main house (built in 1863) but Brian has restored the other buildings, including the 14-box mews, the two-story stable complex and refurbished a small cottage which is now his home.
The stocking rate of the farm varies from time to time, but usually the horses number 100 and cattle 200.
“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,” he says.
Although having been approached several times over the years to take outside clients, Studholme Bloodstock owns and maintains most of the stock itself, with a small number of breeding arrangements with friends on a 50/50 basis, as well as racing some fillies.
Those involved include Peter Smith and Winky Foley (Kahukuri Bloodstock), Neville Tilsley, Mike Jefferies, Mike and Sue Grainger (Grainger Partnership), John Purvis (Grassy Meadows Farm), Philippa Hanley, Graham Gimblett..
Some of Brian’s best to race: Secret Potion, 1.57.5, $285,312, who won both the Great Northern Oaks (Group 1) and the Nevele R Fillies Final (Group 1); Lancome, 1.54.9, $461,278, winner of 13 including the Harness Jewels 4yo Diamond (Group 1); and best bred the champion LAZARUS ($4,418,000) and BIT OF A LEGEND ($2,522,513)
Lazarus A Bit Of A Legend