Based in the Gidgegannup, Australia, the Yarradale Stud Farm is the place to be at if you are looking for some great quality horses. Home to veteran champions like the War Chant, who calls the farm his permanent home now. This is a farm where you will find no lack of skill or the intent. Over the years they have delivered some of the best horses and placed themselves as a name to watch out for. A team that works like well-oiled machinery is manned by the very amazing Bernie Hamil, who we at the Secretariat’s World have called her the “Keeper of Knowledge” in our previous articles on her and we very well stand by it.
Bernadette ‘Bernie’ Hamill has been at the Yarradale Stud for a good 34 years now and in all these years she has climbed the steps of success at the farm on the basis of her exquisite talent and sheer hard work. Since being appointed the Stud Manager in 2004 she had been at the top of affairs at the farm and the farm’s success right now steeped in her dedication. Nothing that happens at the farm goes unnoticed. She took some time out for us from her extremely busy schedule to speak about the draft at this year's MM Perth Yearling Sale.
Q: You sold some excellent horses this year at the Perth Yearling Sales. Your top sales came from horses by War Chant. Could you please tell us more about him and the story behind these sales?
A: The War Chant (USA) progeny were well received at the Perth Magic Millions sale in February this year, helped by the winners the horse has produced in the last 12 months. Ron Sayers, principal of Yarradale Stud, had followed War Chant’s stud career in the United States for a number of years and had tried to purchase the horse from the owners and Three Chimneys in Kentucky where the horse stood, but the owners were reluctant to sell. Ron was, however, able to come to an agreement with Three Chimneys to shuttle the horse from America to Western Australia from 2011 to 2014. The owners agreed to sell the horse to use in the 2014 southern hemisphere season and obviously the horse has been here ever since. At the Perth Magic Millions Sales, Neville Parnham purchased the War Chant x Diamonds N Dreams for the owners of War Saint (War Chant x Ambers Halo), winner of the Gr.2 WATC Guineas.
The Diamonds N Dreams 2018 colt is a lovely, correct type, and the War Saint owners were keen to purchase another War Chant, and they had this horse earmarked well before the sale. We also sold a War Chant filly from the Quest For Fame mare Verse, who is a lovely filly and the family is very current with the Champion 2-year-old in Australia, Microphone boosting the pedigree. The War Chant filly sold by breeder Ellie Giles from the mare Brocky’s Ace topped the sale. The filly is a half-sister to the stakes winners Quilista (x Scandal Keeper [USA]) and Red Can Man (x Gingerbread Man), and we couldn’t have been happier for Ellie, who has been a strong supporter of Yarradale Stud stallions over the years. The filly was purchased by Attunga Stud’s Brian Nutt and bloodstock agent, Jim Clarke.
Q: How did you decide on the mating for the best outcome? How long do you normally take to plan and what is the process?
A: We are constantly reviewing our mare’s pedigrees and the types of foal they produce. Confirmation, temperament, racetrack performance and pedigree all figure in how we determine which mare visits which stallion. Obviously the budget has to be factored in as well as market trends. We start seriously considering the where the mares will go at the end of the previous season, for instance, we started planning for 2020 mares for the mares that foaled in 2019. The future of fillies off the track is dependent upon when they finish racing and what is going on in the pedigree at the time.
Q: In these difficult times, could you tell us how you are coping on the farm and what are the challenges you foresee coming up?
A: Life at the farm during this COVID 19 pandemic continues pretty much as normal, we are still in the process of halter breaking and weaning our 2019 crop of foals. We, like everyone else, have had to adapt our protocols to ensure the welfare of our horses and the health, safety and jobs of our staff. The biggest challenge ahead is the economy, given that we are producing a luxury item, and in these times, people’s priorities shift to protect the health and well being of their families, which is completely understandable. I predict a downturn in sales which will affect the number of mares we, and others, may breed in 2020. We have a number of long terms, loyal, staff and as conditions change we hope to be able to maintain as many jobs as possible. The team at the Thoroughbred Breeders Australia, led by Tom Reilly, are doing a fantastic job at liaising with the Australian government and keeping breeders as up to date as possible as conditions and regulations change rapidly. Racing Australia needs to be commended for maintaining racing in Australia, albeit with no patrons able to attend meetings. Australia’s distance from the rest of the world has benefits in times such as these, and our systems of government, from Federal to local level, are being very proactive in the face of this crisis.
Q: Your organisation offers a number of services. Could you please tell us more about the size of the farm and your agistment services as well as your racing partnerships?
A: Yarradale Stud at Gidgegannup is 350 acres, and we have another 80 acres under irrigation at Harvey, which is located two hours south of Gidgegannup. We use the Harvey property for resting broodmares and spelling racehorses. As we have so many of our own mares, we offer limited boarding for mares and will take clients foals through to sales for them. We manage all aspect of the breeding cycle for our clients from foaling down and getting mares back in foal, handling foals and yearling preparation. The farm often keeps shares in homebred yearlings we sell and race them with the new owners. In Australia, there has been a continual growth of owners who hold small shares in racehorses to spread the costs and enable people to gain the full experience of being an owner of a racehorse, and hopefully, the thrill of seeing their horse cross the line as a winner. The trainers generally buy the yearlings at public auction and then prospective owners approach the trainers to purchase shares in horses that appeal to them.
Q: The horses you sold this year, would you be able to tell us who will be training them and where do we see them racing?
A: Our yearlings were purchased by a number of trainers for the local market, Eastern State of Australia, and overseas market. Neville Parnham, Simon Miller, Durrant Racing, Morton Racing, Impressive Racing, Paul Jordan were among the local trainers who bought off us this year. The City Place x Single Spice colt was sold to Hong Kong, and two yearlings will race for the Thoroughbred Owners Association in Singapore, although I believe they may begin their racing careers in Perth before heading to Singapore, to enable them to take advantage of our lucrative owner's bonus scheme, Westspeed, run by Racing And Wagering Western Australia. The trainers will map out racing programmes for the horses depending on the horse’s level of maturity and the racing calendar itself.