With more than 40 years under his belt. Russell Warwick is a true blue veteran of the sport. His eye for detail is virtually unmatched when it comes to selecting horses for his farm. Working in the various farm before venturing out and forming Westbury Stud with Eric Watson, Russell has developed some rare skills for the trade.
Westbury Stud is well known for the size and quality of their drafts every year, and they very vehemently credit every member of their team for their success. Russell once mentioned, ‘it is important to encourage and grow people in the industry’. They invest very slowly in training and creating career pathways of their team, and that effort reflects every single time you lay your eyes on their drafts.
Just like last year, this year
Q: Yours is one of the most significant drafts in this sale. Could you please tell us more about your selection (how many horses, how many colts and how many fillies, what ages etc.) and tell us in a bit greater depth about the pedigree, type, physical attributes etc. about your highlight lots. (Kindly provide photos /videos of your highlight lots as well)
A: We have 21 colts/geldings and 12 fillies – all two-year-olds - with a vast range of sires including Tavistock, Vancouver, Makfi, Swiss Ace, Reliable Man, All Too Hard, Casino Prince, Redwood, El Roca, Red Giant and Press Statement.
High-class sire Makfi has three very beautiful horses in the draft, the first is out of the Redoute’s Choice mare The First Lady. It comes from a stellar Australian family which has produced Mrs Onassis, Aussies Love Sport, Miss Judgement, Missrock, and Fifth Avenue Lady. He is a long-striding horse with good speed and has a superb pedigree. The second of the Makfi horses are out of the Elusive Quality mare Inara Belle who is a half-sister to Champion 2YO and Karaka Million winner Ruud Awakening. The third of the geldings is the son of Lupara (Encosta de Lago) who is bred on the same cross as Champion 3YO Filly Sofia Rosa, who is a robust well-balanced individual.
Swiss Ace has been a popular sire with the Asian market, and he has a lovely gelding out of the Belong to Me mare Musically, making him a full brother to the talented Von Trapp and comes from a speedy family which has produced Group winners Magically, and Magic Music. Swiss Ace has the smart performers Little Giant and Ugly Warrior featuring as two of Hong Kong’s better sprinters at the moment.
Reliable Man, the sire of current NZ Oaks winner Sentimental Miss, has a good selection of horses in the draft with the filly out of Zuzela (Redoute’s Choice) appealing as a right staying type while the gelding from Lady’s Wish looks a precocious type.
High Chaparral’s son Redwood also has a broad selection of horses in the draft and the gelding from Dunbarton (Encosta de Lago) is a half-brother to two talented performers in Australia at the moment in Duchess of Lennox and Leven Lass, while his second dam is the Champion racemare Tartan Tights (NZ 1000 Guineas & NZ Oaks).
Q: How did you handpick horses? Could you please tell us more about your process? If you breed the horses, how do you plan the matings/ pedigree cross?
A: We plan all of our matings using a combination of physicality, genetic compatibility, and commercial appeal to produce an athletic individual who can aspire to become a quality racehorse. We breed a large number of horses and look to identify our Ready to Run prospects some 18 months in advance, growing them out during this time and having them broken in and pre-trained with plenty of time as they head towards the Ready to Run Sale.
Q: How did you get involved in the thoroughbred breeding industry? Please tell us more about the history and the size & facilities of your farm. If you hadn't chosen to breed as a career, what else would you have done?
A: I have been involved in the breeding industry for more than forty years and had the privilege of working at some great farms including Cambridge Stud, Windsor Park Stud, and Blandford Lodge before starting my own business Westbury Farm (now named Westbury Stud). I was involved with prominent owner racing owner Eric Watson before Australian businessman Gerry Harvey purchased the company ten years ago and has built the broodmare band to some 300 mares.
The current Westbury Stud property extends across three separate parks, the head office and 260 acres at Karaka, 30 minutes south of the CBD of Auckland; the remaining two features (totalling 525 acres) in Matamata in the heart of the New Zealand breeding industry.
I studied accountancy during my education, but the moment I was introduced to the thoroughbred I was mesmerized with the animal, it’s intelligence, and the felt the magnetism horse racing has over those fascinated by the business ……. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else with my life.
Q: Please tell us about the most expensive horse you ever sold? When you sold him was the horse sold to people who knew you and realised these were great horses? If not, what happened?
A: The most expensive horse sold from Westbury was a son of Zabeel named Stand Tall who made $625,000 back in 2003, while more recently we have had a High Chaparral filly make $500,000 in 2015, a Savabeel colt sold for A$440,000 I n2017 and a Reliable Man colt make A$400,000 in 2018.
These horses were all very good physical types and one would hope that our success on the track with the likes of Bonneval, Sofia Rosa, Music Magnate, Ruud Awakening, Il Quello Veloce, Buzz Lightyear, Miss Mossman, Sedecrem and company provides buyers with confidence when purchasing horses from the farm.
Q: Could you please tell us more about your successful graduates from the Ready2Race sales you have participated in during the last few years.
A: Initially we did not sell horses regularly at the Ready to Run Sales but in the past 3-4 years we have offered more horses and in recent years the likes of Hong Kong Group winner Ho Ho Khan, Kante LW, High Mode SP, Superich, D’aguilar, Red Forest, Swisswatch, and Yabadabadoo.
Q: And finally which is your favourite horse and why is he/ she special?
A: I like the Reliable Man-Zuzela filly as she is a quality staying type of filly and very typical of the good horses which come out of New Zealand. Her sire Reliable Man left the NZ Oaks winner Sentimental Miss, while his daughters Belle du Nord, Akribie, Aalaalune, Leading Girl, Kapoor, Gris Dame, and Luminous. The filly also boasts some significant influences on her female side with her dam being by sensational broodmare sire Redoute’s Choice, and her second dam is the Group 1 placed Zastov – a daughter of another breed shaper in Zabeel.