Careers - Stud Manager
Stud Manager Emirates Park, Hunter Valley, NSW
What involvement have you had with horses prior to your current career? I did go to Pony Club as a kid. That was about it. I do really enjoy Cutting but just don't have the time to compete at the moment. I will get back into it again one day.
Tell us how you first became involved in the TB industry, as we understand your working career began in the Army, so this is certainly a change of direction? I left the army in 1989, I was in the Royal Australian Engineers, I started working for the Hawcroft family at Byerley Stud in 1990 when I was 22. It was definitely a change of direction. I always wanted to work with horses and this was my first introduction to the Thoroughbred industry, to which I am grateful to Martin Hawcroft (dec) and Kelvin Williams (who is still at Byerley) for giving me a go back then.
You have spent many years in the TB industry. How have you progressed to managing one of the Hunter Valley's biggest studs? Byerley Stud was the start of my education, it was hands on there. We had to do it all back then; stallions, mares, yearling prep etc, plus cattle, sheep and 2000 acres that needed to be taken care of with only 3 or 4 staff. It was a great way to learn, long days, but I loved it. It gave me a grounding, especially on farming and I had good teachers along the way. I was also in a partnership that started Sefton Park Stud where it was a very big learning curve. I have been lucky enough to work with some very good people over the years; Dr Rowan Sedgwick, vet; Link Baumann, farrier; and now Trevor Lobb. I'm still learning every day.
In July 2012 you were appointed Stud Manager at Emirates Park in the Hunter Valley. What does this role entail? My role at Emirates Park involves looking after the welfare of staff. We have a farm supervisor, a broodmare supervisor and a yearling supervisor, plus a full time vet on farm, two vet nurses, and a foaling vet nurse who looks after all the newborns. I am lucky to have some very good staff at the moment who work hard and long hours during the season.
There are 300 plus horses on the property. It's an exciting year for Emirates Park and His Excellency Nasser Lootah, with selling the first yearlings of our first season sire, Dream Ahead, so there's a lot riding on the success of the stallion. There's never a dull moment.
Give us a brief insight into Emirates Park? The farm is around 4,000 acres. We have five stallions with two of those that shuttle, one to Ireland and one to England. We average foaling about 190 foals per year on farm. Emirates Park employs around 28 people with its head office based in Sydney.
Work hours? Long days and some nights during the season. Breeding season starts at around 6am and finishes around 6pm, and then I help with night covers. We will be back at 9.30pm. Non breeding season hours are usually 7am to 5pm.
You live on the property and are on call 24/7. How do you balance work and family life? Well, it's very hard. My partner, Lisa, and son, Cameron will agree to that.
Describe a typical day for you? No day is the same. During the breeding season it begins with looking at all the newborns and reporting on them, along with vet work until around lunch time. At the moment, with yearlings in for sales prep, they get the attention in the afternoons. Throughout the day I talk with our vet nurses to keep up to date on all injuries and sicknesses. I'm lucky to have some very experienced staff. You are only as good as the people you work with.
Best part of the job? Working with horses every day and the great people you meet along the way.
Worst part of the job? The long hours prevent me from spending as much time fishing as I would like.
What has been the highlight of your career so far? Emirates Park winning last year's Golden Slipper,
Have you met any interesting/famous personalities? I have met Gai Waterhouse.
What advice would you give to someone interested in a career in this field? To learn all facets of the industry and to listen to everything. You never know who you may learn something from.
Plans for the future? A holiday one day. The Whitsundays is my favourite holiday location.