What the long-term future holds for Bromac Lodge is unclear following the passing of Bob McArdle earlier this year, but in the short term it will act as a base for frozen semen this season for former Nevele R Stud manager Peter O’Rourke.
McArdle’s wife Denese has sold off almost all of his stock since his shock death on the eve of the yearling sales in January and while most would expect the valuable showpiece property on prime land at Prebbleton, adjacent to Nevele R, to be sold and developed in time, O’Rourke said he was able to secure a lease for the next breeding season in the meantime.
“We’re going to specialise in frozen semen and having mares on the property for that purpose only will allow us to offer some economies of scale and do it a little cheaper than the other studs,” said O’Rourke.
“Frozen semen requires more intervention of course but if you have five or six mares on hand at one time, as opposed to one or two, you can make some savings there.”
Highly respected veterinarian and former Nevele R studmaster Mike Hills will be one of two vets doing the frozen semen work at Bromac Lodge and there will be a fee of $600+GST for three cycles.
O’Rourke, trading as Stallions Australasia, has had his own stable of frozen semen trotting stallions in recent seasons, including Muscle Hill and his Hambletonian-winning son in the brilliantly-bred Trixton, while O’Rourke will again also offer Lucky Chucky, Royalty For Life and Wishing Stone and a new arrival in Southwind Frank.
The latter, a son of Muscle Hill and a Cantab Hall mare, was the 2YO Trotter of the Year in North America in 2015, winning 11 of 12 races including the Haughton and Breeders Crown while taking a record that year of 1.52.4.
As a three-year-old he won over $1.1m and took his career tally close to $2m with his wins including the half million-dollar Stakes races the Colonial Trot and Beal Memorial while finishing second in the Hambletonian, Breeders Crown and Kentucky Futurity.
“The exchange rate at the moment is making life rather difficult and it is much more attractive for them to freeze Muscle Hill’s semen for Europe.”
Southwind Frank stood his first season at stud in North America last year at Diamond Creek Farm in Pennsylvania at a fee of $10,000 and will be available here at $6000.
The picture is not so clear around Muscle Hill however and O’Rourke won’t really know exactly where he stands until he gets another shipment of frozen semen, hopefully by the end of October.
“The exchange rate at the moment is making life rather difficult and it is much more attractive for them to freeze Muscle Hill’s semen for Europe.
“What we do know is that the demand for bookings here will far outweigh the supply.”
Southwind Frank and Trixton will make for nice alternatives that O’Rourke can offer, however.
By Muscle Hill from Emilie Cas El, a top Stakes-winning sister to Andover Hall, Angus Hall and Conway hall, Trixton has a first crop of two-year-olds in North America this season and he has already had 51 starters from 82 registered foals.
Six of them have already trotted in 1.56 or faster including the smart filly Starita.
“Several of them have already taken records faster than Trixton himself as a juvenile so it looks like he’s going to sire (early) speed.”
Wishing Stone, a son of Conway Hall who has a first crop in New Zealand of five three-year-olds, including a colt from Cyclone Vance, covered 20 mares here last season.
He has a first crop in North America of three-year-olds, while Wishing Stone has two-year-olds along with Trixton.
Stallions Australasia will offer frozen semen to outside stallions as well, including Love You, with Victoria’s Pat Driscoll agreeing to support Bromac Lodge as one of his nominated bases in New Zealand.