Recent racetrack results have boosted Tony Rider's confidence in Milan Park's Karaka draft.
The New Year began with a bang for Tony Rider.
He was thrilled with results produced by graduates of his Cambridge farm Milan Park when racing got underway in 2018.
Milan Park will offer 16 yearlings at New Zealand Bloodstock’s yearling sales series, several related to the gallopers who got 2018 off to a flying start.
The most significant was Marcellina, who finished third in the Gr. 2 Royal Stakes at Ellerslie, and Rider will offer her half-brother by Ocean Park in the Book 1 Sale.
Also at Ellerslie, farm graduate Savapak was second in the Dunstan Stayers’ Championship, while stakes performer Savvy Dreams returned to the winner’s circle at Hastings where Pakapunch ran second and Silhouette Beauty was also placed.
Down south, Chic added another with her win at Greymouth.
Rider has another relation to Marcellina in Lot 334, a Savabeel colt out of Legless and also has close relatives of Savvy Dreams and Savapak in his Book 1 draft.
Parades at Milan Park have the man who started life as a Manawatu dairy farmer excited ahead of this month’s Karaka sales.
“We’ve got 12 in Book 1 and people at the parades are telling me we’ve something for everyone,” Rider said.
New Zealand’s biggest buyer of yearlings, Te Akau’s David Ellis, buoyed Rider’s confidence by telling him it was the farm’s best-ever draft.
Nowadays a successful Hamilton supermarket proprietor, Rider loves nothing better than taking a stroll around his picturesque property at the end of a long day.
“After work most nights, I love to potter around the farm and I love walking through the foals to see how they are doing,” he said.
Success is nothing new to the boutique farm home owned by Rider and his wife Vicki and run by manager Grant Bennett.
Irish Fling, Adventador and Savvy Dreams are among the gallopers to have given Rider’s family and friends special thrills on the race track.
Trentham has been the scene of wins by Irish Fling and Adventador in the Gr. 1 Telegraph, while Savvy Dreams ran third at the elite level in the New Zealand Oaks.
Bennett has been involved in the thoroughbred industry for 25 years.
“He’s an absolutely amazing guy,” Rider said. “He has outstanding experience in the industry and knows the business so well.”
But as Rider says, “once a farmer always a farmer” and the pasture management he learned as a young man at Flockhouse, near Bulls, has proved invaluable.
“I’m the pasture man, we have a programme and we stick to it,” he said.
This year’s outstanding draft is spearheaded by five youngsters by champion sire Savabeel – four colts and a filly. Sacred Falls (two), Ocean Park (two), Pins (two) and Per Incanto yearlings complete the line-up.
“We’re proud of our draft,” said Rider, who found his way into the industry via an interesting route.
“I only got into it because my daughter Nicole was into ponies and we were looking for somewhere to graze them.”
The property he eventually settled on was David and Masey Benjamin’s Fayette Park at Kaipaki, near Cambridge, which came with three thoroughbred weanlings.
“That’s how it all started,” he said. “But we had a property at Thames before that, which we bought off Graham Bax (of Blandford Lodge) when we had a supermarket there and I started thinking about racehorses back then.
“When we first got involved I thought ‘we’ll see how it goes’ and now I’ve got 22 broodmares.”
He also has three shares in boom stallion Savabeel, and others in Ocean Park (two), Tivaci, Sacred Falls, Contributor and Tarzino.
The Savabeel shares are largely due to the work Rider does on statistics.
“I’m a stats person, I study and work to the stats,” he said. “I don’t go with the flavour of the month, I look at the crosses that are working and things like that.
“That’s why I got into Savabeel when others were getting out. I had studied Zabeel and thought Savabeel could follow suit.”
The scene is now set for a good time at Karaka.
“We’ve had a couple of hard years (at the sales), but we’ve gone out and bought some young mares and bred to top sires."