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Breeding season thriving – despite severe drought

By Duane Ranger

Breeding numbers are at a record high at Egmont Park Stud, despite the toughest of drought conditions.

In fact, travel to the Biddeston farm, situated 20 minutes west of Toowoomba, and you will see baron drought-stricken land, but take a closer look at the standardbreds and you would think they have been feeding on the lush-green pastures of Southland in New Zealand.

Farm manager, Peter Bell, said despite his prayers for rain going unanswered, his priority was still to ensure that his stock were well fed.

“It hasn’t been easy, but we have had local hay and feed readily available, and we have also had to call on hay from far afield, but that’s our priority. It’s all about keeping our horses well fed and keeping them in healthiest condition possible.

“I don’t like to talk numbers but this is our biggest breeding season since we have been here (11 years). The pregnant mares are in good shape and the breeding is going extra well,” Bell said.

“Our clients are our priority and it is vital that their stock is maintained in the best possible condition,” he added.

With the peak of the breeding season now upon them, Bell said about 20 mares had already left foals – with not one being lost.

The Bells and Farm owners Kevin and Kay Seymour are pictured watching the birth of a Gotta Go Cullect – Judyfree filly two Sundays ago (September 15).

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Judyfree is by Ponder and won 18 starts and $118,439,

“It’s not every day that we get to witness something so special. We might be in drought in Queensland, but have a look at the way Peter and Leann look after our client’s mares. I doubt you could see mares in better condition anywhere in Australia,” Mr Seymour said.

Bell said the drought had meant a lot more time had to be spent on feeding, but without that hard work, he said standards would slip.

“It’s our busiest time of year, but feed aside, we pay a lot of attention to detail, and go out of our way to ensure the mares have the best possible foaling conditions. Despite the weather, it’s been a very productive breeding season so far,” said Bell.

Dozens of broodmares, like Don’t Fall For Me, Get In The Groove, and Starzzz of Icon, were all heavily pregnant.

“I don’t like singling out individuals but the dam of Colt Thirty One - Charm Personified (by Vanston Hanover) is really thriving, as is our good old broodmare, Rhapsody In Red (also by Vanston Hanover).

“The mares served by Hurrikane Kingcole are also producing some nice foals. Hopefully this time next year we will be able to say the same about our first-year stallion, Ohoka Punter. Then one day perhaps Colt Thirty One can also make the same impression in the breeding barn as what he’s doing on the racetrack,” Bell said.

“It’s all about keeping our clients happy, and wanting to come back to us. They are what make our business tick, and if it means getting hay from nowhere, sobeit. The main thing is all of our mares are thriving. We owe a lot to Kevin and Kay, who have always been so supportive,” he added.

He said the farm had 140 mares to get in foal for the next breeding season.