This week in Dunstan Meet the Breeder we chat with Hallmark Stud's Mark Baker to gain an insight into the Te Kauwhata operation that has produced horses such as recent Karaka Million 3yo winner Prowess and Champion filly Katie Lee
How many mares do you breed from?
About a dozen at present but need more.
What else do you have in your bloodstock portfolio (youngstock, racehorses etc)
A few two- & three-year-olds either owned in partnership or our own - mainly in training to target the tried horse market. Plus, we have several stallion shares – namely, Tivaci, Proisir, Hello Youmzain & Ace High
Do you make your own mating decisions or seek advice from others – if others who?
We make our own decisions, but always great to pick Mark Caters brains from time to time!
Do you have a favourite cross?
No, not at all. Type must come first – ask Garry Chittick how he bred Starcraft ……
Proven stallion or new season sire?
Both! But first season sires are always simple to market – they have no convictions!
Best breeding advice you have received?
You need a thick skin and they must match up physically
Who do you admire in the thoroughbred breeding industry?
Too many to name. However, Gordon Cunningham has attention to detail and his work ethic is unmatched …. and his results reflect that. Also, the generation of Nelson Schick, Garry Chittick and my own parents who were eating paint off the walls when they first started out.
If you could own any broodmare (past or present), who would it be?
Miss Jessie Jay in conjunction with Trevor Hurley. She left us Katie Lee and Banchee (both champions of their age group) in the same season. I’m led to believe it’s never been done before. She was crowned Broodmare of the Year in that season.
Baggy Green too I guess and after Saturday night, better have our Donna Marie in there as well!
What advice would you give someone entering the industry as a breeder?
Be prepared for a roller coaster ride. If you believe in something, try it; because you just never know – they come from anywhere. Most importantly, leave your mares and young stock in the hands of top people who can rear them to maximise their potential physically and mentally.
Proudest moment as a breeder?
Probably Katie Lee, Champion 3YO and still the only filly to win both the 1000 & 2000 Guineas and Banchee, Champion 2YO. They were half sisters and won their respective categories in the same season.
Prowess’s win on Saturday in the Karaka Million 3YO race is right up there too! Especially given the field she beat and from a mare we only paid $20,000 for.
Finish this sentence: The best part of being a thoroughbred breeder is… the huge thrill of seeing a plan come together either in the sale ring or on the track that took years in the making!