Hastings-based Richard McKenzie bred, owns and co-trains Estefania (Darci Brahma – Zino Belle) with his partner Jordan Bassett. Estafania won the Nelson Pine/IPL Marketing/Marshall Waterproofing 1550 at Manawatu Racing Club (Awapuni) on Saturday 27th August 2022. Now eight, Estefania took time to mature and could head to Hastings next week if it rains. Richard and Jordan are looking to get some black type success for her if possible as they are looking at breeding later this season.
How did you get involved in the thoroughbred breeding industry? My grandfather always had a few thoroughbreds as well as standardbreds (trotters and pacers) and used to follow those horses. My Grandfather was also treasurer at Wanganui jockey club so family involvement was always there. I'm also an equine vet as well. I enjoy horses, it can be a tough game though. I've bred a few and Jordan was an apprentice jockey and now being able to train too adds to the opportunities for them.
How many mares do you breed from? We have four mares. A new filly foal was born 10 days ago by Proisir and we have another due in next fortnight. We will probably only breed from two this season plus Estafania. The year before last we had three fillies and will retain/race or syndicate these rather than selling.
What else do you have in your bloodstock portfolio? Three yearlings, plus six in work, three-year-olds, plus four- and five-year-olds, some are owned, others syndicated.
Do you make your own mating decisions or seek advice? Seek advice, some formal, some informal. I have discussions with others in industry - discussions are generally around whether breeding to sell or race. The reality is some are easier to sell, we tend to end up racing those that don’t sell at yearling sales and also often retain the fillies. I talk to a wide range of people from stud farms, other breeders, trainers, and have used goldmine in the past as well.
Do you have a favourite cross? Darci Brahma springs to mind, while he is getting older I feel as a stallion he is underrated, they mostly seem to be sound and handy horses. To be fair Estafania is responsible for this. Consistency and soundness has been the key with her. We've bred, broken in and done everything with her, we have made mistakes along the way, she has been forgiving of errors and rewarded with five wins so feel Darci Brahma is a good stallion for consistent horses.
Favourite New Zealand-based stallion? Per Incanto and Time Test are favorites. I sold a Time Test a couple of years ago who hasn’t done much but I see he’s nominated for a race soon so interested to see how he goes. Per Incanto’s are also very nice. We've used Little Avondale a number of times with good outcomes. Proisir at Richhill stud is another that is favored too.
Breed to race or breed to sell? We generally breed to sell, however depends on whether filly or colt, as we tend to keep the fillies.
Proven stallion or new season sire? If money wasn’t an object a proven sire would be preferred. First season stallions always attract interest due to unknown quantity, however preference is to go to a proven stallion as generally will attract good prices at yearling sales.
Best breeding advice you have received? Don’t be afraid to ask questions, surround yourself with as many experts as you need to get info you need. Put your thoughts out there and listen to the responses, adjust your thinking if need be. Find people that understand and are proven in market you’re in, to hopefully decrease failures and increase successes, studs, vets, trainers all can help with sorting through ideas and making decisions.
Who do you admire in the thoroughbred breeding industry? A lot across the board, hard to say one person.
If you could own any broodmare (past or present), who would it be? Melody Belle – it will be exciting to see what comes from her foal that’s just been born, as well as going forward what she will produce.
If you could spend a day learning the tricks of the trade on any farm in the world which would it be? Arrowfield Stud in Australia.
Proudest moment as a breeder? Last Saturday! Estefania’s a special mare to us, we’ve had her from birth. We bought the mare in foal with Estefania and she was a “redbag” delivery, managed to get her out safely. Initially looked at sending to yearling sales but shewas a bit small so decided to keep her. We broke her in and she is first horse we’ve bred and taken right through. To have her come through from that rocky start at birth to winning five races is pretty special, we’ve made some mistakes along the way, but she’s done so well, we’re very proud.
Finish this sentence: The best part of being a thoroughbred breeder is... contact with the horses, working with the horses is the key.