Matamata couple Casey and Michelle Dando are living the dream and results like Crack Me Up’s Gr.2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) win at Randwick last Saturday are all part of it.
It provided a timely boost for the Dando’s Bradbury Park going into Karaka’s National Yearling Sales at which its 28-strong draft includes Crack Me Up’s half-brother by Reliable Man being offered in Book 1 (Lot 111) on January 28.
“The win should attract some more interest in the colt,” Dando said. “He’s typical of the family and will be better as he matures. We sold his sister last year and she was much the same. John Chalmers bought her for $100,000 and she went to Perth. She’s a big, staying type of filly.”
By Mossman from the winning Danehill mare Chuckle, Crack Me Up hails from the family of Ruakaka speedster Prom Queen and his earlier wins included the Gr.3 Sunshine Coast Guineas (1600m) and a couple of Listed races.
Bradbury Park will offer 19 yearlings in Book 1 and a further nine in Book 2 at Karaka with a variety of proven and promising sires represented, including the champion sire Savabeel (five lots) and Reliable Man (eight), Makfi (two), Pins (two), Tavistock and Shocking.
“I’m really happy with our draft,” Dando said. “We had a bigger one last season (35) and did well, but we decided to cut down a bit on quantity and angle more on quality.
“I’m pleased with the results we’ve achieved to be the 10th biggest vendor. It’s a pretty big rise when you consider we haven’t got the bloodstock and backers of the big studs. We’re fortunate to work in closely with Waikato Stud and Westbury Stud and that’s helped.
“This is what we’ve worked for. It has been my dream and it’s happening.”
The Dandos worked toward having their own property to cater for broodmares, foals, foaling and sales preparation and since taking the big step in 2010 when purchasing 45 acres and establishing Bradbury Park they have gone ahead in leaps and bounds.
Buying a neighbouring block in May 2016 and taking over the management of the former Dormello Stud in Ohaupo and rebranding it Bradbury Park Ohaupo has increased the operation to around 200 acres.
“It allows us to cater for everything we want,” Dando said. “And then there’s Mum’s 20-acre block nearby which is great for the broodmares. This year we’ve foaled 90 mares.”
Dando’s mother, Glenice, has been a great support to her son and daughter-in-law in their venture and is involved in some of their breeding and racing interests, including the broodmares Heartache and her daughter Accidentallyinlove.
“Actually it’s thanks to Accidentallyinlove and Heartache that we are have this place,” Dando said.
“Selling their foals funded most of it. We sold one of Accidentallyinlove’s yearlings for $210,000, another for $170,000 and another two for $160,000 and $80,000. And we did well selling Heartache’s foals in and out of the ring.
“Accidentallyinlove has a Sacred Falls filly and is empty and Heartache has been retired this year.
“We’re in with Mum in the Reliable Man-Agent Ziva filly we’re selling at Karaka (in Book 2). She’s very much like Mezmerize (her third dam), who was the last horse Dad bought before he died.”
Dando (44) was just 13 when his father, Ron, passed away 31 years ago and it was through him that he got the racing bug.
“Dad always pottered around with a few horses and I went to the races whenever I could,” he said. “I still remember Dad’s last winner, Bright Anchor. He won at Tauranga (in January 1986), Maree Patchett rode him and he paid $75.”
Ron Dando is remembered for building the first equine swimming pool in Matamata and as an owner-trainer one of his best performers was Hudu, whose nine wins included the Listed Anzac Day Handicap (3200m) at Avondale.
The Dando family bred four winners from Mezmerize, including Bemuze, who has exceeded her mother as a broodmare, leaving six winners including multiple stakes-placed Maz Quin (named after the top NZ surfer) and Agent Ziva (by Savabeel).
Dando’s background in horses includes stints working for Melbourne trainers John Sadler and Leon Corstens as well as Dave and Paul O’Sullivan. Then he branched into the stud work at Wedgewood Stud, Cambridge Stud, Trelawney Stud and Blandford Lodge.
During his time at Cambridge Stud he met his wife Michelle, who worked as personal assistant to Sir Patrick Hogan. She is a daughter of former successful apprentice jockey John Messent, whose career was ended prematurely not long after celebrating his biggest win on Beatnik in the 1972 Avondale Cup.
“He and Michelle’s Mum, Margaret, are still down in Wanganui, but come up each sales time to look after our kids,” Dando said. “He got out of racing for a long time, but he’s back racing a couple now.
He’s got shares in Wonder Woman with us and he’s also part of the syndicate that races Hundyamonth with Evan and JJ Rayner.” – NZ Racing Desk.