For the sixth time Waikato Stud and Garry Chittick have won the title of Breeder of The Year at the NZTR New Zealand Horse of the Year Awards.
As well the Waikato Stud Stallion Savabeel made a clean sweep of the stallion awards winning the Grosvenor Award (Champion New Zealand Sire), Dewar Award (Champion New Zealand Sire for Australasian stakes money) and the Centaine Award (Champion New Zealand Sire for global earnings).
In a stellar year for the stud, they produced three Group One winners, the three-year-olds Embellish(Savabeel –Bling) Hasahalo (Savabeel – Halloween) and Savvy Coup (Savabeel –Eudora).
As well they produced the Group Two winners Savapinski (Savabeel- Swarovski), Splurge(Savabeel-Splashing Out) and Ocean Emperor (Ocean Park-Tootsie), and the Group Three winner Packing Pins. Add to that another 24 stakes performers throughout Australasia and Asia and you can understand how they won the award.
Pretty exciting was how Garry Chittick described the win, when he spoke to the NZTBA after the event about the award and the family owned operation he runs with his son Mark.
“We thought it was pretty unique that we bred the winners of three of the four classic three-year-old races, we missed out on the Derby but to get the Oaks and the two Guineas races was pretty special,” he said referring to Embellish, Hasahalo and Savvy Coup.
“It was exciting and very good that they were all from young mares. We get a big kick out of developing our families, and we tend to keep a few fillies in case the matings do work well. Even if they don’t perform well if they are well bred we will still breed from them.
“To be fair they (the three three-year-olds) are by Savabeel and if you were standing a stallion like Savabeel and you weren’t getting results like that you would have to have a good hard look at yourself wouldn’t you?
“Of our 200 mares, probably 180 of them are under 10 years old which is quite remarkable really. We retain about 15 fillies each year, which is a big cost financially to us, as when they are yearlings that is the best opportunity to get money for them. But if you don’t keep them for the future you don’t have them as mares.
“It’s our sixth win and we were pretty gutted when we didn’t win it a few years ago when we bred four group one winners, the competition was fairly strong this year and you never know how the voting will go. It’s not an award that should be tossed around, it should be won on merit. I don’t think we overrate its importance.
“It’s a very important award for a stud. The most important award a stud can win, especially if you want to market 180 yearlings each year, you want buyers to know they are buying from a stud that is Breeder of the Year.”
Chittick began breeding horses around 45 years ago and at that time took some advice from Kel Cameron, a very successful and astute breeder from Tokoroa, who was also a former Life Member and Councillor of the NZTBA.
Cameron advised him that if you have a family you like, never sell a filly out of the mare until you have got two. And that’s the philosophy Chittick has basically worked on.
“In 1975 we re-imported Georgina Belle (Pakistan II- Castle Belle), we now have two or three dozen mares out of that family,” he said, “and that gives us a kick to see them still producing.”
In fact Savvy Coup and Ocean Emperor, two stakes winners from the last season have become the latest group winners from this fabulous famiyl which has produced numerous stakes winners including Vision and Power, Glamour Puss, Rare Insight, Steps In Time, Escadaire, Starman II, The Fatz, Crepe de Chine, Arenti, Glam Slam, La Rose Noir, Tootsie, and Legless Veuve to name a few.
Chittick went on to say that they try and buy two mares a year, to provide some out crosses and to develop new lines.
“We bought Suavita (Thorn Park[AUS]- Queen Cha Cha) who is a dual group one winner for that reason. We haven’t done the European mares thing, we have stuck to Australiasian mares as we have found that with the European mares we are about three generations away from the action, and we haven’t ever bought a mare from England.”
It’s a similar scenario with the stallions that Waikato Stud have had success with over the years, with Danasinga, Centaine, Pins and Savabeel all being purchased off the race track in Australia. Chittick believes that a good racehorse, will be a good racehorse no matter what country he races in, and with the principle market for New Zealand studs being Australia it made sense to buy horses that performed well there.
“It’s about sourcing horses that have performed up to a level that we are able to buy them for a realistic price. Australians have a strong desire to have horses who can cope with 10-12 starts as a three-year-old, whereas in Europe your average three-year-old might have only about six starts.
“So we thought we should stand that sort of horse, one that would leave horses people would want to buy and breed to. Centaine, Pins and Savabeel all raced how the Aussies want their horses to race, as three-year-olds having multiple starts.
“It takes five years to make a stallion, and all of a sudden you have about 40 mares by that stallion and so we try and get a new one every second year. And with 70 O’Reilly mares and about 60 by Savabeel, we can’t mate them back, so we needed a new stallion like Tivaci last year and we are on the lookout for a new stallion for next year.
“You are buggered now there is too much competition in Aussie to source horses like that, we have to look for a horse that’s on the way up and hope that the China Horse Club, Arrowfield , Mr Yulong or Mr Fung don’t already own a leg of it.
“Having said that if you took Asia out of the Australasian market you wouldn’t have one. The ability to source stallions is the biggest problem in New Zealand breeding at the moment. We purchased Ocean Park, Savabeel and Sacred Falls for $10 million each and were fortunate enough to have the support of other breeders. You can’t buy stallions for that sort of money now.”
It’s just over 30 years since the Chittick family moved to Waikato Stud, and a long way from Thornton Park the Masterton farm where Garry stood his first stallion.
“My aspiration was to be a farmer with a horse, as was the case with successful studs in those days,” he recalled. “Fundamentally the likes of Te Parae and Okawa were established farms that then stood a stallion.
“I certainly never ever thought of being breeder of the year then, in fact 20 years ago I didn’t even think that I would be.
“If you are lucky you get to work in the industry you love, and it is good fun. A lot of people work here and contribute to the stud, and they are part of its success as well. It’s a big responsibility running an establishment like this, but we do get a hell of a kick out of it.” - Michelle Saba