David Archer was initiated into the world of racing as a pre-schooler and that early interest developed into a lifelong passion that has given him some of the biggest thrills possible for an owner or breeder of thoroughbreds.
“Like a lot of people in my generation my interest came from my father, my parents,” Archer said.
“We have a photograph of me in the New Zealand Herald when I must have been about four years of age sitting on the fence watching the races at Ellerslie.
“Right through into my teenage years we would hop in the car on weekends and drive from Auckland to Matamata or Te Rapa or wherever and just go to the races.”
Archer got a taste of success with multiple winner Turnpike Lane (Crested Wave) but took a break from the industry after his wife Joy passed away.
“I had the misfortune of losing my wife after 27 years of marriage and I stopped racing horses for a few years,” Archer said.
“I now have another lovely lady in my life, Diane, who loves racing like I do.
“I had my arm twisted to come back into racing. Brendan Lindsay was the one that pulled my arm up my back and made me go back to the sales again.”
It was a decision Archer would not regret as he walked away for the 2004 yearling sale at Karaka with a Victory Dance colt who would go on to become Group One winner Gallions Reach, and a Mellifont filly he later named Belle Joie. It was her Archer credits with the purchase of champion galloper Mufhasa (Pentire) and the establishment of his broodmare band.
“Belle Joie started it for us,” Archer said. “She really gave us Mufhasa and so she is very sentimental.
“A few years after buying her we saw the half-brother up for sale.
“We thought that if she was that good and by Mellifont, then Pentire won’t be too bad.”
Belle Joie was no slouch, winning six times over 1200-1300m, but her feats paled in comparison to her half-brother Mufhasa who was twice crowned New Zealand Horse of the Year and won ten times at elite level.
Belle Joie became Archer’s foundation broodmare and makes up a third of his current breeding line-up.
“We only have three broodmares, we are not bigtime players,” Archer said.
“What we have decided is that the three we have got are because we want the two families.
“We have now got fillies from each of the three mares so that will go on to give us another generation of the same families.”
As well as Belle Joie, Archer has her half-sister Keepa Cheval (Keeper), the dam of Queensland Winter Carnival standout The Bostonian (Jimmy Choux).
The third member of the trio is Seven Shillings (O’Reilly), a Group One performed mare that is the dam of three winners including recent Gr.2 Wellington Guineas (1400m) winner Emily Margaret (Pins).
“It is exciting times for us because we have got a couple of really nice mares,” Archer said.
“What was the absolute highlight was obviously when Bostonian stepped up as he did this year and won two sprinting Group Ones in Australia.
“Being out of our own mare we have had him from day one and that has to be the highlight by far.”
A contributing factor to Archer’s success is his Karaka property where his mares reside in the off season and his racing team head to spell.
“We have a little 20acre property, it is nothing special, but it has a pre-training track,” Archer said.
“All three mares will come up to the rail to see me and they do well out there for whatever reason.
“When we take the horses back, Bostonian, Charles Road etc we get huge accolades. In that respect we are lucky at the farm to have a young lady Amy Doran who runs our farm for us, and she is just so good with the horses.
“She is assisted by Derek Nolan who does our pre-training track and riding.”
Around four years ago Archer decided to do something positive for the industry that has given him so much.
A life-long insurance broker, he launched Fasttrack Insurance in early-2015. The company gives a percentage of each premium to the racing industry either via direct donation to nominated racing clubs, or into a national pool to boost stakes.
“I woke up some years ago thinking that racing was starting to struggle and needed more money for race stakes,” Archer said.
“Fasttrack is a concept that by contributing to stakes we help the owners, the trainers, and the jockeys. But to me everyone benefits, especially the breeders because everyone needs the industry to keep going.
“We are a long way from getting to the kind of heights I want to reach for Fasttrack and I’m not passing that baton just yet, I want to take it to the next level.”
Fasttrack is not only contributing to racing in monetary terms but also introducing new people to the industry.
“Fasttrack is now getting approaches from the general public, not just the racing public, which is amazing,” Archer said.
“If we can expand on that then we are getting some new people exposed to racing. If Fasttrack can do that then we are not only producing some money but bringing some people to the races.”
Expansion is not on the cards for Archer’s broodmare band however, he is content to keep the numbers small and the quality high.
“Who knows, we might find another one, but we are happy with three at this stage,” he said.
“I just love the industry and we never tire from the excitement, whether it is winning a Group One or just winning at $10,000 maiden at Matamata or Rotorua.” -Amie Best, NZTBA