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Andrew and Dave breed the NZ Oaks winner!

A couple of dairy farmers Andrew Bryant and Dave Armstrong, were milking cows on a dairy farm back in the 1970's which just happened to be next door to Cambridge Stud.

They struck up a friendship with the 'horse boys' over the fence and developed a keen interest in racing and breeding, so it was rather fitting that their first group one winner, Midnight Oil (Keeper- Gilded Light), was by a Cambridge Stud stallion.

"We were thrilled when Midnight Oil won the Oaks - excited for the Nineteenth syndicate that races her, and delighted that Keeper (Danehill-Nuwirah) was the sire of our first group one winner as Sir Patrick Hogan and Marcus Corban have been such great mentors to us," enthused a very excited Andrew Bryant.

"When we lived next door to the stud we were like sponges just learning so much from them. They are great friends and it's such a thrill that it was our Keeper that gave Keeper his second New Zealand Oaks winner in a row."

The pair of Waikato NZTBA branch members, who trade under Andari Limited, ventured into the breeding business about nine years ago, buying a few mares and fillies off the racetrack. According to Andrew, Andari is an acronym for either Andrew and Dave's Racing Investment or Retirement Interest, but at the moment it is looking more like the former.

They have a small select band of broodmares and a couple of good race mares in their portfolio and in the past couple of years have started to have more luck and better returns.

"We were a little bit green when we started out and our mare selection wasn't all that flash. We purchased Gilded Light (Gilded Time-Money Mover) straight out of training. She had been placed, but didn't win, she was a windsucker, and only slight at 15.2 hands high. That was one of the reasons we chose Keeper to put some size into the foal. However ,she was out of a half sister to Danske (Danehill- Our Tristalight) and a descendant of Tudor Light.

"Midnight Oil was a lovely foal and yearling and went to the sales but didn't attract a bid, so we brought her home. Paul Duncan, who had trained a couple of horses for us in the past, said he would get a syndicate to race her and he came up with the Nineteenth Syndicate. They exercised their right of purchase and purchased the filly after she won the group three Lowland Stakes at Hastings just before she won the Oaks.

"When we couldn't sell Midnight Oil we decided to sell Gilded Light in foal to One Cool Cat, and retained her Lucky Unicorn filly, which is in work with Keith and Brendan Hawtin. That was in 2009 when there was a bit of a dip in the dairying industry and we decided to cut down our numbers to the mares we have now.

"We couldn't give Andari Flyer (Fly ToThe Stars – Blanche Amelia) away at that sale – and since then her half sister Bianca has won another group race and run second in the group one Metropolitan. We did manage to lease her out though and she is based in the South Island.

Dave and Andrew have three other mares which were previously at stud in Australia but are now back in the fold here: Head Girl (Encosta de Lago – Hermitage Lane) in foal to Lucky Unicorn with a Keeper colt at foot; Cinnadream (King of Kings –Sogno) is in foal to Keeper and has a Stravinsky colt at foot (she is from the same family as Kindacross); and Lacada (Giant's Causeway – Showella) who is in foal to Zabeel and has a Flying Spur colt at foot.

"We purchased Lacada at a sale in Australia. There are not a lot of females in that family, and she does trace back to the mighty Showgate, so naturally we have been pretty excited with the deeds of her full brother Showcause over the past few months.

As they have grown in knowledge and experience over the past decade the pair have made the move to try and make a business out of Andari by buying yearling fillies to create their own broodmares. This plan seems to be working well with Veronica Franco (Johar – Crystal Hailey) and Kitt Ann Miss (Rock of Gibraltar – Miss Kitt Ann) among the racing team.

"We have been really lucky with Veronica Franco winning the group three Eulogy Stakes last year, and Roger James thinks she will be even better next year at five. We race her with a great syndicate, we love it, and we are meeting such neat people in these syndicates. It's so much fun, especially when you win. It means there are plenty of people to celebrate with, not just our wives.

Andrew's wife Joanne and Dave's wife Tarey share in their passion for the industry and are fully involved. Andrew and Joanne live on a 50 acre farm just out of Rotorua where the mares come after weaning and share the paddocks with the young dairy stock and the bulls.

"We have the mares and some of the young stock at home here in Rotorua.. The farm has been specially fenced for the horses rather than the cows. Our mares usually foal down at Wentworth Grange and are walked in from there. Des, Janet and the Hawkins boys have been a tremendous help to us, and you will notice that Midnight Oil has their distinctive Prince of Wales feathers brand.

"With their help, and that of Sir Patrick and Marcus, we have learnt so much. It's an interesting game and we love it. You never know what's around the corner, no one thought that this filly (Midnight Oil) would turn out to be a group one winner. It's just incredible!" concluded a highly delighted Andrew.



- Michelle Saba