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Benji’s Blog – March 2015

Mares and foals in the Main yard in front of the office.
Mares and foals in the Main yard in front of the office.

Background

My name is Benji King, I am the very grateful receiver of the Sunline Trust Scholarship. I have been working with horses since I can remember having grown up on my parent's successful thoroughbred stud, Brighthill Farm.

My true drive and passion for horses came when I was fortunate to have been given a holiday job at Vinery Stud, Australia preparing yearlings for the 2010 Sydney Easter sale. I then stayed on to work for two stud seasons followed by subsequent yearling preparations.

In 2013 I was fortunate to have been selected by the Hunter Valley Thoroughbred Breeders' Association to go on their scholarship to the Irish National Stud for six months on the internationally recognised Breeding Course, and received the Irish National Stud certificate which is recognised throughout the bloodstock world.

On my return to Vinery Stud, I was appointed the position of Assistant Stallion Manager to long time Stallion Manager Jose Ramos. I learnt so much under the watchful eye of Jose and was keen to know as much as I could about working stallions.

In 2014 in my 'annual holiday' I took up the opportunity of travelling with nine two-year-old race horses to Hong Kong for Bruce and Maureen Harvey, Ascot Farm. These two year olds were to breeze up for the International Sale held in Hong Kong. This is an area that I haven't had too much experience in before. I certainly learnt a lot from Bruce and it was a great experience especially how to deal with young race horses exercising daily.

My Journey Begins

My start on the Sunline Trust Scholarship started with a 2:30pm departure flight from Auckland to Hong Kong, like all good trips we were then delayed for an hour due to the plane not arriving on time! As always I left my packing and organising until the last minute, and trying to decide on how many jackets I might need to take with me to survive the harsh winters of Newmarket. Once again saying good bye to my family and friends is never easy.

After a very comfortable 12 hour flight from Hong Kong to Heathrow I made my way to the bus station in freezing 2 degrees weather for the last leg of my journey to Newmarket. It was two and a half hours by bus to the beautiful town of Newmarket. It was quite a sight to see the horses walking down the road in their strings to go work up on the famous Newmarket gallops.

On my arrival in to Newmarket I was then picked up by Matthew Sigsworth, Cheveley Park's Bloodstock Manager who then kindly took me to where i would be spending my next 10 weeks out. I started my first day on Monday reading through the very long 'Health and Safety Manual', then getting my very flash work uniform and a very important jacket. I was then given the grand tour of the beautifully kept grounds of Chevely Park. I saw their Champion Sire Pivotal who now at the grand age of 22 years looked absolutely fantastic.
The Terra-vac in action
The Terra-vac in action

On the second day I got to go on the vet run around the farm with head veterinary surgeon Andrew J. McGladdery and see the other side of the farm where more horses are kept, and generally getting my bearings and head around all the different yards and farms.

I have been working in the main yard where the mares that are close to their due dates are kept to be foaled down. It is so different to what I am used to - the mares come in every night to a stable full of straw for bedding, hay and feed, they are also under full surveillance with most of the boxes having cameras that are recording for security and insurance purposes. This certainly makes checking the mares very easy.

After a couple days working in the main yard I went and spent a day at Strawberry Hill yard where all of their race horses spell or are on box rest are kept. We then went to William Haggas' racing stables to pick up a filly that has been retained to go to stud. The stable area and boxes were very clean and tidy and looked a very organized and well run stable. We then went to Richard Morgan Even's pre training and breaking in yard where one of the fillies was going to be prepared to go back in to training with Sir Michael Stoute. On the way home we stopped in at trainer Robert Cowell to pick up a filly that was also going to stud. I have also spent a bit of time on Sandwich Stud where all the yearlings are kept, they have been coming in to stables at night over the winter and they all look in amazing condition and very well behaved with the extra handling they receive. There is also another farm on the other side Warren Hill and Ashley Heath where the other half of the in foal mares will be foaling down. Also the dry and maiden mares get ready to go to stud.

My Working Day

My normal day starts at 7 am with a leisurely 10-minute bicycle ride to work. We all meet in the coffee room to be given our instructions for the day. We then get all the horses that are not staying in for the vet out in to their paddocks, the vet will then come around 8 am to scan mares and to check all the new born babies over. Once the vet is finished we get started on mucking the boxes out. We don't muck all the boxes out at once, we split them in half and the skip out the rest. When the boxes are finished we clean the waters and put feed and hay in ready for the mares to come in. After we have finished making a huge mess in the yard we sweep in the doors then the Terra-vac (a massive vacuum cleaner that is towed by a small tractor) works it's magic! This amazing piece of equipment cleans the yard so well and saves so much time sweeping or blowing, after lunch we start to bring all the horses in for the night. We brush off the mares that are close to foaling so they are not covered in mud if they do foal. We tidy up the office and finish at 4:30. Easy bike ride down the hill to my flat in Cheveley! If it is your night to sit up and watch the mares you will then have to be back at work at 8 pm then finish the night at 7 am.

Cheveley Park Stud

Cheveley Park is the oldest stud farm in England and has a huge amount of history behind it from been passed through generations of Kings and Monarchs. Even the army in the world wars used it as a base camp for the pilots and also a prisoner of war camp. A lot of the buildings still stand having been converted in to stables and offices. With the different owners, the stud has changed in size going from 7800 acres back in 1898 when Harry McCalmont owned the property. The property even had its own personal railway from Cheveley Park mansion down to Newmarket town, it was used to bring materials from town to the farm. The stud is now owned by David and Patricia Thompson and currently just under 1000 acres.

In the main stallion yard there is a box built to commemorate the victories of Isinglass in 1892 who was sold for £20 to be used as a carriage-horse he was then put in to training earning a total of £57,465 on the track, the greatest amount won by a single horse and to go on and become a very influential sire. His box now houses Champion Sire Pivotal who has also kept up the tradition of leaving a legacy. Another area of the farm, the dairy yard that was originally used as a dairy years ago was then converted in to a racing yard, this is now used as a yard for a few mares that aren't too near their due date, but still need to be watched.
The stallion box in which Pivotal resides was built in 1892
The stallion box in which Pivotal resides was built in 1892

Stallions

Cheveley Park stand eight quality stallions giving everyone the chance to breed to their stallions.

New for 2015 is a very exciting young stallion Garswood by Dutch Art - Penchant by Kyllachy a very impressive looking horse, that will only get better when he fully lets down. He is a Group 1 winner over 6 1/2 furlongs. Stud fee: 7000 pounds.

Dutch Art by Medicean - Halland Park Lass by Spectrum, a dual Group 1 winner, unbeaten 2yo also producing some great horses Garswood, Slade Power, Caspar Netscher and many more top quality horses. Stud fee of 40,000 pounds.

Intello by Galileo - Impressionnante by Danehill, Champion 3yo colt in France with Champion race mare Goldikova booked in for 2015. He's a very athletic looking horse with great looks ticks all the boxes. Stud fee 25,000 pounds.

Kyllachy by Pivotal - Pretty Poppy by Song, sire of dual Group 1 winner Sole Power and producing 24 individual 2yo winners in 2014. Stud fee 15,000 pounds.

Lethal Force by Dark Angel - Land Army by Desert Style, won the Group 1 July Cup in a course record time, making him the fastest ever horse over 6 furlongs at Newmarket. Stud fee 10,000 pounds.

Mayson by Invincible Spirit - Mayleaf by Pivotalvery, winning the Group 1 July Cup by an impressive 5 lengths. In his career beating Ortensia and Sepoy from Australia. Stud fee 6,000 pounds.

Medicean by Machiavellian - Mystic Goddess by Storm Bird, sire of 10 individual Group 1 winners, personally I think best money for value that gets the results. Stud fee 8,000 pounds.

Pivotal by Polar Falcon - Fearless Revival by Cozzene,Champion Sire, and sire of sires producing 111 stakes winners and 24 individual Group 1 winners, and now becoming a influential broodmare sire. Stud fee 45,000 pounds.

Cheveley Park has some of the best bloodlines in the world with their world class stallions and broodmares. Cheveley Park is a private stud with owners David and Patricia Thompson racing most of the fillies and sell all the colts through foal or yearling sales. Cheveley Park Stud also cross their mares very well using the best stallion that would suit the mare. Supporting their own stallions giving them every chance to succeed and doing that very well.


 

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