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Breeder of the Year Nomination tops off big season for Scott Williams

"What Can I Say ?" That could well have been the answer that Scott Williams gave when asked the question of how he felt about being nominated for Mercedes Breeder of the Year – not because it is one of his favourite expressions but because it is the name of one of his broodmares.

The dam of just one of the three stakes winners he bred that won in the 2007-2008 season, in fact she is the dam of Gibraltar Campion(Rock of Gibraltar) the winner of the listed MRC Kevin Heffernam Stakes last November. Ah, last November was a most memorable month for Scott Williams!

It started with Zarita (Pentire – Gin Player) winning the Group 2 VRC Wakeful Stakes followed closely by Efficient (Zabeel – Refused to Dance) – of whom he still had a racing share with co breeder Graham Hunt- winning the Group One VRC Melbourne Cup.

However if the spring in Melbourne was good the autumn in Adelaide was superb with Zarita going on to win two Group One events the SAJC Schweppes Oaks and the South Australian Derby, she also picked up the Group Two VRC Kewney Stakes and Group Two MRC Angus Armanasco Stakes on the way. So as the breeder of two group one winners in one season he was pretty sure he would be a contender for breeder of the year.

It is an honour and a privilege that is not lost on Williams; however he is more humbled and excited about Gin Player – the dam of Zarita - being nominated for Broodmare of the Year.

"She is just a plan ordinary mare who leaves good foals. She is a wild spirit who was never broken in due to an injury to her foot as a foal; she is very hard to catch in the paddock and teaches her foals to run early" and according to Williams, "they never stop."

"Believe it or not I bought her for $2,000 from the estate of my good friend Neil Waddell."

If you think that Williams seems under whelmed by his nomination for Breeder of the Year, he is not, the fact that he places more emphasis on the deeds of his broodmare than his ability to take credit for the matings probably sums up the quiet unassuming accountant who has made a lot of friends, gained the respect of his peers and had a lot of fun over the last 40 years. Friends have played a big part in the journey to the nominations for these awards.

Williams grew up in the Wairarapa on a farm about half way between Featherston and Martinborough with the picturesque Tauherenikau race course about the same distance away to the west. The family had horses, usually someone else's rejects and he rode as a youngster but hasn't ridden since an accident at a junior hunt on the family's property when he was sixteen. By this stage betting on horses seemed a far better pastime.

Following school he ventured off to Massey University to study amongst other things accountancy – there he met up with a couple of likely lads, brothers Tim and Dave Harrison who liked to follow the horses and together they thought they would have a go at this breeding game! Nearly forty years on Tim and Scott are still both heavily involved in the industry and still have partnerships together. It is fair to say that they both have had more success lately than they did in the early 70's.

After Massey Williams went back to farm in the Wairarapa, where he kept a few broodmares including the dam of the infamous Dandaleith and in his words did ok. However farming really wasn't doing it for Scott so he moved north to Cambridge in the early 80's and concentrated on being an accountant. The breeding went on hold as he set about establishing his accountancy practice and a network of friends and colleagues in the industry that have contributed to his success along the way.

"When I moved to Cambridge I couldn't afford to be involved in breeding. In the early 90's after the crash I started buying mares for clients – I bought a lot of mares for David Smith and Lorraine Thomas of Davilora Lodge – big scopey mares who grew good foals, and who had left black type winners – one of those was Meant For Me whom we bought from Wayne Wilkinson. I ended up with a share in her and bred Dowry my first group One winner with David and Lorraine.

"That really propelled me back into breeding and I decided to get serious about it. I realised you need to concentrate on what you are doing and be commercially inclined and that increases your chances of succeeding. I am only interested in owning premier market mares.

"I bought a share in Zabeel with Tim (Harrison), and Bill Borrie when the Zabeel's were three year olds, and it was with a nomination I purchased from that partnership that I bred Efficient with Graham Hunt.

"I had an empty mare in mind to go to Zabeel but in early August when I sent her to stud it turned out she was in foal and to a late service, so I needed to get another mare, Graham wanted to send Refused to Dance to Zabeel but couldn't get in and the rest they say is history.

"We were pretty stoked when he won the VRC Derby in 2006, so you can imagine how we felt after he won the Melbourne Cup especially as he had shown no form from one year to the next."

"I bred four foals in the 2003 season, Efficient (Zabeel – Refused to Dance), Joy and Fun (Cullen – Gin Player), Master Green (Fusiachi Pegasus – What Can I Say) and a Lord Ballina- Cent for Me colt. In the 2007-2008 racing season Efficient won the Group One Melbourne Cup, Joy and Fun is a Class I winner of over $HK2,000,000 in Hong Kong and Master Green won a race here before being exported to Singapore.

"And from the six foals I bred in 2004 there is Zarita (Pentire-Gin Player, Gibraltar Campion (Rock of Gibraltar – What Can I Say), Mastersten (Pentire-Goodness), an unraced filly in Singapore named Malabar Jasmine (Indian Danehill-Ascona),an unnamed Quest for Fame filly out of Graceful Endeavour and Lasting Legacy a Pins filly out of Meant For Me that I kept and raced and so far she has shown nothing! Zarita is a dual Group One winner, Gibraltar Campion a stakes winner, and Mastersten has won a race in Victoria. I guess when you add it all up it hasn't been a bad season."

This year he will breed around 30 mares - some of them borrowed - and they will be mated with the various stallions he is a shareholder in including Handsome Ransom, Spartacus, Bachelor Duke and Any Suggestions so maybe the name Scott Williams will be a regular in the Breeder of theYear nominations in years to come.

- Michelle Saba


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