Tom Jamison proud to be nominated for Breeder of the Year

Tom Jamison doesn't often get mentioned in the same breath for his horse breeding as Garry Chittick, Dick Karreman and Sir Patrick and Justine Hogan. But the retired business consultant from Otaki is squaring off against them at the racing awards next month after making the shortlist for the 2006-2007 breeder of the year award.

Jamison clearly doesn't breed on the scale that Chittick, Karreman and the Hogans do – he had about 10 broodmares earlier this decade – but the progeny of those mares included two international quality group winners in the past season.
Pentathon was a group winner in both New Zealand and Australia, and Armada was an outstanding miler in Hong Kong and the fourth-highest rated galloper overall in the Chinese territory.

Jamison says he's astonished to be in the running for the award, especially given the company he has for nominees. "Usually the only time they would have been thinking of me was when I was booking mares to their stallions and paying service fees," he jokes. "It was a real surprise to be nominated but I'm extremely proud of it." Prior to the efforts of Pentathon and Armada, Jamison was probably best-known in racing circles as a member of the TAB board and then the Racing Industry Board. Now he's becoming more involved in breeding, having increased his stock of broodmares to 20, many of them now much more commercial.

But he was still breeding on a much smaller scale in 2001 when he bred Pentathon and Armada, the latter bred in partnership with Greg James and Joan Fleming.
Armada was bred from the Red Tempo mare Dance In Time, who Jamison bought with James and Fleming as a yearling at Trentham for $4500.
"We were keen to buy a filly at that sale. There were two that we liked and the other one was way out of our price range," he said. "I really liked Red Tempo and Balmerino (her damsire) and I thought she had potential."

Dance In Time, who hails from the family that produced Sharif and Waikiki, did little on the racetrack and she was sent to the broodmare paddock in 1995. She had produced four foals before they decided to send her to nearby Wairarapa and Towkay. "I was a great admirer of his sire Last Tycoon and you had to like his dam Princess Tracy, who also produced Danasinga and Cullen," Jamison said.
"He was only about $4000 and it seemed like a good option to go to him."
The trio kept the colt, then named After The Dance, and put him in training. He ran second in a trial before being sold for $60,000 to Hong Kong buyers and renamed Armada. He hit the big time in Hong Kong this season, winning the Stewards Cup (HK1-1600m) and the Hong Kong International Mile Trial (HK2-1600m) and running second in the Hong Kong Mile (Gr 1-1600m). "People said we were mad to sell him for that, especially with what he's done since, but it was a good profit on a $4000 service fee from a mare that cost $4500," he said. "We're really proud of what he's done."

Pentathon's origins hark back to Jamison's purchase of her dam Star Royal as a yearling for $20,000 at the Karaka Premier Sale in 1993. The Grosvenor filly out of Star Lot, a Matamata Breeders' Stakes winner, was a three-quarter sister to New Zealand Oaks winner Starline (by Sir Tristram). "She ran second first-up over 1200m and I got quite optimistic about her but her temperament was against her so we didn't persist on the racetrack," he said. "I thought that our best chance with her was to put her to a staying sire and Pentire was the best available at a fee I could afford that year."

The first Pentire-Star Royal progeny was a filly, Shahiid, a winner at 1600m. Star Royal then produced a colt by Jetball before being sent back to Pentire, the resulting progeny being Pentathon. He was subsequently sold at the Karaka Select Colts sale to John Wheeler for $33,000, a figure which has proved to be a bargain. Wins in the New Zealand Cup (Gr 2-3200m) and the O'Shea Stakes (Gr 2-2400m) have pushed his earnings above $500,000, and there should be more to come.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment for Jamison after these successes is that he no longer has either Dance In Time or Star Royal, both of whom have died. "Star Royal died of a heart problem, and Dance In Time died on the operating table after getting colic," he said. "It's disappointing but you have to move on."

The Dance In Time partnership still has one of her daughters, the listed winner Dance On Deck, to breed to, and Jamison also retains a Prized filly out of Star Royal named Pinders Prize. "I haven't decided whether to go to Pentire again with her – with Prized and Grosvenor on the bottom line it's quite a lot of stamina – but chances are she will go there again some time."

In the years since Pentathon and Armada were bred, Jamison has increased his breeding stock to 20 mares, which are on a farm of Jamison's in Cambridge where they are currently managed by Nick King of Brighthill Farm. Many of them are more commercial now – they include mares by Danzig and Sadler's Wells and mares from the Eight Carat and Betty Box families. Now that he has mares with pedigrees such as those, chances are his fellow breeder of the year nominees will be seeing more of him. "Of the 20 mares about 10 to 15 will have progeny aimed at K1 or K2 level. The others will be a bit of fun."

- Alastair Bull


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