Published: December 2015.
It is an understatement to say Dean Hawthorne has a grounding in the thoroughbred industry, because horses have been his life from the time he could sit on one. His vast knowledge has gained him enormous respect and plenty of success, particularly in selecting and preparing ready to run horses and in managing a large bloodstock portfolio for clients.
DEAN Hawthorne’s life was really only ever going to go in one direction and nearly 50 years ago now his world began evolving around horses, horses and more horses. These days, few in the thoroughbred industry, on either side of the Tasman, would be able to match the depth of his background.
Dean’s journey through the equine world began as a youngster when he began helping his father at Paramount Stud and before long he had graduated to leading yearlings around the sales ring at Trentham. After competing on the international scene as a three-day eventer he turned back to the thoroughbreds full-time to become a stud proprietor in partnership with his brother.
Dean then decided to strike out on his own running a breaking-in operation, which came to incorporate yearling sales preparation, pin hooking and then the establishment of a bloodstock agency. Based at Cambridge, the “town of trees and champions” in the Waikato Region of the north island, he has major players as clients at home in New Zealand as well as in Australia.
New Zealand Bloodstock’s co-managing director Andrew Seabrook believes Dean has made a very valuable contribution to the country’s thoroughbred industry. “Many thanks are due to Dean for, in particular, lifting the standard of horses in our Ready to Run Sale and helping make it the success it is today,” Andrew said.
“Dean was one of the pioneers of the Ready to Run sale. Under his Anzac Lodge banner Dean’s professionalism and skills have certainly helped take the sale to another level because he was one of the vendors everyone else has tried to emulate.”
The foundation for having such a positive influence was laid down as Dean was growing up. During those years a love of horses was inherited from his father Norman, who was running the Paramount Stud at Hastings in the Hawkes Bay region on the east coast of the north island. Dean remembers that in “the 1970s and into the 80s” his father was standing the highly successful stallions In The Purple (FR), by Right Royal V, and Diplomatic Agent (USA), who was by the Bold Ruler son Envoy.
An important stamina influence, In The Purple’s progeny featured the 1977 Melbourne Cup winner Gold And Black, the 1976 Caulfield Cup winner How Now as well as Amarant, Born To Be Queen and Spectrum. The representatives of Diplomatic Agent included Courier Bay, a four-time Gr.1 winner, Raywood Lass, Bold Diplomat, Embasadora and Diplomante. “In those days, when we had In The Purple and Diplomatic Agent, we were regarded as being one of the better studs in the country,” he said.
Later the stud’s roster consisted of the likes of the Hatchet Man son Half Iced (USA), who had won the 1982 Japan Cup-Gr.1, the multiple stakes winners Dedicated Rullah (USA), by Fleet Nasrullah, and Light Spirits (USA) by Majestic Light.
“I was brought up foaling mares from about the age of eight,” Dean said. “Also from my early years I’d be doing general stud work. In those days we were taking about 20 yearlings to Trentham and then Karaka when New Zealand Bloodstock went there.
“I think I was around 12 when I led a colt by Three Legs from Honeypot into the ring. He turned out to be Jolly Jake, who won a New Zealand Derby and an Avondale Guineas.”
Another notable he looked after was Born To Be Queen, who was from the Diplomatic Agent mare Lady Envoy. In the care of Randwick-based trainer Neville Begg she finished second in the VRC Oaks-Gr.1 and third in the Victoria Derby-Gr.1 in the spring of 1985 before scoring a thoroughly deserved Gr.1 win in the AJC The Metropolitan the next year.
During the years Dean was a boarder at Rathkeale College, on the outskirts of Masterton, his activities around the stud were restricted. But while he “wasn’t great at the old school work”, Rathkeale College did fulfil its motto of “providing a foundation for the future”.
“I was like a horse that needs blinkers and I had to get my arse caned a few times to get me going in the right direction. I didn’t go to university and when I left Rathkeale that was the end of my formal education. After finishing college I began breaking-in some horses and I started three-day eventing.”
The high standing he soon attained as a three-day eventer opened the way for him to spend a year riding in England.
During his stay he had the privilege of teaming up with fellow New Zealander Mark Todd, who was later knighted and adjudged as Rider of the 20th Century by the International Federation of Equestrian Sports.
Added to that he was able to take the opportunity of working at the Marquess of Huntington’s Side Hill Stud, at Newmarket, where 1984 Sussex Stakes-Gr.1 winner Chief Singer was in residence. However, while he was in England Paramount Stud was caught up in the aftermath of the 1987 share market crash.
“I had to come home after about 12 months and Paramount Stud was placed into receivership. With that my brothers Victor and Norman and I started a new company named Paramount Lodge.
“We actually moved up to Cambridge and in the late 1980s we leased Middle Park Stud from the ANZ Bank. We got going again and we stood Half Iced, who had won the Japan Cup in 1982, and a couple of other stallions. We were at Middle Park for about a year until it was bought by Sir Patrick Hogan and made part of the main farm at Cambridge Stud.
“So from Middle Park we just picked up sticks and moved to Field House Stud, at Matamata, which had been bought by a public company named Clearwood. We got up to 10 stallions at one stage. The Victoria Derby winner Omnicorp and Beechcraft, who won a Caulfield Guineas, were there when we arrived. Another stallion was Pharostan and when I think about it Spectacular Love was probably our flag bearer.”
A winner of the Futurity Stakes-Gr.1 in the US Spectacular Love sired 16 stakes winners of the calibre of Calm Harbour, Western Red, Love De Tor, Shatin Heights and Grand Jette. Although the operation was going along nicely Dean decided to “go out on his own” as a breaker.
“My first job breaking in came from Peter Keating, who asked me to break-in 30 horses at Ra Ora Stud. They were mostly home-breds owned by Robert Sangster.”
All the while he was pushing himself to the forefront of the equestrian world and was a member of the New Zealand squad, which trained for the Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992. He also represented New Zealand on a number of occasions as a three-day eventer and among those he came into competition against was Australia’s Andrew Hoy, who won three Olympic Gold Medals.
“We had a good team of eventers and I had a top horse in Anzac,” he said. So when Dean purchased a property as a base for his breaking-in business the obvious name was Anzac Lodge.
“It was pretty intensive and it continued to grow right from the start. Through the 1990s to the early 2000s we were probably the biggest breakers in New Zealand, numbers wise.
“We’d do 180 a year and sometimes 200, a lot of them for Australian owners. That meant having a big staff because we’d do up to 35 horses on a daily basis and that went on from February to August and sometimes longer.
“We were fortunate we were able to use Alan Jones’s training track, which was a great help. Besides that I began prepping yearlings for the sales and we’d have 20 or 30 of them as well as running an agistment farm at Cambridge. We’d have up to 140 horses on the books at the spelling farms and probably 100 of those were owned in Australia.
“I think Australians, especially with the staying type horses, like to leave them to grow and mature in the New Zealand environment after they’ve been bought at the yearling sales. We’d break them in, spell them and send them over in the spring. It is a process that works as Chris Waller has shown with horses such as Kermadec and Preferment.”
Early on Dean also expanded into buying yearlings and preparing them for ready-to-run sales. Among the first of the youngsters he bought, for $10,000, was a colt by Masterclass (USA) from Flying Melody by Karol (IRE). He was subsequently sold at NZB’s Ready to Run Sale for $35,000 to Victorian trainer Tony Noonan. Named Show No Emotion, he proved to be a brilliant performer racing in the white, red stripes of owner Jonathan Munz, winning the VRC Ascot Vale Stakes-Gr.2 in 1997 and the MVRC Moir Stakes-Gr.2 the following season.
“Show No Emotion was the horse who started my involvement with Jonathon Munz and his bloodstock company,” Dean said. “I suppose looking back I have probably been preparing horses for breeze up sales as long as anyone in New Zealand.
“I can go back to the time when they did the breeze ups on a trotting track, because the thoroughbred tracks were too heavy in September when they were held. It wasn’t compulsory to breeze up in those days so I did it once and declared never again, but when changes were made I relented.
“So the year I sold Show No Emotion I videoed the horses at home and put them on a tape. When Tony bought the colt people told him he was ‘mad’ to have bought a horse that hadn’t breezed up. They were wrong because Show No Emotion turned out to be a super star.
“I’m still doing breeze ups and this was my 25th year in a row that I’ve done it. I’ve always said that if I was an owner with plenty of money I’d always buy at the breeze ups, they are fantastic sales. You only have to look at the last few weeks . . . Mongolian Khan, Turn Me Loose and I think the Geelong Derby Trial winner Extra Choice came out of the breeze up for $50,000.”
Dean says since around 1999 or 2000, when he first went to an ABCOS yearling sale in Adelaide, he has been following the Australian sales roster looking for likely types for the breeze ups. “I travel the Australian sales concentrating on pin-hooking opportunities and bringing them back,” he said. “We’ve done really, really well out of that. There is so much variety among Australian sires and a lot of them are the sprinting types we don’t have so many of in New Zealand.
“By buying a speedier product, instead of New Zealand staying types, we have sold a lot to Asia because they don’t have staying races there. They like precocious types and we cottoned on to that early in the piece.
“Going across to Australia I gradually got to know a lot of people and Henry Plumptre, before his Darley days, became a very good supporter. He was looking after horses for Lloyd Williams and I remember one of the horses he gave us was Gallic, who was by Zabeel. Gallic was a marvellous racehorse winning races like a Sydney Cup and an Adelaide Cup at seven and a Moonee Valley Cup at eight.
“A big client in the early days was John Morrissey, who was training for the Gundaroo Syndicate of Len Hoyle and Robin Lees. They were guys who helped get us going.”
During the past few years Dean has also begun to work closely with Whittlesea trainer Peter Morgan. “From a limited number of buys Peter and I have purchased horses such as Eloping, Oasis Bloom, Amah Rock, Averau, Star Rolling, Dusty Star and Zebulon, to name a few. I’ve found Peter a great trainer to work with and along the way we have built up a really, really good stakes winning strike rate.”
Dean has, in recent times, moved away from the breaking-in and reduced the spelling side to concentrate more on managing portfolios of broodmares for clients. Among the last horses to go through “the system” before the Beatsons took over the breaking-in side of things was Melbourne Cup winner Prince of Penzance after he was purchased by bloodstock agent John Foote for $50,000. “We do a lot for John and we looked after Prince of Penzance, in conjunction with the Beatsons, until he was ready to go over to Darren Weir.”
As the newer part of his business has been growing a considerable amount of Dean’s time is being taken up with handling the interests of Jonathan Munz’s GSA Bloodstock, which has its headquarters at Pinecliff, at Mount Eliza, on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. “The work I do with Jonathan Munz’s GSA Bloodstock is very big. Altogether we have a massive breeding portfolio of mares owned by clients . . . probably up to a 100, with the bulk of them in the Hunter Valley. This involves a lot of work and means a lot of travelling around Australia and going to Europe for the sales looking for the right horses to buy for people.”
The ever-increasing demand for his services resulted in him making quite an impact at the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale on the Gold Coast in the middle of last year. His 21 purchases for $4m-plus included The Broken Shore, who was knocked down for $1.9m as part the Teeley Dispersal.
By Hussonet (USA) from the Canny Lad mare Shantha’s Choice she is a half-sister to the Gr.1 winners Redoute’s Choice, Platinum Scissors and Manhattan Rain.
Many of the other purchases were for GSA Bloodstock and were sent to Haunui Farm, at Karaka, to be mated with Ferlax, who was standing his first season. Bought by Dean on behalf of GSA Bloodstock for $NZ180,000 at the 2011 New Zealand Bloodstock Yearling Sale Ferlax, who is by Pentire (GB) from the Marscay mare Legs Akimbo, won the VRC Australian Guineas-Gr.1 and three other races before being retired because of injury.
“In light of how few new sires were being introduced into New Zealand last year we realised there were going to be a limited number of yearlings by first season at the Karaka sales in 2017,” Dean said. With Pentire having so much success in New Zealand we thought it was a better idea to standing Ferlax at Haunui than in Australia.
“With our spending spree Ferlax will definitely have some yearlings of Premier and Select quality a little over a year from now. We also bought up again this year to support Ferlax and the Redoute’s Choice horse Scissor Kick, who is a Gr.3 winner and was second in the Golden Rose-Gr.1. GSA has a decent shareholding in Scissor Kick, who will presumably be going to stud at Arrowfield next year. We’ve already got some wonderful foals from by Ferlax so with his youngsters, and those to come by Scissor Kick, we have a lot to look forward to in the years ahead.”