History propelling iconic stud forward

History propelling iconic stud forward3 Sep 2018

-Story courtesy of Paul Vettise, TDN AusNZ

Brendan and Jo Lindsay have a unique strategy to celebrate Cambridge Stud’s rich heritage. TDN AusNZ spoke to them about their future plans for the internationally-renowned nursery.

Brendan and Jo Lindsay are on a mission to take Cambridge Stud to a new level, but with a genuine nod to the past. They have huge respect for the remarkable achievements of previous owners Sir Patrick and Justine Lady Hogan and are determined to pay homage to them and to the farm’s history.

“Look, we’re just keepers of the brand and it’s not about this generation, it’s all about the next,” Brendan Lindsay said. “We’re on a heck of a learning curve and we decided when we sold our plastics business (Sistema) that it if didn’t have an f in it for fun then we wouldn’t do it – Cambridge Stud has a capital f in it.”

The Lindsays took ownership of Cambridge Stud in April and have set about major renovations with both the future and the past at the heart of their work.

“In business, if you sat down in a boardroom and said we’re going to buy a stud farm you’d get laughed out,” Brendan Lindsay said. “We did it because it’s a great opportunity.

“Jo and I are very passionate about racing and breeding and we are very lucky that we were in a position to take the opportunity to carry on Sir Patrick’s work. We had heard through a third party that there were approaches from offshore and Jo and I and Sir Patrick were keen for the stud to remain in New Zealand ownership.”

Sir Patrick said at the time that he was delighted to hand the baton to Brendan and Jo Lindsay. “Many different parties have made approaches to us, however Justine and I were determined to wait for both the right time and the right people - that was non-negotiable for us.

“Cambridge Stud has been our lives for over four decades. We have nurtured it, been its guardians and have proudly seen it evolve into the globally respected operation it is today. We know that Cambridge Stud could not be in better hands.

“Everyone knows that Brendan and Jo Lindsay are deeply passionate about both our industry and our country and Cambridge Stud certainly holds a unique place in both. For Justine and me, this is a dream come true - we can look ahead with great confidence to the future that Cambridge Stud is assured through its new ownership.”

The Lindsays have subsequently embarked on works and renovations with a tribute the past at the centre of their plans.

“We’ve since undertaken a major building programme with a new hospitality centre and office block and we’re also building a museum to showcase Sir Tristram and Zabeel,” Brendan Lindsay said. “We think it extremely important to stress the stud’s history.

“It’s an iconic property, there’s been 142 Group winners come off it, and we want people to come here and enjoy it. We’ve had approaches from people who are keen to be involved in the project.

“We’ve spoken to a curator of a museum in Australia and we’ve talked to the Racing Hall of Fame. Putting it all together is a challenge and we want to make it inter-active and just let everybody enjoy their time here.”

Lindsay said their aim was take Cambridge Stud to the masses. “Sir Patrick broke through a lot of boundaries and the industry owes him so much. I can remember being here back in January and a bus turned up from an old peoples’ home in Tauranga.

“Whether it’s a school trip or whatever, we want to welcome there here. Most people have got connections to racing in some way and we hope to capture that.”

The Lindsays’ involvement began early through family connections. “Jo’s father was an average gambler and my Dad would go to the TAB on a Saturday and we spent a lot of time as children at the races,” Brendan Lindsay said.

“I bought my first horse with Trevor McKee and had a bit of success. It was by Centaine and called Maintain so it was Trevor who introduced me to ownership and that’s when I really caught the bug.

“It gets into your blood and we all have such high hopes and now and again dreams do come true, but to be a good winner you have to be a better loser. Racing is a sport and not a sport of kings – it’s there for everybody to be involved in some way.”

Lindsay said they were fortunate to have inherited skilled staff and subsequently added to the line-up with the appointment of the experienced and respected Henry Plumptre as chief executive. “We were lucky enough to get Henry on board and having Marcus Corban (stud manager) staying on. We don’t have the experience to run this business and passion can only get you half-way.

“In this game, enthusiasm can carry you a long way and everything has slotted into place. We’ve just had so much support from breeders as well.”

Quality Stallion Roster

Cambridge Stud is home to stakes producers Tavistock (NZ) (Montjeu {IRE}), Burgundy (NZ) (Redoute’s Choice) and Highly Recommended (Fastnet Rock), who has relocated this season from the South Island, and they have been joined by the European Group 1 winner Almanzor (FR) (Wootton Bassett {GB}). His recruitment was sparked by the stud’s Head of Sales and Nominations Scott Calder.

“Scott worked for Coolmore in America and they tried to buy the horse off the track,” Lindsay said. “He said to us - you guys need to seriously look at this horse.

“At the time, I thought it was too much money, having just bought the stud, but in the end Henry and Scott said to take the business to another level we’ve got to invest back into the industry and we did need a headline horse.

“We can’t afford to shop in Australia and don’t have $50 or $60 million, our industry isn’t strong enough to justify that. Almanzor is going to suit more mares than most, he’s the perfect outcross, and he was a serious horse – he won Group 1s in three different countries and the other thing is that he backs it all up with his looks and temperament.”

Triple Group 1 Winner

Almanzor won six of his 11 starts, including the G1 Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly, the G1 Champion S., at Ascot and the G1 Irish Champion S., at Leopardstown and will naturally be heavily supported by the stud.

“We took over 80 broodmares from Sir Patrick and we had 40 of our own,” Lindsay said. “Since then, we’ve retired or sold about 25 of those mares, some of the bloodlines had come to an end and we’re looking to build up again.”

The Lindsays will also recruit from their racing string of well-bred fillies and mares, the majority of them based at their private training facility at Karaka under the guidance of Lance Noble.

While the Cambridge Stud brand has been etched into New Zealand racing history, the Lindsay's have grand ambitions to carry that legacy forward into the future.