For recently appointed TBV board member Kayley Johnston, the co-owner of Rushton Park broodmare farm based in Dhurringile in Victoria she is thrilled to share her love of the industry with her breeding community and is passionate about making an impact in ensuring that the Victorian industry continues to grow and prosper.
Originally from Western Australia, Kayley and her husband David had a small hobby farm to start with, with David training privately for a close group of owners.
“I introduced David to horses, as I have an equestrian background. I even taught him to ride and while I had designs on him to hopefully be interested in eventing or show jumping, he caught the racing bug and ended up heading off to trackwork instead. He then got his owners – trainers licence, and slowly the equestrian horses were replaced with racehorses.”
As their horse business grew, and they outgrew their modest 15-acre property, they struck Perth’s massive mining boom.
“Land became harder and harder to find to lease, and more expensive to purchase so we looked to Victoria as an option as I already had family in Melbourne. We came over and did some research, and when we found a good-sized block in the thoroughbred breeding region, we decided to give it a go. We have since purchased the neighbouring property, to give us a total land size of 300 acres, which is perfect for our current operation,” Kayley said.
Established in 2000, Rushton Park was named after their original property in Western Australia, which was located on Rushton Road – “David thought it would be bad luck to change it, so the name came with us all the way over the Nullarbor.”
“Being in the thoroughbred triangle was important as we wanted to have access to the best vets and services, and now with the number of walk-on mares we manage, we are also in the perfect position to easily travel to the main thoroughbred stallions and studs.”
“We have a lovely mix of country, and our land has soft rolling slopes to allow drainage, while the flats down the back of the property are perfect for the mares and foals to always access green, lush pick,” Kayley said.
“The entire property has been developed from scratch. The infrastructure includes stables, day yards, walker, a round yard for lunging, tack box, vet room and crush so we can efficiently and effectively manage our horse numbers.”
Now Rushton Park specialises in equal parts trading horses and foaling. They have been busy this season with permanent clients and their own private mares, while the trading side encompasses all of Rushton Park’s bloodstock sales, yearling and weanling preparation, as well as mare and mixed bloodstock sales.
“We have had some great results of late with two of the top 10 lots sold at the recent Magic Millions breeze-ups were graduates of ours. A Shooting to Win x Iberian Miss colt sold by Nolan Racing to Waterford Bloodstock for $230,000 was pin-hooked by us as a weanling and sold through our Adelaide Magic Millions draft,” Kayley said.
While Rushton Park’s yearling sales highlights include selling a lovely Foxwedge filly out of their mare Bardego, a half to Volpe Veloce and Delago Bolt for $300,000 at Premier in 2017, and in 2018 they topped the sale with the outstanding Fastnet Rock filly out of Group 3 winner Lady Melksham (Artie Schiller). Bred by Ian and Vicki Bell through their Campolina operation, it was beautifully prepared and presented to catch the eye of the global Godolphin operation.
“A recent graduate, Mr Money Bags won the Silver Bowl final at Flemington who we raised on farm and sold through our 2016 Magic Millions Adelaide draft. He looks set to tackle some black type races in the future for Griffiths Racing and Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock.”
With hardly time to catch a breath after the busy foaling season, the family-run operation they are now turning their attention to the upcoming sales, with their Magic Millions draft now in full swing.
“We will be taking nine yearlings to the Gold Coast, fifteen to Melbourne Premier and six over to Adelaide, so it’s all go around here,” Kayley said.
“Our five-year-old, Patrick is mad keen to lend a hand and although still a little young to put on the books, he is eager to be around the thoroughbreds. You have to keep an eye on him, as he’s into everything, but at the moment he is loving being involved.”
“There are exciting times ahead for the local industry, with great investment, and brilliant support for the VOBIS scheme. We are certainly big supporters of Team Victoria and Rushton Park is proudly flying the flag down south.”