Above: A view of Cornwall Park

Just 50km or so up the Calder Freeway from Melbourne stands an historic property that has enjoyed more than one heyday, once as Gnotuk Park as part of a large pastoral estate, later as a local centre for innovation in agricultural machinery.

A large homestead, still standing with a heritage overlay due to its attractive Federation style, was built in the late 1890s and since then the farm has benefitted from a variety of uses; during and after WWII as a holiday spot for those looking to get away from the big smoke and later the following century as base for the popular annual Djerriwarrh Festival.

But to those in the horse racing world, it is best known as Cornwall Park.

Owned and operated by the Trescowthick family, Cornwall Park was home to a number of popular stallions (at a later time under the banner of the Independent Stallion Station) but its paddocks had been mostly empty in the years before the farm’s sale in early 2017.

Fast forward to late May 2020 and Ballarat trainer Pat Cannon happens to pay a visit, that evening tweeting… “Cornwall Park is virtually empty… a great old stud still in excellent order, would be a great opportunity for a new breeder.”

Spying that tweet was Arrowfield Stud’s Stephen Irwin, friend to Peter Boyle and Lisa Gordon, a Hunter Valley based couple with a long history of involvement in the thoroughbred breeding industry. They had been on the lookout for a while for the perfect farm though it was not until their successful photography business (LMG Photography) took a Covid hit that they stepped up their search.

“Our work stopped like a freight train,” Lisa said, “which forced our hand a bit. But we had both been keen to come back into thoroughbreds… it is an addiction after all!”

Above: Peter Boyle and Lisa Gordon

Reading Cannon’s tweet on a Friday evening, the couple sprung into action – driving to Victoria the following day, viewing the farm on the Saturday, signing the dotted (lease) line on the Tuesday – and moving in the following weekend!

“It was a whirlwind,” Lisa joked, adding that an instant rapport with Cornwall Park’s current owners Alex and Nicole McIntyre helped to speed things up.

“They are the loveliest people we could ever hope to meet,” Lisa said. “They had tried different things for the farm from glamping to agistment and realised what would be most perfect is for someone to restore Cornwall Park to its former glory, for it to once again become a successful thoroughbred stud… enter us!”

And so in the three hectic weeks since their move to Victoria, Peter and Lisa have been “cleaning, gardening and mowing” and are “ready to fill the paddocks with beautiful thoroughbreds again!”

“It is great to see Pete able to utilize his 25 years working at studs,” Lisa said, noting that he brings to Cornwall “a wealth of experience following long term associations with such famed thoroughbred nurseries as Segenhoe Stud, Byerley Stud, Baerami Thoroughbreds and Emirates Park Stud.”

Lisa also boasts an impressive equine resume having competed in a variety of disciplines from a young age, devoting years to her passion of horse photography.

“I am going to juggle photography and Cornwall Park,” she said, already delighted with the response from breeders – “we have had so many people say how happy they are to see us here… and we are really keep to make our mark!”

And already a stallion has been found to launch Peter and Lisa’s reincarnation of Cornwall Park with Redoute’s Choice’s Gr.1 Spring Champion Stakes winning son Hampton Court arriving late last week, immediately settling in.

Above: Hampton Court who has recently arrived at Cornwall Park

“He is such a gentleman, just so easy to work with,” Peter said of the striking bay who has sired 19 runners from his first 35 runners in Australia, America, Canada, Malaysia and South America.

A $500,000 Easter graduate trained by Gai Waterhouse, Hampton Court won the Listed Dulcify Stakes and the Gr.1 Spring Champion Stakes (defeating First Seal) before starting favourite but ending up in the wrong part of the track in the Gr.1 VRC Derby.

A son of the imported stakes winner Roses ‘N’ Wine from the family of superstar mare Makybe Diva, Hampton Court is still in the early stages of his stud career with his first local crop being only three.

“He will stand at a very reasonable $2,500,” Peter said, keen to support local breeders.

“Hopefully he can attract some nice mares whose owners are willing to give him a try for a small outlay,” he said, also hoping to attract business to the “new” farm… “we are looking forward to creating and building our piece of thoroughbred history here in the coming years.”

Meanwhile Lisa is keen to expand on her equine photography business, available for stud shoots whilst also happy to open Cornwall Park to visitors – its large and well equipped auditorium suitable for functions, horse sales and conferences.

Above: The auditorium at Cornwall Park

Visit us at www.cornwallpark.com.au or get in touch:

Peter: 0427 459 795 peter@cornwallpark.com.au

Lisa: 0439 000 671 lisa@cornwallpark.com.au