Growing up in the Mallee town of Japarit, Todd Martin was introduced to horses at an early age by his Grandparents who were the local Publicans and involved in racing horses as well as greyhounds with local trainers. Initially being involved in racehorse ownership, Todd raced horses with James Riley and Luke Oliver at Caulfield and was part of the ownership group of Luke’s first two winners.
In 1999, Todd and his wife Madeleine purchased a 60-acre property in Willowmavin, located between Lancefield and Kilmore. The farm was named Hopetoun Lodge, in a nod to his family’s Japarit pub, the Hopetoun House Hotel. Whilst holding down a senior executive position with a large public company in the chemical and explosives industry, Todd spent his weekends and holidays slowly developing his property. With a strong love of horses, getting involved in the breeding industry seemed like a natural progression.
One of the first mares Todd bred from was Lustre, whom he purchased from Darley. Working full time in the corporate world which required regular international travel, Todd has been fortunate to have his wife who is a local school teacher in Lancefield, and 16 year old son Tom, to help with the day to day running of the farm in his absence. Todd also has an 18-year-old daughter who is a very talented ballet and contemporary dancer. Ever the keen student, over the years Todd has been studying bloodlines with great interest as well as seeking guidance and improving his knowledge from fellow industry participants, David and Kayley Johnson of Rushton Park.
Last February Todd helped to oversee the sale of the company he was working for. Swapping corporate life for a Driza-Bone, Todd now plans to concentrate on developing his breeding interests further. He currently has 5 broodmares at Hopetoun Lodge, a number for now he is happy with no plans to take in any outside horses.
‘I would rather focus on quality over quantity.” He added, noting that with the farm consisting of 60 acres, he is keen not to over utilise the land.
In 2010, Todd purchased a broodmare Lustre who was in foal to Ad Valorem for $6,500 at the Inglis March Sale that year and continued to breed from her over subsequent seasons. Progeny include Golden Lustre (Written Tycoon) who was bought as a yearling in 2016 for $60,000 to race with Philip Stokes and that same year her weanling Arizona Ranch (High Chaparral) fetched $90,000. In 2018 Sweeping the Board (Toronado) was purchased at the Inglis Premier Yearling Sale by Yulong Investments for $95,000. Earlier this year when Lustre passed away aged 19, Todd bought back her daughter Golden Lustre for $50,000 at the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale. Currently still in training, she will return to Hopetoun for the upcoming breeding season.
Todd has been fortunate to have the support of many people along the way as he has increased his knowledge of the breeding industry, including David Burke of DeBurca Farm and the team at Supreme Thoroughbreds. Todd foals down most of the mares at home and other mares go to Rushton Park.
“A challenge I have found since becoming more involved in the breeding industry is the accessibility to certain stallions,” said Todd.
“The high service fees that some stallions command can make it difficult for smaller breeders to be commercially successful.”
When it comes to purchasing horses, Adam Sangster, Jason Robinson and Sam Matthews of Swettenham Stud have provided guidance, with Sam also bidding on Todd’s behalf on sales day. One of Todd’s latest additions to Hopetoun Lodge is the former Chris Waller trained mare We Betcha. Purchased for $100,000 and by Encosta de Lago, the mare showed great talent on the track and more recently as a broodmare producing able progeny. With recent winners on the track, the mare also has a yearling by Starspangledbanner.
To date, Hopetoun Lodge have bred and sold 24 horses of which 19 are of racing age. 15 of these horses have gone on to win 43 races, with 5 of these at City level. The current model at Hopetoun Lodge is to sell their young stock through the ring and retain a small share.
“Advice I would give to anyone who wants to get involved in the breeding industry like I have, is that reconnaissance is essential before making decisions. Engage as much knowledge as you can with the network that is accessible to you rather than making a decision and then realising it is a mistake.”