In October 2015, tragedy struck at then Smeaton based Moorookyle Park when Robyn Shakespeare’s much-loved stakes winning sire Hurdy Gurdy Man succumbed to an immediate colic attack.
The homebred Street Cry stallion had only just entered the breeding barn after a successful race track career collecting nearly half a million in prizemoney including a Hobart Cup victory.
He would serve just the three mares in his short breeding career, but Robyn Shakespeare happily reports two live foals were born and both have entered racing stables.
And this racing season, the late sire is a ‘first crop sire’ taking on the likes of Brazen Beau, Dissident and Deep Field…albeit with just the one filly and one colt!
The filly is Robyn’s homebred. Now in the stables of Darren Weir like her sire, she has been named Robyn’s Folly!
With her breeding and racing enthusiast husband Ed passing away in 2014, Robyn accepts that the filly will possibly be the last of the Shakespeare homebreds, but she fondly remembers the early days of their breeding venture.
“It’s funny how we began all those years ago. Ed was an accountant, but he went against his better financial advice and followed his passion for thoroughbred pedigrees and mating plans. I remember him sending a fax to Bryan Muschialli to order two mares, including Hurdy Gurdy’s dam, Abalone and that‘s how it started,” Robyn explained.
“We knew nothing about horses, we even had to ask Bryan what to feed them, but we soon learned and the horses became a wonderful part of our lives.
“We were incredibly lucky, as one thing I do know about horse racing is that there is good luck and there is bad luck…and that’s all there is…and it can change in a flash.
“Ed and I had so much fun picking the names of our horses…Hurdy Gurdy Man, Boogie Woogie Man, Hoochie Coochie Man, so when they found out that I called her Robyn’s Folly, the stable was a bit disappointed, but it’s quite apt really.”
“We owe so much to Darren Weir. We were there when he first moved to Ballarat, and he kept Hurdy Gurdy sound, kept him going and persevered with him. I’m sure he will look after Robyn’s Folly the same.”
Robyn also acknowledged Hurdy Gurdy’s strapper Rachel Vanderlinden who loved and cared for the country champ as if he was her own.
“I just loved him, and he had a great attitude, and being short and chunky, he would always like to make out he was bigger than he was,” Vanderlinden said.
Ed’s death in 2014 came just days before Hurdy Gurdy Man was to defend his Hobart Cup title – a victory in 2013 neither Robyn or Ed were present at due to their youngest son getting married that weekend…”but Ed sure did put up a protest” said Robyn.
“In 2014, he was nominated to defend the cup. We were all so excited as Darren was full of high hopes that he would go back to back. Tragically, on February the fifth, only days before the race, Ed had a stroke and passed away.”
“I gave my son all the tickets and passes to attend on our behalf, a trip away for their first wedding anniversary to Tasmania, but as luck would have it, the race meeting was abandoned due to a freak weather event, and Hurdy Gurdy Man was retired, never to race again.”
He was named Victorian Country Horse of the Year for the 2013/2014 racing season courtesy of his wins in the Murtoa and Hamilton Cups, before also running into the money in the Ballarat Cup (third), Werribee Cup (second) and the Bagot Handicap (second) that same campaign.
He was then retired to Nioka Wozny’s Moorookyle Park before dying in October 2015.
“He was just a beautiful, beautiful horse, and was a pleasure to do anything with and he had taken to his new career wonderfully,” Wozny said.
So now it will be left to Shakespeare’s Robyn’s Folly and her paternal brother, a horse nicknamed ‘Nash’ (out of Honours List mare Honourable Miss) to follow in their sire’s hoofprints.
‘Nash’ has been broken and is in training with Hamilton based Brittany Goodwin who bred him along with her partner Bram. The colt is currently enjoying a spell before heading to the track later this season.