Above: Lot 73 Lonhro x Hangin’ Tough colt
Merricks Station have been going from strength to strength since they first started selling at Melbourne Premier in 2019. This is driven by the infectious passion and dedication of Ben Cooper and the team around him. In the last twelve months the farm has doubled in size to nearly 200 acres and the team has grown significantly with it. This year they will be taking a draft of thirteen to the sale of which ten are bred from the farm. ‘It is our biggest and best draft that we have offered. We had six yearlings in 2019 which was our first year of selling. We wanted to have ten to fifteen horses going through the sale and this is the first year we have reached that level’. Merricks Station decided to focus purely on Melbourne Premier as they appreciate the good work Inglis do at the sale and wanted to keep all their yearlings in Victoria.
Merricks Station is based on the Mornington Peninsula and is a stunning property. Ben has had a focus on the state-of-the-art facilities with a property that is as beautiful as it is functional. ‘We have the capacity to have the bigger rolling paddocks for the yearlings to grow out on however, currently with the sale around the corner they are in the smaller paddocks to protect them. The larger paddocks are a huge benefit to a yearlings development allowing them to build natural strength over time.’
Ben explains that there has been a focus on sourcing quality broodmares whilst selecting leading sires. Majority of the pedigree pages include Black Type mares or siblings which has been a conscious decision when selecting the broodmares. ‘It is one of those things that good things take time. We have had to acquire the good quality broodmares and get them in foal to the right stallion. This year we have a strong mix of well-related mares and very commercial stallions including Pierro, Sebring and Lonhro to name a few.’
Ben, who for many years has been on the other side as a buyer has strongly considered what he looks for at the sales which is strong athletic types with active families and the residual value with the fillies and believes this is what people what to see at the sales.
One of the stand-out yearlings in the draft is Lot 73, a son of Lonhro out of the Exceed and Excel mare Hangin’ Tough. Hangin’ Tough is three-quarter to Helmet and Pearls. ‘The first foal by the mare that we sold is a gelding called Tuvalu that Lindsay Smith trains. He’s won his first two start by a combined 10 lengths. Lindsay Smith believes he’s a Group horse in the making.’
Another one to highlight is Lot 438, a colt by Pierro out of Whistle Baby. ‘We raced Whistle Baby and she is a Group placed mare winning over $500,000 in prizemoney. She is a tough mare and has thrown a really nice Pierro colt. Anyone looking for a good quality colt with a nice page is going to be looking at him’
An impressive statistic is that Merricks Station are on 100% horses sold to winners with those that have been bred and raised on the farm. This year ten of the thirteen have been bred on the farm with the other three as agent. ‘We have had the ultimate care of the ten horses and so we are hoping that the strike rate can continue. It is really exciting that we have ten horses that we have cared for all the way through that we can take to the sale.’
Ben has confidence ahead of the sale after the results seen at Magic Millions and more recently Classic Sale. ‘Our gut feeling is that it is going to be a strong sale as both Magic Millions and Classic have sold well. We also still race a number of horses and there are still people who have horses to buy and orders to fill and we are hopeful that Melbourne fits that bill.’
Merricks Station have nominated all of their ten horses for VOBIS and Ben explains the impact the scheme can have at the sale both as a buyer and seller.
‘The VOBIS Scheme is really attractive, I know as a seller but also a buyer that you want those horses with the VOBIS sticker as it helps you recoup a lot of costs early on particularly when they focus the bonuses on the 2yo and 3yo’s.’
To view the full draft click here.