It’s something old and something new for a draft at this year’s Inglis Premier Sale.

The something ‘old’ (not by age!) are the well known Darren and Liz Dance (of Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock fame) while the new kid on the block is their new partner Esker Lodge Australia.

Esker Lodge Australia operates out of Darren & Liz Dance’s stud and agistment property, Manningtree Park, at Beremboke between Melbourne and Ballarat.

The property was originally established for the Dance’s racehorses and broodmares, but with the arrival of two well-respected Kiwis at the farm, they have expanded the operation to include yearling preparation. The first draft will be at the upcoming Inglis Premier Sale.

“Tom and Shelly Murtagh came over from New Zealand to manage our farm at the start of August, as part of a dedicated team looking after the property,” Darren Dance said.

“Well-known through New Zealand’s Esker Lodge, they are both exceptionally experienced and have a wealth of knowledge and professionalism behind them,” Darren Dance said.

“They are involved in the buying and selling of the weanlings, yearlings and broodmares and all the foaling down. They have done a brilliant job preparing the first debut draft under our yearling preparation brand, Esker Lodge Australia.

“This group of yearlings going to the sales are homebreds, bar a couple which we are preparing on behalf of clients.

“They are a lovely group of well-grown yearlings with something to suit everyone. We are very happy with them and are looking forward to having a terrific sale.”

One of their standout lots is 392, a Zoustar colt out of Flying Hula (Flying Spur), a mare Darren and Liz raced. With Zoustar hot to trot now, he will be expected to sell very well.

“He a lovely well-grown, very correct colt with a great, can-do temperament. Although there are a lot of Zoustars in the sale, we believe ours will be very popular. He is in perfect order, very sensible and we couldn’t be happier with him.”

Another yearling that is close to Darren’s heart is the Lot 488 Fastnet Rock filly out of their high-class Lonhro race mare Lonhspresso.

“I bought Lonhspresso as a weanling. She was trained by Darren Weir…not only was she a multiple city winner; she secured the Group 2 Euclase Stakes along the way. This filly is a real product of my time, effort and passion as a breeder. We have gone the full cycle with her, which is so rewarding.”

With a broodmare band now numbering thirty-five, Darren and Liz currently have twenty-five foals on the ground at Manningtree Park.

“We have a great selection going to the weanling sales, while the others are headed to next years Melbourne’s Premier sale,” Darren said.

“We are proud and passionate Victorians. We bought two well-bred Snitzel colts last year (at the Easter Sale) with the dream of turning them into Group winning horses and standing them here in Victoria.

“I am pro-Victorian and we have nominated all of our eligible yearlings for VOBIS and VOBIS Sires. Looking to the future, we want to be seen as a major seller at the Melbourne Inglis Premier sale.”

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