Nestled in the heart of Victoria’s breeding hub, just outside Avenel on a stunning 130-acre property lies Hollylodge Throughbreds. A specialist broodmare farm, started by Christine Mills and Terry Nevill, which has been in operation since 1998. The business is now under the ownership of Daniel Nevill, who has the challenge of taking the farm to the next level.
Daniel has been involved with the farm since he was fourteen and very much learnt on the job. Every year during school holidays and most weekends when he wasn’t playing football he was assisting with the farm duties.
“I learnt everything from foaling, to weaning, to stallions, to breeding mares from a very young age. I have been around horses pretty much my whole life”. Daniel said.
In order to gain further experience in the industry, Daniel worked for Swettenham Stud, Erinvale Thoroughbreds, Chatswood Stud and Ultra Thoroughbreds at the Magic Millions Gold Coast, Melbourne Premier, and Adelaide yearling sales over the years. This has given Daniel a rounded understanding of each aspect of the industry which ensures Hollylodge are able to meet all their client’s needs.
A few years ago, Daniel took a break from the industry and became a plasterer in Melbourne.
“I had been around horses all my life and just fancied doing something different for a couple of years. I always wanted to come back to horses.” He said.
It wasn’t long before he was lured back to set up the new farm for Hollylodge Thoroughbreds which has since been going from strength to strength. This was emphasised by Daniel who stated ‘we are just trying to improve every season and offer the best results for our clients’.
Hollylodge Thoroughbreds takes a very innovative approach and Daniel enjoys working in an industry in which you are always learning and evolving by seeking new ways of doing things that ultimately bring better results. Hollylodge Throughbreds has predominantly been a foaling and broodmare farm, although recently Daniel has been taking more of interest in preparing yearlings.
“I like the young horses and watching them develop into racehorses and then onto the track”.
This year will be our biggest year yet as we get ready to foal down over 50 mares and walk on approximately 80 mares to Victorian stallions. In addition, Hollylodge aims to prepare ten to fifteen yearlings for the Melbourne Premier sale.
Although Hollylodge offers a comprehensive range of services, it aims to offer a very personalised service to clients. The success of the farm is dependent on the team of staff. ‘I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without Lauren Hosking who always goes above and beyond to get the job done. “Lauren has been with me for the last 4 years and it is her loyalty that has given me the confidence to grow the business further.”
A hands-on approach is taken to all parts of the farm and the staff are all equal.
“Everyone works as a family” remarked Daniel.
Daniel’s partner Dr Katie Wilcox, heads up the team at Avenel Equine Hospital and is Hollylodge Thoroughbreds vet and a huge part of the team. “I have some really great clients who trust myself and Katie and that makes it easy.”
The hands on hard work that Daniel has put into the business has really paid off as Hollylodge Thoroughbreds is thriving.
Over the years Daniel has been lucky enough to care for some very special horses.
“The one that I remember the most is ‘May’s Dream’ who I foaled many years ago after a struggle to get her mum, ‘She’s Archie’ in foal. May’s Dream went on to win the south Australian Oaks and was second in the 1000 Guineas both at Group 1 level. She’s Archie is a mare that many of us may remember running second to Makybe Diva in the 2003 Melbourne Cup.”
Although Daniel gained knowledge from his family and learning on the job, he also owes a lot to vet Terry Lowis, “He was very practical, and an extremely good vet, who took the time to teach me.”
In addition, Simon Vivian from Inglis and Ian Smith from Edinburgh Park Stud, are always available for good advice and a chat about the industry and have provided Daniel with a great sounding board.
Without hesitation, if Daniel would have entered into a career away from horses, a Greens keeper on a golf course would have been his calling. Although more for the care of the greens and not his handicap according to Daniel.
The one piece of advice that Daniel would give to anyone wishing to enter into the industry is;
“Never stop listening, form your own opinion and always be open to other people’s advice. With horses you are always learning, it’s a disease only curable by death”.