As we welcomed the official start of Spring last weekend, we watched the impressive victory of Scales of Justice in the first Group 1 of the season. Scales of Justice will not be stopping there as the next target is the Group 1 Maykbe Diva Stakes at Flemington this weekend.
A horse that was bred by Gerard and Kathy Hammond, Millford Throughbreds had the opportunity to prepare the colt on their behalf for the Melbourne Premier Sales.
Jarrod Byers, joint owner of Millford Thoroughbreds, has always had a passion for the horses. An interest that started from an early age, after attending the races with his uncle Barry and Dad, it was the competition of the racetrack and I dare say, having a few punts, which attracted Jarrod to the industry.
“I followed the racing as a kid and would have a quaddie with Dad on the weekends. I’ve always loved the racing and having a punt.”
Jarrod did not grow up with horses around him, his Dad and brother are electricians and it seemed to be a likely career for Jarrod. However, it was the love of horses that drew him to the breeding industry.
The infectious passion for the industry has been passed onto the family who are involved both in the breeding and racing side. “They have interests in about twelve horses now. They love it.” remarked Jarrod.
During school Jarrod was offered work experience on a few breeding farms which only accentuated his passion for the horses and from that point on he knew that it was the industry he wanted to work in.
“I met Stefan Kaempf when I did one of my first work experiences, who had previously worked at Arrowfield and was managing a farm near Shepparton at the time. He got me involved in the pedigree side of things which I found really interesting, as I had always just followed the racing. He opened my eyes to the breeding side of the industry and is a wealth of knowledge with pedigrees.”
A convert into the breeding side of the industry, Jarrod enrolled to study the horse breeding and management course at Wangaratta. Following this, it was time to put his knowledge to the test out on the farms.
Jarrod spent time working at Collingrove in New South Wales and prior to setting up Millford Thoroughbreds spent five years at Newlands Thoroughbreds with his now business partner, Richard Kerry. Jarrod was assistant manager to Richard at Newlands Thoroughbreds, “We had a good working relationship and had worked together for quite a while. He has always been a mentor for me.”
After deciding to take the plunge, Richard and Jarrod set up Millford Thoroughbreds eleven years go and haven’t looked back since. Westbrook Park was on their radar and immediately they took up the opportunity to lease it. They did not require much persuasion, Jarrod remarked “it had already proved that the farm is a good source of growing out young stock, they grew out Littorio who went on to win a couple of Group 1’s and the farm is well located in the heart of the North East.”
As with all rural industries, the breeding industry faces many challenges.
“The hours are very demanding, especially during the breeding season. It can be difficult to find staff particularly with those hours and demands.”
Millford Thoroughbreds have a small but great team behind them, this success is really showing both at the farm and at the racetrack.
Precious Gem is a horse that has been testament to that success, who was bred at Millford Thoroughbreds.
“We bred the mare, and then went on to race her with family and friends and won the Group 1 Robert Sangster Stakes in Adelaide, which was a huge thrill.”
Jarrod is passionate about the industry in Victoria, “our racing is obviously very strong, and our location in Victoria is great for clientele. There is a good vibe about Victoria especially this season with the new investors, namely Yulong and Aquis, and some exciting new stallions now standing in Victoria. We are buoyant about this season and heading forward with the industry in Victoria, as well as the benefit of Super VOBIS which is great.”
The passion for the industry was very apparent when talking to Jarrod and his advice to pass on to anyone interested in the industry is, “Regardless of your background or experience, I believe if you have willingness to learn and a passion for it, then there is an abundance of opportunities.”