A passion for the Thoroughbred industry started at a very young age for Ryan Arnel, the principle of Stonehouse Thoroughbreds.
“It was from my grandma who started one of the first TAB’s in Victoria. I was the young lad who use to run down to the local pub to put bets on for her. That is where the passion started.” laughed Ryan.
It was the 1992 Melbourne Cup that was the pinnacle moment for Ryan ‘Subzero winning the Cup. It was the first bet I was allowed to put on myself and my grandma told me, as her favourite jockey at the time was Greg Hall, this is the horse that is coming in.’
Ryan went on to say that “Although the industry is surrounded by 2-year-olds and Australia are very dominant in that area, I still think that the classic races is just what racing is about, you can’t beat it. The Melbourne Cup can’t be described any better than the race that stops the Nation.”
Although the start of Ryan’s career was in agriculture where he managed a livestock farm, he always knew that the thoroughbred industry was where he wanted to be. Following completion of the equine course at Marcus Oldham College, Ryan had a vision for owning his own thoroughbred farm.
In order to achieve his dream, Ryan took the decision to get experience overseas. “My long-term goal was always to have my own farm. I thought to start my own business I have to gather as much experience as possible on a range of different areas. I firmly believe and still do to this day, that the industry is a worldwide platform and you need that experience. It is almost a criteria for success to experience the overseas industry.”
This included a spell in the UK working at Mickley Stud in Shropshire and a stint at Tweenhills Stud, where he was assistant manager to David Redvers. This was timely for Ryan, as shortly after starting with Tweenhills, Sheikh Fahad became a client.
“We were right on the initial start of where it was taking off with Qatar. Instantly we were surrounded by some fantastic horses which included Dunaden who went on to win the Melbourne Cup.”
In addition to the UK, Ryan spent time in France and also had the opportunity to shuttle a stallion in Chile for four months.
“They couldn’t speak English, but they could say Melbourne Cup,” remarked Ryan. During his time overseas, Ryan took the advice from his grandma, ‘Keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut’ in order to broaden his knowledge.
Following this, Ryan returned to Australia to set up Stonehouse Thoroughbreds. Ryan has brought back to Australia elements that he liked from his various experiences and to this day is putting them to practise at Stonehouse Thoroughbreds.
During Ryan’s time overseas, he had the opportunity to meet and work with many profound figures in the industry. Richard Kent was one of these, the manager of Mickley Stud.
“He is an Irishman originally and is responsible for much of my breeding experience. His knowledge of pedigrees is unbelievable, he is a bit of a nutter but I learnt a huge amount from him.”
In Australia, Peter Moody is more of a renowned racing figure who made an impact on Ryan ‘he wouldn’t realise how much I look to him for advice.’
David Redvers still has a very good relationship with Ryan, “We still speak regularly, if he as anything to offer me he does and vice versa.” Qatar Bloodstock is going from strength to strength and much of their operations are now in New South Wales and New Zealand. However, when Zoustar was in Victoria, Stonehouse Thoroughbreds was used as a base for the mares.
Due to the agricultural experience that Ryan gained early on in his career, it was important to find a location for the farm that could provide the best land environment for his horses.
“I cemented myself in an area where I knew the land and knew how it will work each season. Victoria has some really good land and it is very accessible. We are centrally located in Victoria and a stones throw away from every single stallion in the region.”
Stonehouse Thoroughbreds prides itself with the attention to detail to the land environment as well as every aspect with the horses. This is unique to the breeding industry and Ryan works hard to ensures the soil structure is ideal for thoroughbreds. If the Thoroughbred Industry had not taken Ryan’s passion, he would definitely have been found working on a farm!
“No matter what I would have always had a property or a farm one way or another. Or a dolphin trainer at Seaworld, that would be the ultimate job.”
The advice that Ryan would offer to someone looking at starting their own farm is ‘It is definitely not an easy trip, just don’t take no for an answer.’ Ryan took his own advice on board when initially rejected by two banks requesting a loan to buy the farm. With a $10,000 deposit he managed to buy a $1m farm which is quite incredible.
“You’ve got to do your research, you’ve got to be confident and back yourself. You can’t be afraid to fail, if you fall or stumble at a hurdle, fall forward not back and then you just keep going,”