TBV Grassroots: Supreme Thoroughbreds Ben Tyrrell
Growing up in Victoria’s Gippsland and studying electrical engineering at RMIT University, a career with horses was never originally on the radar for Supreme Thoroughbreds’ Farm Manager Ben Tyrrell. But after accepting a part time role at a stud, the bug bit, the role quickly turned full time and Ben has not looked back.
Owned in partnership with Brent and Adrienne Grayling and Sue and Neil Shaw, Supreme Thoroughbreds has grown to three properties across the Macedon Ranges area of Victoria. After working with the Graylings at Eliza Park Stud for 5 years, Ben joined them at Supreme in 2009 and in a few weeks will be celebrating his 10 year anniversary with the team.
Overseeing Supreme’s seasonal breeding program, the foaling unit and foal development, Ben has extensive experience in all aspects of thoroughbred breeding. He is also responsible for pasture maintenance and land management, as well as assisting other team members across the farms and during Sales season.
Living onsite at Supreme’s flagship Portingales Lane property with his wife Rebecca and their three boys, Jack, Harvey and Elliot, finding that work/life balance can be challenging.
“How do I balance it? With great difficulty,” laughs Ben.
“It’s the nature of the job. You don’t build a career in this industry without loving what you do. It becomes a lifestyle. Bec also works on the farm part-time, working it around the kids.”
Ben still makes sure he finds time to relax, even if it’s just simply sitting on his patio of a late afternoon, overlooking the paddocks.
“Bec and I love to disappear abroad to escape,” said Ben. “But we always come back! Supreme is a very family orientated farm and we slot into it well.”
Having already been working with horses and foals herself, it was Rebecca who first introduced Ben into the breeding industry. They have both also enjoyed a stint working in the United States of America.
“While in the US, I got to work with Scat Daddy at Coolmore in his maiden stallion year,” said Ben.
“I’ve worked with a number of horses over the years that whilst haven’t become great racehorses, they’ve meant a lot to me. But that experience with Scat Daddy was pretty special,” said Ben.
Supreme Thoroughbreds have had a successful breeding season this year, foaling down 191 mares with just two left to foal (at the time of print). The team are aiming to specialise in foaling. It’s expensive and difficult to set up but partnering with a few local farms is proving worthy of the efforts.
With the breeding season coming to a close, the attention now turns to yearling preparations. Supreme’s Yearling Manager Chris Grayling has begun working with their yearlings ahead of the upcoming sale season, with Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale as the main target.
“We take all our best stock there, which suits us and helps with cementing our reputation with buyers,” said Ben.
When asked what changes or initiatives he’d like to see implemented in the breeding industry, Ben is quick to respond.
“Industry education is really important,” said Ben.
“The next generation is not coming through. We need to understand why, what is lacking. There’s been so much focus put on working in trades, mining industries. There’s not enough direction to work in our industry and there are smaller numbers coming out of TAFEs.”
“Ours is a taxing industry. It’s not always glamourous but it’s very rewarding. It’s hard for people to see that when they’re not involved. We are such a fad-driven society and get easily waylaid. We need to battle the perceptions in the tabloids.”
With three young children at home, some of this education has no doubt already begun in the Tyrrell household.
“I’d like to think at least one (of my children) will get into the industry,” said Ben. “But we’ll support them no matter what.”