A dream that grew from a Billboard in Paris for the renowned trotting race, the Prix d’Amerique became a reality for Pat Driscoll. “I saw what they can do in France and thought “I could have a couple of those.” Horses have never been far from Pat, growing up, his Dad had a few Thoroughbreds and during his early teenage years, Pat used to do some track work.
His involvement with the industry then reduced for a few years as he pursued a business in accountancy, however, he was still part of the industry as he remained in a few syndicates.
Pat decided it was the right time for him to buy a farm and create his dream. After much consideration and time to find the perfect land for the farm to be set up on, an opportunity arose in Ballarat. There was no doubt that Victoria was where he wanted to set the farm up.
As the initial purpose of the farm was for Trotting, Ballarat was well located for the tracks and Victoria is one of the best places for this equine field. The close location to the city was a big draw, allowing Pat to continue his work as and when required.
“When I set up the farm, one of the pieces of advice I was given, was to set it up so it could be transferable between Trotters, Thoroughbreds, Arabs and whatever is required. It is pretty well set up for most equine pursuits.”
Finding the right land from an agricultural perspective was very important for Pat. “I wanted to make investment in the land and not just a stud farm. I was looking for the right block of land that would tick all the boxes in relation to an investment but also be suitable for equine pursuits.”
Yabby Dam Racing have impressive, state of the art facilities on the farm and Pat explains the inspiration he got from his visits to France. “I have travelled to France alot and a lot of the set ups over there are fantastic. I thought wouldn’t it be good to do something really good, from not only the breeding but the pre-training, breaking in – the whole package.” So I modelled what I have on the farms with what I saw in France.’
Pat has now moved full circle, twelve months ago has returned to the Thoroughbreds. “I bought a couple of yearlings at the Great Southern Sale a couple of years ago, and some broodmares and weanlings so I can get the hang of it all. I am doing the homework slowly but what I would love to do is breed some nice horses over time.” When asked how many mares are on the farm, Pat laughed, “Too many! Way too many!”
Although Pat knew a vast amount of knowledge about the Thoroughbred Industry in his early years, it is taking some time, lots of homework to become re-acclimatised with the breeding pedigrees.
“It’s interesting going back at looking at the pedigrees. I go back to the third generation, and I know all the stallions and the dams. The industry has become so internationalised in the last twenty years, I’m back to learning all the pedigrees again.”
Pat feels very encouraged by the thoroughbred industry especially in Victoria and has found it is a very exciting industry to be part of. “If you bring in some nice mares and you stay in Victoria, you can belong to VOBIS and Super VOBIS for example. The Victorian Thoroughbred Industry encourages you to be the best as they want the best horses racing here.”
The Thoroughbred Industry has had a huge presence internationally and it is exciting to have the opportunities available to strive towards. However, the opportunities available within Victoria is endless.
“Having one good enough to win a race, then a metropolitan and then one day hopefully a Group or a Listed race and you can do them all in your own backyard. The industry caters for all levels of those wanting to invest in the industry whether it be a mid-week 2000m maiden race or a Saturday at Flemington there is opportunities for everyone.”
The farm seems to be suiting Pat as he is a strong interest in not only the equine side of it but also agriculture. “I like looking around, checking the pastures, check the new foals and doing a bit of physical work, it just relaxes you. Technology allows you to stay in touch send an email, take a phone call without needing to go into Melbourne or Sydney.” It was apparent when talking to Pat that creating a good and safe environment on the farm for the horses was paramount.
Yabby Dam Racing take on a holistic approach to running the farm and this starts from the environment for the horse. “Looking after the pastures and making the fencing as safe as possible is important to us. We have exceptionally good fencing and are fortunate enough to have a vet/surgeon Dr Sarah Gray who has set up on the farm.” Similarly, to the Trotteurs, Pat has a vision of having horses that can work through the whole cycle at Yabby Dam.
“I’d like to do it all the way through, from the broodmares, the foals, weanlings, yearlings, breaking in and pre-training. Our aim at the moment is once we get through the pre-training is to send them to local trainers in Ballarat. We are working toward seeing the product the whole way through and seeing what to do, how it influences the end result and giving the horses the best possibilities to succeed.”
When asked about the advice he would offer to someone that are doing what you want to do in the industry, Pat offered “Go and speak to as many people as possible and do as much homework as possible and hasten slowly.”