Eddie Hirsch’s takeover of Woodside Park Stud and the Rowsthorn family move to their 1100-acre farm Morningside at Nagambie has provided the Victorian breeding industry with some significant changes in recent weeks.
Australian rich-lister Hirsch, who co-founded United Petroleum, sees the acquisition of Woodside Park has as a long term proposition.
Already the owner of Foxwedge, Hirsch looks forward to also standing stallions Rich Enuff (Written Tycoon x Hotnuff) and Tosen Stardom (Deep Impact x Admire Kirameki) at Woodside Park.
Hirsch purchased Woodside Park’s nearby training property at Tylden in 2019 and spent significant money to upgrade the property – since named Hirsch Park – and more significantly a 1700-metre training track where his trainer John Salanitri is now based.
Former Inglis employee Mark Dodemaide is Woodside Park’s stallion’s nominations manager and acts as a trusted adviser to Hirsch, who he helped buy Foxwedge.
He believes Hirsch’s long term vision for the stud includes the possible purchase of another stallion, if the right one is available, to complement Rich Enuff, Foxwedge and Tosen Stardom.
“We are not going to jump into any new stallion, but if the right one comes along, we are definitely interested,” Dodemaide said.
“I think the three stallions that we have now are a nice mix in that Foxwedge is proven with his 22 stakes winners and five Group 1 winners. He is a very proven product.
“Rich Enuff is up and coming. His oldest are three-year-olds, and already he has two stakes winners. Grahame Begg has got Dosh which is unbeaten and will be running this spring.
“And there is Orbiysn in Queensland, which is unbeaten in four starts.
“Tosen Stardom to me is underrated. He was a $3 million yearling and was an unbeaten two-year-old stakes winner in Japan and won the Toorak and Emirates like Phar Lap.”
Dodemaide said he believes the three stallions are a good mix and are all at slightly different stages of their careers
And Hirsch couldn’t be happier with his increased involvement in the industry which has guaranteed the continuation of the Woodside Park business and its three stallions.
“I’m thrilled to have both my racing and breeding businesses now based in Tylden. All the current Woodside Park Stud staff will remain part of our team and we are excited for a prosperous future in the stud business,” Hirsch said in a statement.
The deal for Hirsch to acquire the Woodside Park business was several months in the making but only finalised last week.
Will and Tom Rowsthorn will head the new Morningside business, which will see the family diversify into cattle as well as breeding from their band of broodmares and continuing to offer yearling preparations and other associated services.
Tom Rowsthorn said the family would continue to support Woodside Park’s three stallions. Super stallion Written Tycoon previously stood at Woodside Park before moving to the Hunter Valley for one season last year, but has since returned to Victoria after being acquired by Yulong at Nagambie.
Rowsthorn said the changes and the Morningside move had been discussed for months when they talked about the future of their stallions and where their business was heading.
“With Written (Tycoon) getting on and the others boys with a bit of a job to do, we sort of looked at where we heading,” he said.
“When we purchased this Morningside property, there was infrastructure for pre-training, breaking in and that sort of stuff, but there was nothing you could facilitate a stallion operation with.
“It was that sort of decision that we put all the chips in and move the stallion operation here or just focus on the other side of the business, which is obviously prepping and selling yearlings and having a broodmare band.
“We just decided to go down that path and just sort of, I guess, streamline the whole business and cut down everywhere else.”
Rowsthorn said that the previous owner of the property, which has 6km of Goulburn River frontage, was veterinarian and horseman Dr Bill Burns who turned to farming Wagyu beef.
He said they now had about 100 head of cattle on the farm, which when being sold was marketed that the property bred, trained or educated more than 35 Group 1 winners, including Melbourne Cup victors Efficient and Shocking.
“The cattle are all due to calf in the next little bit, and then we’ll focus on our broodmare band, which we have 30 at the minute, and we’ll probably got up to around 40,” Rowsthorn said.
“There are some down the bottom end that we will continuously try to upgrade. Between 30 to 40 would be the number that we’d like to sit with.”
Rowsthorn said that before Burns turned to cattle, he educated a lot of horses and many went onto Hong Kong after quarantining at the property.
Morningside was purchased by the Rowsthorn family about two years ago.
Rowsthorn said the stallion business was a tough capper and they were honoured to stand Written Tycoon before he moved to the Hunter Valley last year.
“Obviously we loved doing the stallions, and it wasn’t a decision we took lightly,” he said.
Rowsthorn said he would assist older brother Will, who is the general manager of Morningside, and they had only one other employee, Karen Vaughan.
“We have gone from a team of probably 40 employees to just the three of us who work with the horses, plus a couple of maintenance people and some gardeners, so it’s a bit of a different vibe around the farm,” he said.
“It’s something we had in motion for about a year now.”
And Rowsthorn said it was exciting to see Written Tycoon’s progeny coming through from when he stood at Woodside Park, and it would be great to look back in another decade and reflect on the impact the stallion has had on the Australian breeding industry.