Lunar Fox ridden by Michael Dee wins the Kennedy Australian Guineas at Flemington Racecourse on February 27, 2021 in Flemington, Australia. (Scott Barbour/Racing Photos)

Travis Kelly admits that when you’re based near Sale, transporting broodmares to the various studs around the state for a walk-on and walk-out stallion service can more than kill the best part of a day.

Kelly and his family, wife Bec and children Jackson and Brooke, are all part of Kelly Thoroughbreds which specialise in broodmares and prepping for sales.

With the breeding season in full swing, Travis admits he’s busier than ever.

“There’s been a lot of driving,” Kelly said

“Because we are down in Gippsland in Sale every time we go to stud, it’s a four-hour one-way trip or an eight-hour round trip at least.”

“We predominately take our own mares, but we also have a handful of clients’ mares from down this way. We have got about half a dozen of other people’s mares but trying to get in and out has been a bit of a mixed season for the mares.

“There are mares that have not been doing quite what they should be at the moment. We have been getting some good days, and then all of a sudden, it changes, and they sort of go backwards and are not finishing off and cycling properly.

“I think a lot of farmers are finding that at the moment.”

Kelly said once the mares are served, they are then taken home, hopefully in foal to avoid another day-long trip.

But he said with the way some of the mares had been cycling, and they just haven’t been finishing the job off properly.

Kelly said they have 12 of their own mares, and all the progeny are headed to the sales.

They have been using Victorian stallions exclusively.

“We have sent a couple to Blue Point (at Darley), we are very keen on him, we have used Yulong’s Lucky Vega and Tagaloa, and we have a couple booked in at Widden to old Bel Esprit and Doubtland, but those mares aren’t ready yet, and we are just waiting for them to foal down.

“We have got a share in Reward For Effort, so we have been sending a couple there.

“We have been supporting Kermadec (Darley) pretty heavily and Foxwedge (Woodside Park).”

Kelly said they already had foals on the ground this year to Magnus and a few by Foxwedge, which have been bred on the same lines as their Group 1 winner Lunar Fox which they sold as a yearling at the 2019 Melbourne Gold Sale.

He said the mares served by Foxwedge are by Malibu Moon (USA).

They also have a mare in foal by new sire and dual Group 1 winner Russian Revolution.

Kelly said their Group 1 winning mare Cinque Cento (Nothin’ Leica Dane x Laydown Misere) was in foal to Yulong’s Grunt.

“She is an older mare and bit tricky to get into foal, but we got there,” he said.

“We have a few stakes mares in foal to Foxwedge and have also spread them around to Kermadec and Blue Point, which is a stallion I really like. Darley have supported him pretty well, and his fertility is really good, and it’s really enticing with that side of it.”

At this stage, Kelly hopes to offer some of their own yearlings, plus those owned by clients, at next year’s Melbourne Premier.

“We will have six in total, and there is a Frosted, which is a full sister to Symon Wilde’s horse, Timson (Young Love) that goes all right,” Kelly said

“We have a Flying Artie out of Moon De French (Malibu Moon x French Silk). We have another Foxwedge colt out of Tie Me Up (Royal Academy x Convent Girl).”

Kelly said the yearlings owned by clients would arrive at the farm before Christmas to start their preparations for the sales.

He said he was reasonably pleased with the results they achieved at this year’s Melbourne Premier, where they offered three yearlings, where their best result was $80,000 for an Impending filly out of Young Love which was purchased by Moloney Racing at Caulfield.

“It’s always good to have your horses in Melbourne Premier, but if you are not in the top half, you start struggling a bit,” he said.

Kelly Thoroughbreds are proud to be Group 1 winning breeders after selling Lunar Fox (Foxwedge x Grant’s Moon), which won the Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington in February.

They sold him for $40,000 at the Melbourne Gold Yearling Sale after he was previously passed in as a weanling on a $55,000 reserve.

Also, with a Group 2 victory in the VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m), Lunar Fox has won more than $1 million in prizemoney.

Kelly paid $20,000 for Grant’s Moon (USA), a well-performed mare who won seven races in America, including at listed level. When offered for sale at the 2017 Inglis Great Southern Weanling and Bloodstock Sale by Burnewang North Pastoral, the mare was carrying a Foxwedge foal that would become Lunar Fox.

Grant’s Moon, by Malibu Moon (USA) and out of Grant A Wish (USA), had already had three foals, including the winner of a Wodonga 1400m maiden from eight starts, Dawn’s Fight (Domesday). The mare died last year, and a Frosted filly is the last of her progeny.

Kelly suspects that Australian breeders didn’t necessarily favour the Malibu Moon (A.P. Indy x Macoumba) bloodline.

Malibu Moon was the foundation stallion at Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky.

Unfortunately, the stallion, which was also bred and raced by Hughes, died in May from a reported heart attack.

Kelly’s wife Rebecca is also a Sale based trainer and has Lunar Fox’s unraced, three-year-old half-sister, Luna Effect (Holler), in work.

“We have got another half-sister to Lunar Fox, which is the one by Frosted, and we will also race her ourselves,” he said.

“We took the Frosted to the Gold Sale, and I bought her back. I think she made about 54 grand, but she was a foal share, and I decided at a certain price that we were buying her back anyway.

“She was a foal share with Darley, and if she got up to 80 odd grand, she was probably going, but with the money she was, we’ll just race her ourselves.

“We are comfortable doing that with anything that doesn’t sell. Everything is always put up for sale, and we don’t pick through them. They are all there available.”

Kelly said that it was good that with his wife being a trainer that she would take whatever didn’t sell.

Kelly said his wife has six to eight horses in work at any one time and also breaks them him.

“She does all the work herself,” he said. “she rides all of her own work and all the rest of it.”

Kelly said it was certainly a family affair. Their 14-year-old son Jackson is already helping out at the track, while their 12-year-old daughter Brooke is perhaps the most enthusiastic of them all.

“The pair of them have foaled down mares by themselves when we have been out and stuff like that. It’s not bad for a 14 and 12-year-old being able to foal down a mare.

“It’s a good experience, and they’ll be able to get a job anywhere later on if they need to.”

Kelly said he would continue with the Malibu Moon pedigree as he likes that cross, and he’ll see what it takes them.