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Family input key to Wentwood success

4 min read

Written by Paul Vettise

Wentwood Grange is a tightly-knit family operation and lively discussions are an annual event ahead of the breeding season.

On the stallion choices for their mares, patriarch Des Hawkins naturally has his say and sons Dean, the stud manager; Sean, who looks after the marketing side of the business, and financial manager Leigh also play major roles.

“We have an around the table talk, which is always interesting, and Des and I do the genetics and Sean does the walk-ins so he sees a lot more of the stallions so he chips in with the conformation side of things. Leigh is the accountant so he tells us how much money we can spend,” Dean Hawkins said.

Wentwood Grange

“We usually have two or three stallions in mind, but we like to finalise off the back of the foals.” – Dean Hawkins.

“We work very hard to get it right and we try not to book anything until the mares have had their foals. We usually have two or three stallions in mind, but we like to finalise off the back of the foals.”

Wentwood is spread over three farms and 410 acres of lush Waikato country with Redoubt Farm the home of their broodmare band. In 2012, they became the first New Zealanders to breed a Group 1 winner at Royal Ascot when Little Bridge (NZ) (Faltaat {USA}) claimed the King’s Stand S.

“We’ll be breeding about 50 mares this year and they include eight Group 1 winners and Group 1 producers,” Hawkins said. “We’re very fortunate and we’ve got a really nice mix.

Watch: Little Bridge win the G1 King's Stand S. at Royal Ascot

Mares to Australia

As part of their annual plan, they have sent six of the best across the Tasman. “We generally send our dry mares to Australia every year and they included Highland Lights, the dam of Our Abbadean, to Caravaggio,” Hawkins said. They race the dual Group 2 winner and Group 1 placegetter Our Abbadean (Lookin At Lucky {USA}).

“Her first-up third in the Tarzino was a slashing run and in the Windsor Park Plate she got too far off them and came home really well,” Hawkins said,

“We made the decision to keep her in training it’s looking like the right one. Mum and Dad love their racing and we haven’t got too many in the racing team at the moment.

“Jamie (Richards) is doing a terrific job with her and she looks like a really good chance in the Livamol Classic. Her form at 2000 metres is good.”

Beau the choice

Meanwhile, the Group performer Shenandoah (NZ) (Darci Brahma {NZ}) will be visiting Brazen Beau (I Am Invincible). “We’ve also retired a half to Xcellent, who’s not named yet, and she’s going to Astern and Beautiful Sister and Bonny Tyler will be going to Kermadec.” Hawkins said.

The dual Group 1 winner of the Doncaster Mile and the George Main S., Kermadec (Teofilo {IRE}) was bred by Wentwood and sold for NZ$260,000 at Karaka in 2013. “His dam Hy Fuji is in foal to Tavistock and will be going back to him,” Hawkins said.

Stallion Kermadec was bred by Wentwood Grange and is now standing at Darley

Stravinsky (USA) mare Pica Pica (NZ), dam of the G1 Telegraph H., winner Signify (NZ) (Perfectly Ready) and El Sicario (NZ) (Bullbars), is in foal to Tivaci (NZ) (High Chaparral {IRE}). “We’ll see what the foal is like and at the moment she’ll be going to Savabeel,” Hawkins said.

“She’s the dam of Keep Moving, who’s by Darci Brahma and he’s won five of his 10 starts in Hong Kong,” – Dean Hawkins.

Miss Raggedy Anne (NZ) (Faltaat {USA}), who won the G1 Railway S., for the family, is in foal to Darci Brahma (NZ) (Danehill {USA}) and is likely to return to The Oaks Stud resident. “She’s the dam of Keep Moving, who’s by Darci Brahma and he’s won five of his 10 starts in Hong Kong,” Hawkins said.

They also raced the G1 Herbie Dyke S., winner and G1 Vinery Stud S., runner-up Valley Girl (NZ) (Mastercraftsman {IRE}). “She’s in foal to Savabeel and will probably go back to him and Leigh Valley will likely go to Almanzor. We unfortunately lost her Darci Brahma filly, that was a massive shame,” Hawkins said.

Leigh Valley (NZ) (Bianconi {USA}) won five races, including the G3 Cuddle S., and Valley Girl is one of three winners she has so far produced.