It Takes A Team

7 min read

Welcome to TDNAusNZ’s ‘It Takes a Team’, brought to you in conjunction with Thoroughbred Industry Careers. Here we highlight and celebrate some of the heroes of our industry. The strappers, riders, studworkers and people behind the scenes of our champions. The people who are up late into the night foaling or up at the crack of dawn to trackwork, working tirelessly to keep the industry running.

In today's edition we speak to a familiar figure from around the sales scene. Paige Belsham began her career as a stud hand and worked her way up Manager of Attunga Stud, and is currently enjoying her new role at Aquis Farm in Communication and Client relations.

Paige Belsham - Communications/ Client Relations

TDN: Can you tell us a bit about your career in the Thoroughbred industry so far, how did you get to where you are today?

Paige: I first started out at Glenlogan Park QLD as a very green 19yo whose horse background was mainly Equestrian, however my parents always owned racehorses while I was growing up. My uncle was a jockey in New Zealand and my Grandfather grew up in the racing industry, so safe to say it was inevitable that I would catch the bug! I was lucky enough to learn a lot about the breeding Industry in my time at Glenlogan. I had a small break after my year and a half there, where I decided to get a “real job” in accounting.

Paige Belsham

I soon realised having an accounting/city job wasn’t for me and that I wanted to make a real go of it within the Thoroughbred Industry. In 2013 I made the move to the Hunter Valley and started working for Attunga Stud, Brian Nutt has been very instrumental in where I am today, as he gave me many opportunities to grow my skills and knowledge within the industry. Over the five years I worked for him I was exposed to all aspects of the industry from breeding, conformation assessment, client liaison, matings and general horse husbandry. I managed the yearlings for four years where we had many great successes.

In 2015, I thought it would be a good idea to do the European Sales to gain more international knowledge of the industry, I was lucky enough to work for some of the top consigners in France, Ireland, Germany and England. In the final year at Attunga I stepped up again to manage the farm alongside Brian, where I was able to develop a more in-depth knowledge which I will always be grateful for. As Attunga was closing in June 2018, I was planning my next move, being more involved in bloodstock was always a high priority for me. I was in contact with Aquis Farm as they are a young and exciting company that had been on my radar for a while. I was lucky enough to be able to come on board in a Communications/ Client Relations role. In the 6 months I have been with Aquis Farm, I have been lucky enough to work alongside many of the most knowledgeable and experienced industry professionals. Safe to say I’m loving my new role.

Paige is loving her new role at Aquis

TDN: What do you miss the most about stud work?

Paige: I’d have to say I miss the preparing the yearlings the most. Seeing them develop over the course of a preparation and producing a final product of the highest standard will never get old to me.

TDN: Do you think the skills you gained and contacts you made through working on farms helped you to get where you are now?

Paige: Definitely! I would say the biggest asset to getting where I am today is all the people that I was able to meet through clients at the farm or at the sales. When you are on the farm working with the horses it’s the best time to learn! Watching and observing whether it be conformation or mild changes that need to be monitored, what I liked or didn’t like in different types of horses and even being able to see what attributes certain stallions throw into their stock. If I didn’t work on the farm, I would never be able to get that insight.

TDN: What’s the best part of your new role?

Paige: The best part of my new role is that it is so varied, no one day is ever the same. I’m lucky to be working alongside some of the best in the industry and it’s a great feeling to be growing with a young company like Aquis Farm.

TDN: What’s the most challenging part of your new role?

Paige: The most challenging part of my role is actually probably not being so hands on, I often find myself going for a walk and having a look at a few foals or yearlings.

Paige often finds herself out of the office checking on the foals

TDN: You’ve been lucky enough to prepare a lot of good horses over the years, who would you say was the best?

Paige: Son of Maher was a yearling that flew under my radar and was one that taught me a valuable lesson on how I judged yearlings. He was a lovely colt with plenty of scope but he just didn’t stand out as the must have horse for that particular sale to me, as we had the likes of Zoustar’s full sister and few other high profiled horses in that draft. He ended up winning the Group 2 Coupland's Mile in New Zealand. I also have a soft spot for him, as I was lucky enough to acquire his dam Dance Hit last year and currently have his full brother on the ground. But I would have to say Ellicazoom would be my all-time favourite, she is a tough mare that has mixed with some of the best Fillies/Mares around.

Ellicazoom winning the Ladbrokes Cockram S.

TDN: You were involved in raising recent 2YO stakeswinner Vinicunca, can you tell us what she was like as a foal?

Paige: She was a filly that was all quality from the moment she was born. I have to say Xandretta, her Dam was one of my favourites and has consistently produced type after type. But the I Am Invincible filly Vinicunca, was exceptional from foal to yearling. She was hard to fault both physically and mentally. Vinicunca was up against Chicago Bull, an Aquis Farm colt that by all reports was going to be a tough colt to beat on the day so I was a little torn as to who I should be barracking for! She showed a lot of tenacity to win that day and is going to be a filly to watch.

Paige with Vinicunca at the 2018 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale

TDN: Is there any advice you would give to anyone looking to get involved as a stud hand?

The best advice I have been given is if you don’t ask, you don’t get. I was/still am a shy person but what I have learnt is that so many people in the industry are willing to pass their knowledge down to the younger generation. Talk to as many people as possible about the ins and outs of the industry whether it be breeding, stallions or what attributes they look for in their yearling selection process. Ask the questions and pick the brains of people you look up to.