It Takes A Team

4 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 this week's edition we head over to the Widden Valley, where yearling preparations are well underway for the Magic Millions Sale. Zoe Baylis has prepared yearlings all over the world and has been the yearling manager at Widden Stud for almost two years.

Zoe Baylis - Yearling Manager

TDN: Can you tell us a bit about yourself, how did you get your start in the industry?

Zoe: My first job in the Thoroughbred industry was at Wellfield Lodge in Palmerston North, NZ. I did foal watch there while I was at university and did yearling preps during the Uni summer holidays. I also took a year out and worked full time at Wellfield doing all aspects of stud work including helping with breakers and pre trainers. Once I finished my degree I spent a couple of years doing the yearling sales circuit in Australia and also yearling preps in England and America.

Zoe Baylis (left)

TDN: How long have you been yearling manager at Widden?

Zoe: I've been here at Widden about a year and a half.

TDN: How many yearlings are you prepping for the sales this year?

Zoe: In total this year we will prep about 150 yearlings for sale. We have 42 yearlings heading up to the Magic Millions in January.

Widden Stud

TDN: What’s your favourite part of the role?

Zoe: Seeing the progression of a young horse coming in from the paddock and going through a sale prep always amazes me. They develop so much and it is always exciting to present the finished product at the sale.

TDN: Widden has quite the reputation of producing champions, does this add any more pressure to your job?

Zoe: Yeah for sure! The expectation that we will bring a top class draft to each sale can put a bit of pressure on us sometimes but I think it also ensures we strive to prepare each horse as best we can.

TDN: What does a typical day in the yearling barn look like?

Zoe: Each morning all the yearlings are turned out into small individual runs to stretch their legs and have a graze for a couple of hours. They also all get some form of exercise whether it is hand-walking, lunging or going on the walker. Afternoons are usually spent grooming and doing parade practice with the yearlings. In saying that, we don’t have many typical days! There’s always something on whether it is the farrier, chiropractor, dentist or vets.

TDN: Who would you say was your favourite horse you’ve ever prepped?

Zoe: I prepped a colt for the Easter sale earlier this year who was physically one of the nicest colts I’ve ever worked with. He was a Sebring colt out of Group 1 winning mare Bonaria. He thrived off the work during prep and I look forward to seeing what he can do on the track!

Gallery: Zoe with the Sebring x Bonaria colt

TDN: Which sale are you looking forward to the most?

Zoe: Definitely Magic Millions. It’s always so much fun up there being the first yearling sale of the season and of course being at the Gold Coast is always a great time! We are taking an outstanding draft of horses up to the Gold Coast this year and I’m really looking forward to seeing them sell.