Marketing master Sir Patrick was always steps ahead

6 min read
Sir Patrick Hogan always liked to keep ahead of the opposition at Karaka and nobody played the selling game as well as the undisputed king of the ring. For a remarkable 31 consecutive years, Cambridge Stud was the leading vendor at New Zealand’s premier sale and none of those titles were won by chance, it was always the results borne from meticulous planning and a great degree of innovation.

Racing Hall of Famer Sir Patrick Hogan thought outside of the square when it came to thoroughbred marketing by combining business with pleasure, which led to outstanding results for him and Lady Justine Hogan when it came to sale aggregates.

“In the mid-1980s I did a huge amount of marketing and the opportunity was there to push the Cambridge Stud brand through the progeny I had because of the success of Sir Tristram,” Sir Patrick said.

“At that time, the big stallions were Sir Tristram here and Bletchingly in Australia and everyone wanted their progeny.” – Sir Patrick Hogan.

“At that time, the big stallions were Sir Tristram here and Bletchingly in Australia and everyone wanted their progeny.

“I worked hard on promotion to give me the edge over the competition and I had the product to do it with.”

Sir Patrick had a natural affinity with the role and he continually reaped the rewards.

“I like marketing and promotion and moreover I like to be a winner.” – Sir Patrick Hogan.

“I like marketing and promotion and moreover I like to be a winner,” he said. “I treated it very seriously, although it was a bit of a game at the same time and I wanted to beat the competition any way I could.”

With the free-spenders across the Tasman at the top of his wish list, Sir Patrick hit on a brilliant ploy.

Sir Patrick Hogan

“I came up with the idea in the early days. Trainers in Australia then weren’t mixing with one another and didn’t mix socially with each other,” he said.

“It wasn’t because they didn’t get on or anything like that, they were just getting on with their training and their businesses.”

Sir Patrick decided to change all that and spent heavily to achieve his goals.

“I included all their airfares and got them on a plane from Sydney and another one from Melbourne via Adelaide and Perth.” – Sir Patrick Hogan.

“I invited them to come to Cambridge Stud to view the yearlings. I included all their airfares and got them on a plane from Sydney and another one from Melbourne via Adelaide and Perth,” he said.

“There were the two locations, Sydney and Melbourne and all costs were paid. They flew business class and that meant they had to mix and chat.

“When they arrived they all got on a bus and it was a great social opportunity. We put them in a hotel and the next morning bussed them all to Cambridge Stud and they saw the 60 or 70 yearlings we had to sell.”

Sir Patrick then took the coach tour a step further in his desire to win over all the visitors.

“We headed off to Taupo and put them up and the next day we were out fishing on Lake Taupo and had lunch on the shore.” – Sir Patrick Hogan.

“We headed off to Taupo and put them up and the next day we were out fishing on Lake Taupo and had lunch on the shore,” he said.

“We went back out and fished and had dinner on the lake, all done by private caterers and the next day they all dispersed.”

Such was the hospitality on the venture that it wasn’t long before word spread.

Sir Patrick Hogan with the great Zabeel

“It created a great demand and the next year potential buyers were sent a Cambridge Stud invitation and we did that for a number of years,” Sir Patrick said. “As a rule, there were 15 to 20 trainers and a couple of other clients.”

But there was a friendly side-bar to the New Zealand jaunt.

“It was said in jest, but if they weren’t seen to bid on Cambridge Stud horses they wouldn’t get an invitation and it worked with groups all bidding.” – Sir Patrick Hogan.

“It was said in jest, but if they weren’t seen to bid on Cambridge Stud horses they wouldn’t get an invitation and it worked with groups all bidding. It got quite serious and successful.”

Biggest names in the game

The tangible rewards of Sir Patrick’s marketing methods were significant.

“In my opinion, it all added 30 to 40 per cent on the aggregate and I had the product the market wanted at the top end. It certainly paid off,” he said.

The biggest names in the Australian training game at that time were all booked on Sir Patrick’s tours.

“Tommy Smith came, Bart Cummings, Geoff Murphy, there were some good trainers from Perth and Colin Hayes of course.” – Sir Patrick Hogan.

“Tommy Smith came, Bart Cummings, Geoff Murphy, there were some good trainers from Perth and Colin Hayes of course,” he said.

Bart Cummings was counted among the names that were included on Sir Patrick's tours. Pictured with grandsons Edward (left) and James (right)

“They were great times and it was so successful it was amazing.”

Cambridge Stud was purchased last year by Brendan and Jo Lindsay, but Sir Patrick will still be selling a select few youngsters at Karaka this month.

“I’ve got five to offer. Cambridge Stud is doing a couple, Carlaw Park has two for me and Phoenix Park has one,” he said.

Overseas interest was intense when Sir Patrick decided the time was right to sell Cambridge Stud and his desire for the ownership to remain in New Zealand was fulfilled.

The new owners of Cambridge Stud, Jo and Brendan Lindsay

Retirement not an option

With the sale of his iconic farm, Sir Patrick scotched any suggestion of retirement, insisting he will be involved for as long as possible. He has retained Monarch Farm in Cambridge and has part or full interest in around 50 racehorses as well as his mares.

The industry just wouldn’t be the same without Sir Patrick - a broad and reasoned thinker and maker of champion stallions Sir Tristram (IRE) (Sir Ivor {USA}) and his son Zabeel (NZ).

His indelible mark on the New Zealand industry is further emphasised with the son of Zabeel (NZ) and Diamond Lover (Sticks And Stones) he sold to Gooree Stud in 2000 for NZ$3.6 million remaining a Karaka record. Named Don Eduardo (NZ), he went on to win the G1 Australian Derby and sired the dual Group 1 winner Booming (NZ).

Sir Patrick Hogan leading the last yearling by Zabeel through the ring at Karaka in 2015