Luck be a lady for WA trio

6 min read
The purchase of Marooned Lady for $14,000 at a dispersal sale over 20 years ago altered the lives of WA trio Peter Walsh, Brian Bradley and John Ciprian.

When a trio of old footy mates came together to buy a filly from Dallas Dempster's dispersal sale in Perth in the mid-1990s, they couldn't have dreamt of the adventure it would take them on.

Peter Walsh and Brian Bradley had played footy together in Albany in the late 1970's and together with John Ciprian had been friends for years. A mutual interest in horses saw them head to the sale to bid on an unraced 2-year-old filly by the imported stallion Marooned (GB)

"We liked the horse and its breeding. It came from a mare line that Robert Holmes A'Court had imported," Bradley told TDN AusNZ.

Peter Walsh

"That filly was Marooned Lady. She won the (G3) WA Sires' Produce and another race and was really talented and only had a few starts and went sore and we decided to send her to Coolmore. It all went from there."

Marooned Lady, a $14,000 purchase, would change the lives of all three men as she became one of the best broodmares in the country.

During a six-month period from October 2003 until April 2004, her progeny won three Group 1 races, six Group 2s, a Group 3 and Listed race.

When the awards for the best Australian breeders were being calculated at the end of the 2003/04 season, the WA trio of Walsh, Bradley and Ciprian, who had just one broodmare, finished only behind the nation's biggest breeding operation, Woodlands, in terms of stakes-winners.

The headline horse was the brilliant filly Special Harmony (Spinning World {USA}), who won the G1 Thousand Guineas, the G1 VRC Oaks and the G1 Storm Queen S. The trio had sold her for $95,000 at the Gold Coast Magic Millions two years earlier.

Special Harmony winning the G1 Thousand Guineas

They had kept her two half-brothers, King Canute (King of Kings {Ire}) and Redwoldt (King Of Kings {Ire}) to race in WA and in that same amazing period, the former won a G2 Perth Cup, while the latter won Perth's premier juvenile race the G2 Karakatta Plate.

Amelia Park born from success

For Walsh, a well-known WA businessman and entrepreneur, the success gave him the confidence to launch his own breeding operation, Amelia Park.

"That got us more and more keen, and that's when I bought the farm and started to develop it." - Peter Walsh

"That got us more and more keen, and that's when I bought the farm and started to develop it," Walsh said. "When we'd won that Perth Cup and the Karrakatta and seen the enormous success with Special Harmony, who we sold, that gave me the energy and enthusiasm to build my own farm."

While admitting that it took time to make Amelia Park a success, Walsh has seen the rewards in the past few years. This week, Amelia Park topped the vendor averages at the Perth Magic Millions Sale.

The Amelia Park team at the Perth Magic Millions Sale

Marooned legacy continues

But while Walsh has built his own breeding business, he still remains in a partnership with Bradley and Ciprian, breeding from Marooned Lady's family and racing horses together.

They had tremendous success selling Marooned Lady's progeny after that magical six-month period. In 2004, they sold her colt by Fasliyev (USA) for $475,000 then her colt by Rock of Gibraltar {Ire}) for $800,000 in 2006.

They retained four of the six fillies that Marooned Lady left to breed from and three of her descendants reside at Segenhoe Stud under their partnership.

"We get on well together and our strengths complement each other. We are able to make decisions without much debate." - Brian Bradley

Meanwhile, there are several of her family who the men race in partnership or with others.

"We get on well together and our strengths complement each other. We are able to make decisions without much debate, about if you sell or whether you try and keep shares. Stallions selection and mating, we manage to agree," Bradley said.

Bradley is the main breeding man, but also heavily relies on the advice of Segenhoe general manager Peter O'Brien.

Brian Bradley relies heavily on the advice of Segenhoe's general manager, Peter O'Brien

"I've always relied a lot on Peter O'Brien and Michael Kirwan at Coolmore before that," he said.

"I do the blood match and I get Peter for the type. Peter will come back and say, no you'll get a monster with that one or the stallion might a bit small or you need to get some strength in with that mare," he said.

Marooned Lady's two fillies New Light (Galileo {Ire}) and Harpoon (High Chaparral {Ire}) are both at Segenhoe as well as Europa Point (Rock of Gibraltar {Ire}), who is out of her second filly Gambei (Dehere {USA}).

Walsh goes international

Walsh also has half a dozen of his own mares at Segenhoe as part of his broader Amelia Park interests and recently added two overseas mares.

He purchased Bound Copy (USA) (Street Cry {Ire}), the daughter of Group 2 winner In A Bound (Ashkalani {Ire}) - herself a daughter of Bounding Away and sent her to Kingman (GB) on a southern hemisphere cover and also bought stakes-placed Bumbasina (Ire) (Canford Cliffs {Ire}), and sent her to Siyouni (Fr).

"We went over for the Ascot carnival and went up to Newmarket for a look and Louis (Le Metayer), who has bought a few horses for me, was there as well, and we went through France and I just loved Kingman when I saw him and I loved Siyouni as well," Walsh said.

The mares are currently in quarantine and arrive in Australia at the end of the month.

He and his old footy mate from Albany, Bradley, also shop at the yearling and weanling sales hoping to find that next Marooned Lady.

Working together

He says Bradley plays a significant role in Amelia Park's success, along with O'Brien and the two women who run the operation, farm manager Sarah Brown and racing manager Sharon King,

"With those four people, it has turned things around. I've got pretty excited and put a bit more money in it. I'll leave them to virtually run it. I do my other business and it’s working," he said.

Of all of Walsh's business interests, and there are many, it is Amelia Park and his other thoroughbred interests which he takes most pleasure in.

"There's nothing better than going out and having a wine and talking about horses." - Peter Walsh

"I just love it. I feel like it keeps me alive sometimes with the business pressures I've got. I just love being involved and the people involved. There's nothing better than going out and having a wine and talking about horses," he said.

"It is a passion, but at the same time I'm trying to make sure it's a business too."

Amelia Park

The importance of the connections made through racing is something that he and Bradley will always agree on.

"You get a lot of enjoyment out of it," Bradley said. "There's a lot of friendships and it’s good getting other people involved."

"It makes it fun to share it among the family and with friends."