After a two-year search, Sydney-based businessman Ricky Surace recently secured 160 acres of prized land in the Mittagong/Bowral area to launch his dream of breeding top-class horses for the major yearling sales market.
“It’s been a long time coming and was a matter of finding the right property,” Surace told TDN AusNZ.
“The dream was always to have a farm of my own and have my own brand. Commercially we will run it as a business but at the end of the day we just want to breed racehorses.”
A bit like the hunt for the right property, Surace took his time sourcing suitable personnel in the industry to drive B2B Thoroughbreds. An admirer of Kingston’s work with young horses for many years, he settled on the highly regarded horsewoman as his clear top pick to run the farm.
"Commercially we will run it as a business but at the end of the day we just want to breed racehorses.” - Ricky Surace
“I think the key was that I had to find the right person. I have looked at Alex’s yearlings and how she preps them, her sales results have been outstanding. So, I thought she was the right person for the job.”
“It’s hard to get the right combination for the business and it’s the vital ingredient. In my other business you have to get the right people and look after them," he said.
A new adventure
Kingston, 40, has managed Kia-Ora for the past nine years and her decision has been a surprise to some in the industry. But she felt it was the right time for change in her life and to face a new professional challenge. As a mother of young children, she also seized the opportunity to be closer to her family.
“I was feeling like I was in limbo as far as progressing any further at Kia-Ora. I was hoping to relocate, as with a young family, this is an opportunity to be closer to my mum who is in Cootamundra and my sister in Sydney.”
“It’s a massive challenge and exciting I have met someone that is as passionate about this as I am.” - Alex Kingston
Kingston is hugely appreciative of the experience working at Kia-Ora, one of the Hunter Valley’s most iconic Thoroughbred breeding farms.
“Mr Krishnan has been very good to me over the last nine years. He gave me a free rein to purchase horses, provide mating guidance, select yearlings and take on a lot of responsibility.
There’s no doubt that autonomy Kingston enjoyed in that role will equip her well for the next phase of her career with B2B.
“It’s a massive challenge and exciting I have met someone that is as passionate about this as I am.”
Prior to joining Kia-Ora, Kingston worked extensively in the USA. After graduating with a Bachelor of Business (Equine Management) from The University of Sydney she travelled to Lexington, Kentucky, in 2003 where she worked at Three Chimneys, Ashford (Coolmore) and KESMARC.
Kingston also worked with Bluewater Farm and Sales for Meg Levy whom she considers a great influence.
“I learnt how to prep horses from her and fine tune it to the Australian way. She is a massive mentor of mine and we stay in contact a lot still. It’s been one of the main keys to my success back in Australia.”
At B2B Thoroughbreds Kingston will work alongside her husband Jose Ramos.
Ramos was an Assistant Broodmare Manager at Three Chimneys for two years. In 2010 he joined Vinery Australia where he became Stallion Manager in 2011. He remained in that position until 2017, and in more recent years has been a stay at home Dad.
Quality broodmare band
Now that he has key people in place, Surace said the plan is for B2B Thoroughbreds to be fully operational by April 2020.
During the past seven years Surace has been carefully building his broodmare band that were previously in the care of Newhaven Park. He’s also secured numerous shares in stallions including Star Witness, Cable Bay (Ire), Xtravagant (NZ) and Merchant Navy.
This season Surace has enjoyed his fair share of racetrack success with G2 Sandown Guineas (1600m) winner colt Ringerdingding (Sebring), a flag bearer for B2B, racing in the familiar black and blue silks.
Ringerdingding’s dam, Maybe I, will be one of the key mares in the B2B broodmare band. She has a full-brother to him on the ground and is in foal again to Sebring (More than Ready).
Mentored by renowned breeder Rick Jamieson, Surace is currently breeding 33 mares and plans to expand that number to 50.
“He (Rick) has taught me a lot. He turned me around and educated me and taught me things in breeding that I would never have imagined. He’s been very good.”
“We have some beautiful mares and I’m excited to see what their progeny will be,” he said.
Kingston is currently enjoying a well-earned month’s break with family and is looking forward to helping bring the B2B Thoroughbreds dream to life at the former dairy farm, where construction has already begun.
“It’s basically a blank canvas and the biggest challenge I have ever been given. I can’t wait.” said Kingston.