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Baystone Farm building into breeze-up business

8 min read

Cover image courtesy of Inglis

Written by Georgie Dennis

Dean Harvey and his Baystone Farm operation predominantly make their trade by buying and selling mares. However, in a normal year, the broodmare sales are finished by the end of May, leaving Harvey with some time to fill.

That’s where his progression into selling ready to race 2-year-olds began.

“I trade a lot of mares so it ties in nicely with that,” Harvey told TDN AusNZ. “I’ve always traded most things really, weanlings and yearlings I do as well. Fillies off the track, I’ll get them in foal and sell them. It was just a natural progression really.

“Wherever there is a market that I can find a percentage, I’ll do it.

“Wherever there is a market that I can find a percentage, I’ll do it." - Dean Harvey

“It just fitted in as well - the mares are mostly gone by May so it frees up the farm a bit to have the colts in by the second half of the year.

“I started off with one or two and it just grew and grew and it’s been good for us so we’ve continued to do it.”

Harvey has built a formidable relationship with Troy Corstens and the yearlings are prepared at the trainer’s country property before heading to his Flemington stable.

Dean Harvey (stripe shirt) and Troy Corstens (right) looking at yearlings on the Gold Coast

“Troy trains them out of Flemington and they do their initial early work at his farm near Benalla with a lot of hills, so we do a lot of hill work early on,” Harvey said.

“Then they come down in the early stages of their prep and they go to Flemington and get used to the hustle and bustle there before they do their breeze-ups.

“We’ve been going for about four years with the breeze-ups and are going quite well. Just from last year’s results we’ve had some good trial winners and a couple exported to Hong Kong already.”

With the Australian breeze-up market being so heavily reliant on international buyers, this year, without them being able to physically attend the sale, Harvey is working on his own platform to help negate that.

He has begun developing a website, similar to that of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, where potential buyers can gain all the information they need on the Baystone draft to give them as much confidence as possible when bidding remotely.

Dean Harvey (second from right) has begun creating an online platform for his ready to race 2-year-olds

“I’m setting it up so everyone can look at all the work the horses have done and all the treatments they’ve had,” he said.

“Basically just to be very transparent, pretty much like the Hong Kong Jockey Club website. You can see all the track work they’ve done and all of that sort of stuff.

“I’m currently setting that up at the moment but it’s just something different this year. The Asian clients won’t be able to get here so we’re just trying to give them every piece of information we possibly can to give them confidence when bidding.”

"We’re just trying to give them every piece of information we possibly can to give them confidence when bidding.” - Dean Harvey

Harvey also said his 2-year-olds will be aimed at having a jump-out in the lead up to the sale to further add to the collection of information on his draft.

“That’s the advantage of having them at Flemington. If they’re ready and we can get them to the jump-outs, we will,” he said.

“They’re 800 metre jump-outs so if they’re ready and fit and healthy, we’ll continue them on before the breeze-up sales. Then the buyers can see them over 200 metres and they can see them over 800 metres as well.”

Boxes to tick

When it comes to buying yearlings with the breeze-up sales in mind, Harvey said there are a couple of boxes to tick, but he and Corstens mostly target stock that they would be happy to retain and race themselves.

“They’ve generally got to be early type horses you would think, but we just buy yearlings that we think are really nice horses that we would be happy to race ourselves,” Harvey said.

“Troy and I got through all the sales together, we’ve got quite similar taste in what we like so we work really well together.

“If they don’t make what they need to make or something happens, we’d be happy to race them, so that’s all we target.

“As long as they fit into our price and x-ray profile as well. You’ve got be quite harsh on x-rays because ultimately Hong Kong is our biggest market and they’re quite stringent on x-rays, so you’ve got to be very careful with getting x-rays and scopes right before you buy.

“Obviously as well, commercial stallions and a bit of pedigree is important because they’ve got to appeal to the market as well.”

Baystone Farm will offer nine 2-year-olds at the Inglis Ready2Race Sale in October and Harvey said two colts in particular are the standouts so far, with the first being by Arrowfield’s Dundeel (NZ) out of Redoute’s Choice mare Tang, whose brother was an impressive debut winner at Ballarat recently.

“His full brother is called Hit The Shot who won his first start really impressively for Matt Cumani two weeks ago at Ballarat,” he said. “I would say they’re heading towards a Derby with him.

“This colt has really impressed us early in his first few gallops. He’s a really well balanced horse with a good action and we think he’s quite a nice horse.”

Harvey’s second standout of the Baystone draft is a colt by Darley first-season sire Astern, who they purchased for $10,000 at the Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale.

“The Astern colt is showing really good ability as well,” he said. “We bought him quite cheap but he’s a big strong strong colt and he’s doing everything right at the moment.”

Harvey hasn’t had much to do with the stock of this year’s crop of first-season sires, but he said he has been taken by Astern.

“In terms of first-season sires, we’ve only really got the Astern but we’ve been really impressed by him so if he’s anything to go by, we’ll be getting some more by Astern.”

Astern | Standing at Darley

Bid with confidence

Harvey remains confident that the ready to race market will hold up and is doing as much work as he possibly can to give buyers the information they need to bid with confidence.

A large chunk of the bench will be missing with Hong Kong buyers unable to attend but with the success of the digital platforms so far in 2020, Harvey believes that will only roll on into the breeze-up sales.

“It’s going to be very different,” he said. “I think everyone is going to readjust with this market obviously because none of those guys are going to be here.

"But in saying that the positive is that we’ve been exposed to fair few digital marketplaces now where I think people are becoming a lot more confident in buying from those digital platforms.

“And there’s plenty of people here that can look at them physically, but I think with videos, photos any form that you can show, obviously in the breeze-ups we’ve got them galloping as well so you can see that, vet reports, all of that sort of stuff I think gives people confidence.

“The more information you give them, the more confident they’ll be in buying.

“The more information you give them, the more confident they’ll be in buying." - Dean Harvey

“I’m not saying it’s going to be an absolute boomer, because it’s so uncertain with those guys not here, but the Easter clearance rate was really good and we do see a lot of guys from over there still buying.

“They still need horses so they’re going to have to buy, it’s just a matter of how strong they’re going to be.”

As for the mares side of things, Harvey said it’s been a tough year. He was unable to attend the Magic Millions Gold Coast National Broodmare Sale himself, but is working hard at getting his mares in foal and keeping the business running smoothly.

“We had a pretty tough sale at the one just gone,” Harvey said of the Gold Coast sale. “With all the restrictions, you could only really have buyers from NSW and Queensland at the Sale.

“But I think it held up quite well considering the circumstances but we’ve had better years.

“It’s a pretty resilient industry but I’d be a little bit weary next year.

“With our coverings this year, we’ve been using Written Tycoon and Dundeel a lot as well as Brazen Beau. Those sort of horses in that midrange market just to cover our bases a little bit.”