At 27 years old, Harry King has seen a bit and done a bit in bloodstock. His family owns Brighthill Farm in Waikato, and he has worked in Ireland, Hong Kong, the Hunter Valley and at home in New Zealand. King has covered yearling sales, stallion barns, auction rings and the hospitality department at New Zealand Bloodstock, and his latest gig has brought him to Victoria.
Last week, Yulong Investments revealed that King had joined its team in the role of nominations and sales, working alongside Manager Troy Stephens.
“Harry comes to Yulong with fantastic credentials,” Stephens said. “His enthusiasm and drive match the ethos we strive for here at Yulong, and we’re looking forward to generating more success with Harry as part of the team.”
King arrived at Yulong eight weeks ago, and he joined a formidable number of new additions to the farm, including Champion Sire Written Tycoon and a flotilla of new broodmares plucked from the sales circuit to support him, plus international star Lucky Vega (Ire).
“The reason I came to Yulong was because of the long-term investment here and the big-time player that this farm will be in years to come,” King said. “There is massive interest here, and the investment in stallion rosters, management and broodmares is something that backs that up.”
All eyes on Victoria
King is the second-oldest son of Nick and Anne-Marie King, who established Brighthill Farm in 1996.
Growing up, stallions, mares and offspring were an everyday thing for King, and at 17 years old he was packed off to see the world. His Irish father and English mother had plenty of contacts in Europe, and there began the nomadic student of bloodstock that King became.
“At about 18, we were all sent up to Australia, England and Ireland to see the world,” he said. “I hadn’t applied for an Irish National Stud course or a Sunline Scholarship, or even a place in Flying Start, so a lot of my study was off my own back, going to different operations and learning all that I could.”
Among his tenures around the world, King spent time at Ascot Farm in Cambridge, Yarraman Park and Vinery Stud. He worked at Roundhill Stud in County Limerick, run by Bobby and Honora Donworth, as well as Baroda and Colbinstown Studs in County Kildare.
For the last three years, King was the hospitality manager at New Zealand Bloodstock and he was additionally involved in the day-to-day running of Gavelhouse.com.
“Australia is particularly a place of excitement at the moment for a young person in this industry,” King said. “New Zealand gave us a great grounding in the types of horses that Victoria buys in particular, so just to come back to Australia and do my best for Yulong is something that means a lot to me.”
"Australia is particularly a place of excitement at the moment for a young person in this industry." - Harry King
King said the buzz about Victoria’s breeding industry was a great incentive to locate to the southern state.
“Looking from across the ditch, Victoria is a very lucrative place to be breeding mares,” he said. “The investment in stud farms here, not just with Yulong but also with Widden setting up here and Swettenham is flying with Toronado, Rosemont too with Shamus Award, it will make for a very exciting five or so years coming up.”
The opportunity to work for Yulong came about in June through Benji, King’s older brother.
“I’d been looking for employment in Australia for about a year or so, and then COVID happened so that dimmed a few things,” King said. “Benji then bumped into Troy (Stephens) at the sales, as all these great stories go, and Troy was looking for someone to join him in the nominations and sales team.
"It was something that I’d had my eyes on for many years, to get back onto a stud farm and do what I know best, which is stallions and pedigrees.”
King’s timing has been very good.
This spring, Yulong has welcomed Written Tycoon to the farm, while Irish import Lucky Vega, a son of Lope De Vega (Ire), has brought a new flavour to affairs. Lucky Vega won the G1 Phoenix S. at The Curragh as a 2-year-old and was Group-placed on four other occasions, and he stands his first book at $22,000 (inc GST).
Additionally, Yulong has this season launched the stallion career of Yulong Prince.
The talented South African import was a winner of six of 11 races in his homeland, including the G1 Daily News 2000, before his relocation to Australia, after which he won the G1 VRC Cantala S. He is standing his debut season at $9900 (inc GST).
Gallery of some of Yulong Stud's stallions in 2021
The arrival of these three prolific horses to Yulong has been in-hand with lofty renovations around the property, but King said it still feels like a family business to him, and he would know.
“For me coming over, Yulong really is a family-run farm,” he said. “And that’s coming from a lot of family operations behind me such as Brighthill, but also New Zealand Bloodstock with the Velas being heavily involved. Yulong is very similar. Mr Zhang’s daughter, Rachel, lives on the farm, and his son-in-law Harris helps to run the day-to-day operations of everything.”
"For me coming over, Yulong really is a family-run farm, and that's coming from a lot of family operations behind me." - Harry King
King has been familiar with Yulong’s Chairman, Mr Yuesheng Zhang, for a number of years. Zhang was an investor in one of Brighthill’s resident stallions, Preferment (NZ).
“I was very fortunate to meet Mr Zhang in person multiple times,” King said. “What took me was his extensive knowledge of pedigrees and broodmares, and his high interest in the bloodlines that he sent to New Zealand. He’s got an absolute love for animals, and for the thoroughbred in particular.”
Harry King’s everyday role at Yulong is back where he’s most comfortable. Admittedly, he is a pedigree tragic, something fostered and nurtured by his father growing up, and by King’s rich spread of experience through the last decade.
“Coming from a breeding background, I’ve grown up with some tremendous stallions around the farm from some fantastic bloodlines,” King said. “I remember our first stallion, Beau Zam. He was a Champion racehorse for Bart Cummings, and it was a good coup for my parents to get him to Brighthill.”
From these roots, King watered his passion for bloodlines. He became interested in nicks and crosses, and does all his homework to this day.
“I don’t think enough people look at the fourth and fifth generations of what’s happening in a bloodline,” he said. “Everyone is quick to look at the first and second generation, but I really think the good stuff happens back on the fourth, fifth and possibly sixth generations.”
“I don’t think enough people look at the fourth and fifth generations of what’s happening in a bloodline." - Harry King
King credits much of his thinking to the brilliance of breeders he has worked with.
In particular he mentions Henrietta Russell, Dowager Duchess of Bedford, who bred Tavistock (NZ), as well as a number of breeders in New Zealand and Ireland. King said he has learned about picking the best bits of bloodlines that are working around the world, and he is looking forward to imparting his wisdom at Yulong.