• www.gavelhouse.com
  • Australia (HQ): +61 3 9499 2229
  • New Zealand: 0800 888 440
  • South Africa: 071 175 3600

Leading Breeders of the world with Dr Andreas Jacobs of International Stud Farms in Germany, UK & South Africa

By Lissa Oliver August 23 2012

The term Elite Breeder has seldom been more appropriate. Andreas Jacobs is not only the third generation of his family to be involved with one of Europe’s foremost studs, Gestüt Fährhof, in Germany, but he is also responsible for his family’s Newsells Park Stud in Britain and Maine Chance Farms in South Africa. While Gestüt Fährhof has for long been firmly established as a leading stud, having won the Leading Breeder award 18 times over the past 40 years, Newsells Park is a relative newcomer, but has already sent out Classic winner Masked Marvel in just ten years of Jacobs’ ownership. Purchased in 2002, Maine Chance Farms is also heading in the right direction, Princess Victoria currently flying the flag and recently adding the Group One Garden Province Stakes in Durban to her impressive CV, which saw her crowned Champion Two-Year-old last year and almost certain to be Champion Three-Year-Old.

Andreas’ grandfather, Walther J. Jacobs, founded the 250acre Gestüt Fährhof, near Bremen, in 1963 and developed it into an internationally recognised and respected stud farm, breeding to race. In 1965 Tristan’s first win in Fährhof’s black and yellow colours put the name onto the racing calendar and the family colours have dominated the international racing scene ever since. It would be difficult to find a German-bred champion that didn’t owe its pedigree to a Fährhof horse. Tristan, who suffered a tendon injury, later became the young Andreas’ first competition horse.

 

One of Walther’s foundation mares, Suncourt (GB), produced Surama in 1970. Mated to Literat, Surama produced the Champion racehorse Surumu, who became the world’s most influential stallion from the Dark Ronald male line. Six times Champion Sire, Surumu has also been Champion Broodmare Sire no less than 11 times in the last 20 years and his name figures in most of the pedigrees of the Champions bred at Fährhof. One of Surumu’s best sons is Acatenango, whose 16 wins in Germany and France included seven Group One races and whose progeny include the Japan Cup winner, Lando. Surumu is also the broodmare sire of 2002 German Champion Sire Lomitas, sire of the magnificent Silvano, ensuring this great Fährhof stallion dynasty continues.

In Walther’s later years, Andreas helped him on the stud, which also encompasses a separate 135acre farm founded in 1999 at Haberloh, providing a peaceful and secluded setting for youngstock. Andreas eventually took over Fährhof, on Walther’s passing, whilst his father Klaus acquired the 1,200acre Newsells Park Stud in Newmarket, England in 2000. Fährhof had originally been founded for the family’s warm bloods, Klaus being an Olympic dressage rider, Andreas later competing in dressage in the European Championships, but as its reputation for top class thoroughbreds grew, so did the need for a commercial operation. Klaus built up the historic Newsells Park Stud into one of Europe’s most successful commercial breeding operations, before his untimely death in 2008, leaving Andreas at the helm. The policy at Newsells Park has been to invest in the best, with most of the broodmares boasting successful racing careers.

The history of Newsells Park Stud dates back to The Domesday Book of 1086, when it was valued at £6. In the Middle Ages, Newsells was owned by Lord de Scales, who was important enough to be mentioned by Joan of Arc in a letter. Sir Humphrey de Trafford and his family owned Newsells from 1926 to 1972, when among his most notable successes were breeding the 1959 Derby winner, Parthia, and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner, Alcide, a Classic tradition carried on by Andreas Jacobs. In 2008, a new stallion facility, the Grange Farm Stallion Unit, was developed on the west side of the stud.

With two of the finest studs in Europe under his Chairmanship, Andreas also added South Africa’s Main Chance Farm to the Fährhof portfolio. Already an established success, Maine Chance has a great history of producing champion racehorses and boasts five consecutive Breeder’s Championship titles from 1997 to 2002. Again, it has been added to the Fährhof commercial operation, with a policy of breeding to sell.

The Jacobs family may owe their modern business interests to chocolate and confectionary, but they take great pride in their rural roots, the family having farmed in Northern Germany for 500 years. This ingrained passion and knowledge of nature clearly manifests itself in their love of horses and Andreas, who must juggle the chocolate business during the week with the thoroughbred business at the weekends, says quite succinctly, “I prefer walking the paddocks than walking the racecourse.”

Gestüt Fährhof stands the stallions Sabiango, Tiger Hill and Campanologist; Newsells Park Stud stands Mount Nelson and Equiano and has acquired Nathaniel for the 2013 season; Maine Chance Farms stands Black Minnaloushe, the Fährhof bred Lateral, the Fährhof bred Querari, the Newsells Park bred Gitano Hernando and the Fährhof bred Silvano, Horse of the Year in 2001.

 

Tell us how you entered the breeding world and how difficult was it getting started? “As a family we are farmers and we love nature. We know breeding and we take great pride in breeding. We have tried to define ourselves as an entrepreneur family, shaping our business interests and our environment. We have all been raised to undertake something, to be a creator of something and not just sit back. I look at horses as entrepreneurial and I hope I am adding something new to the wisdom of breeding. I am fourth generation business and third generation thoroughbred breeding, so there is a long tradition there and I have some very big footsteps to fill. I do it with pride and bullishness!

“One very big advantage for me was that my grandfather started the thoroughbred breeding from a background of riding warm bloods, which we have all done. Many wealthy people get involved with thoroughbreds without understanding horses. I love horses and I can get close to horses – when the vet calls, I know the problems he’s discussing. It makes me feel at home in the industry.

“My grandfather founded the stud 50 years ago in the second part of his life and as he got older it was a surprise to me that he asked me to help him. He had four children and 16 grandchildren, so I wondered, why me? But it changed my life. I knew the stud very well and had always ridden there and I began helping him in 1992. He asked me to run it in 1995 and the good news is that it was a slow transformation, as he got older the more and more I did, so it was a very easy start for me. It was also a great time to start, as I started in 1996 when we bred and owned the first and second in the Deutsche Derby.”

What was the major turning point in your career? “That was my grandfather’s request that I take over Gestüt Fährhof. In recent years it has been my father’s request to run Newsells Park Stud. That was my introduction to a global perspective, away from Germany and the family business.”

What has been the best professional decision you have made? “That’s a tough one, because a lot of my decisions are not proven yet. Buying into Nathaniel just before he won the Eclipse Stakes last weekend looks like a very good decision today, just as buying Equiano as a prospective stallion looks good. But will he be a good stallion? We won’t know for five years.

“Probably my best decision was to bring Lomitas, who we bred, back from the USA to stand in Europe, as he became one of the best stallion in Germany in the last 50 years, so that was the right proven decision.”

What has been your greatest disappointment? “This sport is all about hope and so that also brings lots of disappointment that you must shred and throw in the garbage, or you can’t move on. Thank God I never sold a mare that then became a superstar. I am quite disappointed by the betting environment. It is a market we can hardly control and my biggest disappointment is that European racing, with the exception of France, is going downhill because of the betting market.”

What do you consider your greatest breeding triumph? “For myself, the first good horse I bred was Silvano. He won the Gr.1 Arlington Million in the USA, the Gr.1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong and the Gr.1 Singapore Cup. He was also fourth in the Cox Plate and third in the Dubai Sheema Classic, so he was an international superstar, renowned as much for his toughness and constitution as his indomitable will and extraordinary ability to accelerate in an instant. I will always respect him as the consummate traveller with a perfect temperament. It was lovely to get him back to stand at our stud in South Africa, he has come full circle. In his first year in South Africa, he sired a Derby winner and an Oaks winner – what more can you expect!

“At Newsells Park Stud we have already bred the good filly Strawberrydaiquiri, Gr.1 Ascot Gold Cup winner Rites Of Passage and Classic winner Masked Marvel, winner of the St Leger in 2011, and we have only had the stud for ten years. Another we bred there was Gitano Hernando, who justified my belief in the Niniski sire line when winning the Gr.1 Singapore International Cup in 2011 and Gr.1 Goodwood Stakes at Santa Anita. He is out of Ginos Spirits, a funny sort of American mare that I thought would combine with the Niniski line through Hernando. The first mare we bought was Spirit Of Eagles, another tough American mare, and she bred Silvano.

“For my grandfather, the greatest must be Acatenango, the 1985 Deutsche Derby winner, unbeaten that year and Horse of the Year three years in succession, and his sire Sumuru, who appears in over 80% of German pedigrees and is the broodmare sire of Lomitas. Lomitas was second in the Deutsche Derby before winning three Group Ones in a row to also become Horse of the Year with an International Classification of 131.”

What has been your most satisfying day at the sales? My grandfather never sold horses, but my father wanted Newsells Park to be commercial. We now sell 70% of the Fährhof yearlings, 90% of the Newsells Park yearlings and 95% of the Maine Chance Farms yearlings. We probably have around 160 yearlings hitting the ground at the sales every year. We’re very happy to sell what we’re good at, which is good German bloodlines, good products of Monsun, always solid and not just fashionable. 

Good Classic horses, not just early maturing, and quality in the long term. Newsells Park has been in the top ten leading consignors at Tattersalls October Sale Book 1 for the last five years and the 2011 highlight was the Dansili colt out of Flawly realising 480,000gns when purchased by Demi O’Byrne. Newsells Park has also been the top UK consignor at the Arqana August Yearling Sale in Deauville every year since 2008, and was the leading consignor at the DBS St Leger Sales in 2009.”

What has been your proudest moment in racing? “Difficult. I was so happy to win my first biggest Group One with Silvano in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, but looking back to last Saturday, that was also very special – Nathaniel winning the Eclipse Stakes and Princess Victoria winning the Garden Province Stakes in Durban. To win two Group Ones across the world in the one day was very exciting.”

Has there been anybody in the industry who has had an impact on your career and you admire? “I really admire all the grooms, who work hard day and night and they really can’t be supported and encouraged enough. When you see what a horse needs, it takes a very good character and temperament to provide that for them. That’s what I admire the most when I go to the stables. I’ve found the grooms in South Africa are the best in the world, they don’t wear watches because they don’t need to, they have more time and are more calm.

“The person to influence me the most was my grandfather, who was everything. Very passionate, very detailed, very generous. He came up with some strange matings, but when he loved something he really got into it. He loved Nijinsky, I don’t really know why, it wasn’t obvious, and sometimes used the strangest stallions and I don’t know why. I wish I could have asked him before he passed away. Lirung, who won the 1986 Gr.1 Prix de Jacques le Marois, was by Connaught. Why?! When you read about him, you have to ask why choose him?

“There are also a lot of people on the horse side that I’m closer to than the racing side, for example, my good friend Monty Roberts. He helped us a lot and devoted a chapter of his book to Lomitas. He has made the life of the horse a better place. I have been lucky to work with so many wonderful trainers, such as Andreas Wohler and my racing manager Simon Stokes.”

If you had the power to make one change in the thoroughbred industry, what would it be? “The industry’s dependence on bookmakers is too much. I would introduce one global 24 hour TV channel for better marketing and betting opportunities and unite the industry. To have just one TV channel and have one strong face, which we don’t have. It would provide much better marketing. I have worked in sports marketing and it is so easy to get sponsors for soccer and all other sports, but not racing.”

Can you name a best horse bred or sold? “Silvano has the biggest heart and biggest brain of any horse. He is very intelligent and kind. When she was younger I used to say that I could happily let my four-year-old daughter play with him in his paddock, he is such a gentleman. He doesn’t know he’s a horse, he thinks he is a human, he is so intelligent. I have bred a lot of good horses and my grandfather bred even better ones, but Silvano is my favourite.”

What other aspirations would you like to achieve in the future? “At Newsells Park Stud the most enjoyable would be to breed a Classic winning filly that we own and race in our own silks, anywhere in the world. And the 24 hour racing channel – we must get it done.”

What is the best advice you can give a young breeder entering the industry? “Quality, quality, quality. Quality staff and team – you must get the people right first, then the horses will be right. Attitude is important, you must be patient. Those who enter the industry have money and often when you have money you’re not patient.”

 

Footnote:

Jacobs Foundation
The Jacobs Foundation is devoted to promoting the development of young people to become important members of society. In addition to a modern school education the Foundation supports projects directed towards life skills, computer skills and activities associated with nature and the environment. The Foundation has helped improve the quality of life and social prospects for young people in Central and South America, Africa and Europe, and presented the British Racing School with a grant of £300,000 to improve facilities. The Foundation also supported the BHEST Racing to School education programme with a donation of £100,000.

About the Author

Lissa Oliver
Lissa Oliver is based in Kildare, Ireland, and writes for The Irish Field, Racetrack magazine (Australia), the daily European Bloodstock News (EBN), European Trainer magazine, International Thoroughbred, and Thoroughbred Owner Breeder, as well as producing work for the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders' Association. She has been nominated for the prestigious Clive Graham Journalist Of The Year Award since 2007 and has been a finalist in 2012 and 2013, and is also the author of three novels, 'Nero The Last Caesar' and the horseracing thrillers 'Gala Day' and Golden Dagger nominated 'Chantilly Dawns'.