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Leading Breeders Of The World: with Garry Chittick of Waikato Stud

By Paul Vettise March 21 2011

    Waikato Stud encompasses more than 1200 acres of prime farm land that has been the breeding ground of champions for more than 40 years. The farm has been a four-time winner of the New Zealand Breeder of the Year Award and in the first decade of the new millennium was responsible for more Group One winners than any other in Australasia. Their influence has also been felt further afield with graduate Starcraft,

who won four top-flight events in Australia and New Zealand before an overseas campaign saw him become the first NZ-bred Group One winner in Europe. Waikato Stud's Garry Chittick reflects on his celebrated breeding career.

Tell us how you entered the breeding world & how difficult was it getting started? "My father was a market gardener in Lower Hutt and in those days Trentham was a really big day out for mothers and fathers and once I was 12 I went with them. My father raced one or two horses and later when we were sheep farming in the Wairarapa we agisted a few and I bought Super Gray in 1975. I moved Thorndon Park to Palmerston North in 1980 and we bought Waikato Stud in 1994."

What was the major turning point in your career? "Quite obviously it was buying Centaine. We didn't have a lot of money behind us at the time and you need one like him to attract business. He was an outstanding stallion and now broodmare sire."

What has been the best professional decision you have made? "Buying Waikato Stud as a going concern. It was a huge decision and logistically moving 130 or 140 horses by float and equipment etc was a major exercise."

What has been your greatest disappointment? "By and large we've had a great run and have been very fortunate. There's no certainties in this business and you have your ups and downs but we've had a lot of fun and not one single big disappointment."

What do you consider your greatest breeding triumph? "It was the year we bred six Group One winners. We also get a big kick out of developing our own families and hanging on to the fillies to carry on the tradition."

What has been your most satisfying day at the sales? "Two or three years ago at Karaka we sold every horses we offered and not necessarily top of the tree prices - some sell well and others don't. It's very hard to do but we offered 69 yearlings and sold 69 which was very satisfying."

What has been your proudest moment in racing? "The week Glamour Puss won the Sallinger and the Age Classic and later getting the invite to Royal Ascot was a great thrill. Daffodil winning the AJC Oaks was tremendous and Legs in the Kelt and O'Reilly winning the Horse of the Year."

Has their been anybody in the Industry who has had an impact on your career and you admire? "I've had great experiences with a lot of people and particularly the Williams family from Te Parae in Masterton. No matter what stallion I bought they were with me and tremendous supporters."

If you had the power to make one change in the thoroughbred Industry, what would it be? "In terms of New Zealand racing at present the Government has served us very well in the reduction of duty three or four years ago and we've got to get off our backsides and run it properly. I'd like to see a few personnel changes to restore confidence - we're in a position to take full control of our destiny."

Can you name a best horse bred or sold? "Without a doubt Starcraft. It was a wonderful thrill to see the success he had in the Northern Hemisphere with Group One wins in France and England. It was something that hadn't been achieved before and he was a wonderful horse."

What other aspirations would like to achieve in the future? "I just want to see Waikato Stud continue to succeed for the family. (Son) Mark has been very, very enthusiastic and does a fine job and I'd like to continue to race the odd good horse."

What is the best advice you can give a young breeder entering the industry? "It's a fantastic business to have a crack at. You can get one good horse from anywhere and it can change your life. Have the courage to pick the horse with the conformation. We were the first to do it with the colonial-breds and people asked us why get Centaine but they didn't care where he came from after he had left 13 two-year-old winners."

About the Author

Paul Vettise
PAUL VETTISE is a New Zealand-based freelance racing journalist and a former two-time President of the NZ Racing Journalists' Association. As well as a regular contributor to thoroughbred publications and websites, he is contracted to several leading stud farms to service their media requirements. He is also the owner of the popular web-based test-mating service Siremate (www.siremate.co.nz) and a pedigree advisor to both commercial and hobby breeders.