Kiwi Vendors Play Vital Role in Hong Kong Superstars

27 July 2023

Golden Sixty and Lucky Sweynesse (NZ) are two of the biggest stars in world racing.

golden sixty trish
Golden Sixty (inside)  breezing up at the 2017 NZB Ready to Run Sale.
Photo: Trish Dunell

Aside from their elite-level of ability, the pair share a common bond as graduates of New Zealand Bloodstock’s Ready To Run Sale.

After their respective purchase as two-year-olds by their Hong Kong owners, the pair remained in New Zealand for further education and development through the trials system before heading up to Hong Kong.

While they have gone on to become fan favourites and household names, also cheering home every win are the young New Zealand vendors who prepared and sold the future stars to Hong Kong connections.

Sam Beatson’s Riversley Park set Golden Sixty on the path to stardom. The son of Medaglia D’Oro was sold for NZ$300,000 to trainer Francis Lui at the 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Ready To Run Sale and Beatson has fond memories of the now three-time Horse of the Year.

“He was an athletic horse, he was a little bit quirky in the early days but he just had natural ability,” Beatson said.

“He didn’t do much galloping, he just had one gallop leading into the breeze-ups, he was such an athletic horse.”

While Riversley Park have sold a number of quality horses including good Hong Kong performers Beluga and Super Football, plus exciting talent Greenwich, Golden Sixty has given the breeze-up consignor, breaker and pre-trainer a true flag-bearer.

Sam Beatson
Sam Beatson 
Photo: Trish Dunell

“To have a headline horse like that is good for the business,” Beatson said. “We’ve sold plenty of good ones but there are not too many Golden Sixtys so he’s a good profile for Riversley Park up in Hong Kong and around the world to be fair.”

A fourth-generation horseman, Beatson and wife Hana operate from a property on the outskirts of Cambridge in the Waikato, and have broken in around 200 horses this season, in addition to pre-training “a few” for selected clients. 

Riversley Park are expecting to have a draft of just under 40 horses for the New Zealand Bloodstock Ready To Run Sale which will take place on November 22 and 23 at Karaka, with breeze-ups held on October 16 and 17 on the grass track at Te Rapa.

“I’ve got a fair few of my own horses as well as clients’ horses and we’ve got a nice draft stacking up again,” Beatson said.

The process for building a Ready To Run draft can start years prior, with horses specifically sourced for the sale with a focus on supplying the right horses to Hong Kong.

“We always target something with a bit of size and speed in the pedigree,” Beatson said of horses suited to Hong Kong.

“With the yearlings, they normally go out for a spell after they come back from the sales and then do a break-in preparation somewhere along the line.

“I generally try a little preparation with them just three or four weeks just to keep them ticking over, it’s good for their brain, joints and bones.

“They normally come into the main preparation at the start of August and all things going right they breeze up in the middle of October. We do heaps of slow work early on and not too much galloping. A big focus is just keeping their mind and body sound.”

Beatson’s good friend Adrian Stanley is another young vendor making a big impression and from his Woburn Farm base, also in Cambridge, Stanley has produced a headline act in Lucky Sweynesse, whom he sold for NZ$90,000 at the 2020 Ready To Run Sale.

lucky sweynesse
Lucky Sweynesse (NZ) pictured for the 2020 NZB Ready to Run Sale

Bred by Luigi Muollo, along with Allan Sharrock and Paul Dombroski, Stanley first spotted Lucky Sweynesse in a paddock in Taranaki on the West Coast of New Zealand’s North Island.

“He was not a big physical horse and he wasn't that well grown as a younger horse but he had a lot of improvement in him,” Stanley said.

“He had a good frame to him and was a good size. Honestly, I didn’t think he was going to be a sprinter, I thought he’d be a better miler on type, but he’s just shown what a classy animal he is.

“It means a lot to have produced a champion galloper like Lucky Sweynesse. We’ve put a lot of time, effort and money into developing the farm and developing the business and all you want to do is get good horses and sell good horses.

“I try to prepare a draft where I believe in every horse I sell. I don't want to take a horse to the sales and sell them knowing that they're going be slow, so I want quality over quantity.”

Stanley said given Hong Kong racing was largely focused on a program for older horses, it dictated the type of horse offered in his draft, whether they were horses he had bred or horses pinhooked.

“I like an athletic horse. They don't have to be two-year-olds so they can have a bit of a time and be well looked after as we put them through the system here,” he said.

Adrian Stanley
Adrian Stanley 
Photo: Trish Dunell

“I’m good friends with Sam Beatson at Riversley Park and we've got similar processes. They come in and then get the best feed and the best supplements for all their joints, we don’t cut any corners. Everything has got to be perfect.

“You’re not pushing these animals to run in early two-year-old races so we know if they’re showing a bit of immaturity you back off them. I think that's what it all comes down to is management of the horse and not pushing them as a younger horse and they’re getting up to Hong Kong as mature animals with good healthy joints and they’ve all got their brain intact.”

Woburn Farm is likely to have around 18 horses for this year’s Ready To Run Sale including a half-brother to Lucky Sweynesse by Contributer who is sure to attract plenty of interest.- Andrew Birch, NZTM