Later this week well over 100 thoroughbred yearlings will leave their natural habitat at studs and properties throughout Queensland to take up temporary stabling at the Rockhampton Showgrounds.
Some 113 of the young aristocrats will be based in a maze of deportable stables at the Robert Schwarten Pavilion for the annual Capricornia Yearling Sale which takes place next Sunday, April 8 from 11am.
The transformation of the complex is itself a major exercise but imagine the logistics involved in uprooting 20 yearling thoroughbreds from their birthplace and transporting them 717km to Rockhampton.
That’s exactly what will be happening at Neville Stewart’s Oaklands Stud, Umbiram outside Toowoomba before dawn on Wednesday when that number of young horses will be dispatched to Rockhampton.
Stewart has been breeding thoroughbreds at Oaklands for 37 years and in recent times has been supplying the biggest draft to the CYS and is the leading vendor.
So, imagine the organisation in preparing such a draft of yearlings to travel such a long haul by livestock transport to Rockhampton and then be presented at their very best for buyers just four days later?
It is something that most buyers and indeed this writer take for granted so who better that Stewart to explain the perspective from a stud master, breeder or seller’s point of view.
‘‘Firstly, this draft of 10 colts and 10 fillies will have had an 11 weeks preparation before the Rocky Sale. That involves being stabled; worked -that is exercised; groomed; shampooed as well as all aspects of horse’s husbandry.
They will have been well educated on floats and livestock transports. Part of that education involves short trips all around the Oaklands farm properties back to their current stabling complex. When they are picked-up to be transported to Rocky for the eight hours-plus trip on Wednesday they will be used to the transport aspect.
We are arriving a day earlier at the Rockhampton Showground sales complex this year so as to allow the 20 youngsters to get well settled-in and ready for inspections from Thursday through to Sunday. It’s a big exercise but I have learnt through taking yearlings to sales throughout the country that preparation is the most important aspect. Buyers know when they purchase a yearling from Oaklands they have been well educated which is a big plus when they are put into early training’’, Stewart said.
Neville Stewart said he is a great believer in the ethos – “failing to prepare is preparing to fail” and it is important to get all aspects from the vendor’s point of view “down Pat”.
This came to fruition last year when because of the widespread flooding the Oaklands draft of yearlings were cut off on route to Rockhampton and had to bed down overnight at a country Showgrounds.
They eventually arrived at the Rockhampton complex a day later that expected but much to his relief handed the experience nonplussed.
Such a large draft of horses demands an array of competent handlers to attend their needs at the Showgrounds complex.
“Including myself there will be five people coming up from Oaklands and I will employ four staff from Rockhampton. That means about one person to every two horses”, Steward concluded.
After that it is all in “the lap of the Gods” or in a sale such as the Capricornia Yearling Sale up to the buyers.
‘’Out of our hands when the yearling is presented in the ring for auction. You can only do your best and I know in the Oaklands case we have done that”, Stewart said.
In the cut-throat breeding industry where successful results are crucial, Stewart knows with as many as four possible starters in from last year’s CYS in Saturday’s $118,000 Capricornia 2YO Classic (1200m), Oaklands is indeed doing it right.