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Darling View thoroughbreds – Brent & Clive Atwell

Breeding has been in our family forever. The difference now is that we are a lot more commercial. We used to just breed for ourselves to race horses. Our family history in horses started with my dad’s grandfather, who trained and owned the 1925 Perth Cup winner, Great Applause. From there the family has always bred horses to race, both in harness and thoroughbreds. My grandfather was into breeding for harness and he and my dad (Clive) went on to breed and race thoroughbreds.  When I came back to work at the farm about 8 years ago we decided to make a go of it commercially. 

We stand a couple of stallions. Our hallmark stallion, Patronize, has been very good to us over the years.  He has an excellent runners-to-winners ratio, and has given us a number of great race horses over the years.  He has been very consistent and has sired a couple of nice stakes winners now.  We also have the new season sire, Lucky Street.  He has been very popular in a tough climate and has attracted a good book of mares this season. A great race performer and locally bred, he is by Oratorio, a champion 2 yr old sire.  He was a champion 2 yr old himself in WA and went on to win a stakes race at 3 years. We are really excited to have him here.

Looking forward to February, we have a draft of 11 yearlings heading to the sales.  It’s a really good mix of WA bred horses, well related to WA stakes winners, and also a nice bunch of eastern states bred horses.  It won’t be long before they come in for their yearling prep, Michelle from Milnes will help us assess each horse and we fine tune a specific diet for each one to give them the best chance. We pay attention to every detail to ensure our horses are professionally grown and prepared.

I’m passionate about the industry and have become quite involved; I managed to get roped into being the president of the WA Thoroughbred Breeders Association. But it is exciting, we can only do so much, but if we try and improve each year we are progressing in the right direction.  We are trying to really promote the yearling sales this year and promote thoroughbred racing in WA, which with good prize money and breeding bonuses, is very exciting.  We also are involved in the proposed new sales venue, which is a very positive development for breeding in WA.  We intend that the 2019 sales will be held at the new, purpose built venue, making the whole experience more pleasurable and professional for both buyers and sellers. 

We’ve had a very decent year on our farm here.  We have had some good rain, which has given us a great hay season.  We grow and cut all our own hay for the farm and we also run about 110 Angus cattle on a couple of properties.  The hay fits in well with our feeding program and combines with our ration, Pegasus Studmaster.  We simply combine the pellets with Lucerne chaff and our meadow hay.  This way we know that all the nutrients for our horses, both during gestation and then once the foals are born and growing are provided from Studmaster, while the hay and Lucerne provide the additional energy and fibre they need to remain happy and healthy. We made the change to Studmaster when we made the decision to become commercial, and the increase in size and bone of the stock we’ve produced since then is very noticeable.

My tip for getting through the breeding season – patience! It is not always easy.  We have had an up and down season breeding wise.  We have lost a couple of really good broodmares and a couple of nice foals, some in the east, and one to snake bite here.  You just have to push on through, and thank god for insurance, but it does test you.  The end-product is really why we do it.  I get a huge thrill out of breeding the horse and then taking it through to the sales, selling it, and then watching it go on to race.  The thrill of racing a nice horse, and seeing horses you’ve bred win races is really special – it is a passion. 

Everyone is always trying to breed the next champion and you just never know what is around the corner, and that’s why we keep doing it.