“Are they worth backing?”
As published in the Sporting Post April 2012
SPORTING POST - Breeding is not for the faint hearted, and with the Emperors Palace National Yearling Sales coming up, amongst the usual fanfare and hype in the build-up, Breeders have the opportunity to take to the stage. This is definitely a platform that suits the stayer rather than the sprinter! One can’t help but notice the smaller player creeping in and being represented in the statistics of the Top Breeders.
One of the players that comes to mind in particular is Backworth Stud, who seem to be punching well above their weight. With just 30 runners in the current year, Backworth takes 30th position in the Top Breeder’s by Stakes and from here, are in 8th position with an Average Earnings per Runner of R48,091, and in first position with a Winners to Runners ratio of 53%.
This is no mean feat - they seem to have slipped in by the back door!
Despite branding themselves as a boutique Stud, Backworth seems to have achieved this remarkable result from a middle of the range band of broodmares, mated to a moderate range of Stallions, and sold at very affordable prices. Their progeny is performing for a range of trainers, locally across the country, internationally in Dubai and Mauritius, running on all tracks, and showing resilience while still running and winning as 7 and 8 year olds.
Herman Brown-trained Chocolicious put Backworth Stud on the international stage in Dubai, whilst locally there have been Stakes winners with First Again for Neil Bruss, Variometer for Louis Goosen, Raise The Bar for Paul Matchett, and numerous other stakes places. With more than half their progeny winning, they certainly seem “worth backing”.
On closer inspection, we realise this is no coincidence.
Breeding began in 1999 and with just 12 of their own broodmares; this small Stud has metamorphosed into a very professional operation.
As a private establishment, they rely on Keith Russon’s veterinary knowledge gained from his Onderstepoort studies, and his experience from running successful Clouds End Stud in Zimbabwe. His actions are fuelled by a blinded addiction to all things Equine! Partner Ian Todd brings a commercial and marketing background to the business, and together they have found a successful balance.
Backworth is run on passion - where knowledge, expertise, attention to detail and a fine aesthetic sense blend together.
Geographically, it is arguably one of South Africa’s most beautiful studs, standing / nestling in the Southern Berg area of Richmond Eston, slightly out of the popular KZN breeding ground. Towering avenues of trees, structured gardens, breathtaking views, and near century old rambling thatch buildings, Backworth reeks of establishment. Though historically not run as a horse property, the previous ownership of Lorraine and Peter Leftwich, brought an element of equine provenance, through the connection to her father Raymond Ellis, of the Hartford Stud reputation.
Equinely, the horses look relaxed and satisfied, grazing in lush paddocks shaded under massive plane trees, contentedly gazing out over incredible vistas. Groomed and attended by a committed team of staff, fed to a controlled and monitored programme, and supported by loyal, reputable external veterinary and farrier expertise, these horses get a good start in life.
Commercially, Backworth Stud’s website is most professional. Having a current, entertaining Blog, and with transparent attention to detail, one can see the focus is on a calculated and serious investment in upgrading the Broodmares. Their band of about 30 mares, have foals at foot and current stallion matings, which cover the spectrum, including the potency from some of the top performers.
Aesthetically - don’t turn down an invitation for a visit. The luncheons and dinners are sublime, entertaining memorable, and the whole experience a treat for the senses. And if you leave at the end of an elegant day with a share or two in some Backworth progeny, the Backworth elixir will have worked its magic - but with their results, it could show some wisdom.
Backworth Stud offers the visitor and investor an opportunity to embrace the romance of a thoroughbred, packaged with solid sound scientific upbringing, with a proven reputation of an above average chance of beating the market odds!