Article courtesy of Taylor Strong, February 2015



    Tuapeka Lodge stud, the longest continuous vendor at the premier yearling sale, has completed 50 years of operation. The stud has bred a host of top performers, including Ideal Scott, Iraklis, Brad Adios, Tuapeka Star, Tuapeka Knight, Fine Jade, Ermis and Reality Check, along with Tuapeka Vale, the dam of Monkey King. The stud aims to breed from a maximum of 10 mares a year, selling all the colts and retaining some fillies.
    The stud was established at Lawrence(Central Otago) in 1965 with the mare Charlton Lady by Joan Cummings, continued by her widower, Cliff and now operated by their sons, Dan and Peter and daughter, Julie Davie. It was established on the family sheep and cattle farm as a hobby and named for the area, a goldfield in the 1860s. Lawrence, on the bank of the Tuapeka River (a tributary of the Clutha River, NZ’s second longest), became centre for the area. The nearby Gabriels Gully was the site of the first Otago goldrush in 1861.

    Joan Cummings had gained experience breeding ponies. Dan, a semi-retired catholic priest based in Lawrence, is in charge of assessing pedigrees and arranging matings of the mares. He breaks in and pre-trains the fillies and supervises their racing careers. He is licenced to train and drive at trials. He has been successful as a trainer and driver on race day. Dan has prepared the yearlings for sale the past three years. Peter is responsible for looking after the stock and handling and leading of the foals. Julie provides overall management for the stud.
    Tuapeka Lodge has topped the sale of several occasions, the first in 1977 when Cliff and Joan Cummings sold a colt by Bachelor Hanover from Sakuntala for $26,000, then a record price for a yearling in Australia and New Zealand. The colt, Armbro View, was bought by Laurie Green, of Melbourne. He had found a half brother, Brad Adios a bargain at $1600 at the yearling sale 12 months earlier. Brad Adios (by Brad Hanover) carried on to win the Victoria and Queensland Derbies and amass 29 wins.
    Sakuntala (Armbro Del – Hindu Star) was unraced due to a shoulder injury and Mr and Mrs Cummings bought her in 1974 from Templeton breeders Mr and Mrs Ted Graham after she had left one foal, Abbe Princess. Sakuntala also left Tuapeka Star, winner of the group one 1979 Edgar Tatlow Stakes at Moonee Valley and 21 other races when raced on lease in Australia. Tuapeka Star (by Knowing Bret) became the dam of Iraklis, winner of the 1997 New Zealand Cup, NZ Free-For-All and Miracle Mile. Iraklis was sold for $88,000 at the 1994 sale. He was retired with stake earnings of $1,019,042.
    Sakuntala left 13 winners from 18 foals. She was named the NZ broodmare of excellence in 1995, an award given to Tuapeka Star in 1997 and another Tuapeka Lodge matron, Maureen’s Dream in 2011. The latter left 11 winners from 13 foals.
    “Mum bought mares on bloodlines. She bought Sakuntala from an advertisement in the Trotting Calendar (now Harnessed) and another mare in Mains Lady because she was by Light Brigade from a U Scott mare,’’ said Dan. ‘’Selling the progeny gave her the money to cover service fees.’’
    Charlton Lady (Hal Tryax – Loyal Winner), the foundation mare of Tuapeke Lodge Stud, won as a 4yr-old for the then Gore horseman, Keith Lawlor,who owned,trained, bred and drove Lunar Chance to win the 1975 NZ Cup. Charlton Lady won as a 4yr-old at Winton in 1964 and she was retired the following season after she fractured a sesamoid. Her half sister, Irish Idyll (by Dillon Hall) became the dam of Lunar Chance. Charlton Lady was in foal to Dick Adios and left a filly. “The filly (Dolly Moore) was entered for the National sale but had to be withdrawn because of filling in a leg --- not a good start for mum,’’ recalled Dan. Dolly Moore was sold for $800 as a yearling at an Oamaru sale in 1968.
    The second foal of Charlton Lady was Tuapeka’s Garry (by Garrison Hanover) and sold for $4000 at the 1970 National yearling sale to Jack Honan, of New South Wales. Tuapeka’s Garry was successful on the racetrack and stood at stud in Australia. The 1970 National sale, then conducted by National Mortgage Agency Company, of NZ Ltd and Wright Stephenson and Co Ltd, was the first to feature yearlings from Tuapeka Lodge. The stud also sold a colt by Forward – Highland May for $1500 and a colt by Lumber Dream – Nyallo’s Pet for $1000 after buying the pair as weanlings.
    “We have seen ups and downs in the sale, especially about the time of the share market crash in 1987 (October),’’ said Dan. The stud sold a filly by Lordship from Sakuntala, named Tuapeka Royale, for $180,000 at the sale that year. Two years later a filly by Smooth Fella from Sakuntala, named Tuapeka Vale, fetched $17,000. Tuapeka Vale won six minor races in Australia, took a mile record of 1.56.6 in a time trial and became the dam of Monkey King, winner of the NZ Trotting Cup in 2009 and 2010 and a Miracle Mile. Tuapeka Royale did not win a race in three starts and left a minor winner. The stud also sold a filly by Smooth Fella – Tuapeka Star, named Tuapeka Kay, for $180,000 in 1987.
    The stud can lay claim to 10 sale toppers, the others being Young Tala (Young Charles – Sakuntala c $20,000 in 1979); Tuapeka Direct (Smooth Fella – Sakuntala c $81,000 in 1985); Kokona (Vance Hanover – Maureen’s Dream f $25,000 in 1991); Ermis (Smooth Fella – Tuapeka Star c $34,000 in 1990); Urrain (Vance Hanover – Marsa Star c $85,000 in 1993); Iraklis (Vance Hanover –Tuapeka Star c, $88,000 in 1994), Lavros Harrier (Falcon Seelster – Marsa Star c, $170,000 in 1999) and Tuapeka Mariner (Christian Cullen-Seamoon c, $250,000 in 2008.
    Ideal Scott is the most recent major winner for Tuapeka Lodge with success at group one level in the 2013 Australasian Breeders Crown, Cranbourne Cup, Queensland Pacing Championship and Blacks A Fake and Northern Derby. The son of American Ideal - Tuapeka Wings sold for $19,000 at the 2010 Premier Sale. He has amassed $7555,614 in Stakes.
    Tuapeka Lodge offered a colt by Courage Under Fire from Spring Thaw, tracing to Sakuntala at the Premier sale in February.  The other offering from the stud was a filly by Mach Three from Raconteur, tracing to Main's Lady.  Spring Thaw has left five winners including Talaspring and Hez The Artisan.  Talaspring won the group three Ladyship Cup in Victoria.  The filly is the second foal of lightly raced Raconteur, and half sister by Bettor's Delight to Machtu, who won nine of his 13 starts in Perth last year.  He had won three for five for Pukekohe trainer Brian Hughes.


Historical Notes written by Dan in 2013

    My mother, Joan Cummings, first started taking yearlings to the sale in 1968 but missed the National Sale because the filly involved got some minor filling in a leg, it sold at the mixed sale a few months later. That wasn’t the best start but was certainly part of an essential learning curve. I’m not sure when Mum started calling herself Tuapeka Lodge but it was quite early and was the name she had been using for a small Romney Stud that she had. The National Yearling Sale as it was known then had started in 1954. I’m not sure how many yearling were catalogued but think it would have been around a hundred. The best of the yearling crop did not get taken to the sales at that time it was geared more towards yearlings that people did not want to keep. There were very few people who actually bred yearlings for the purpose of taking them to the sales.

    Presentation of the yearling or the leader was probably more notable for the lack of it than anything else. If there was a pretty girl leading she generally got the auctioneer’s attention before the horse. The women’s movement knocked this on the head and perhaps the gradual improvement in overall presentation and professionalism also had something to do with it. “Best Presented” competitions were a feature for many years and were keenly contested. There was always a bit of jealousy and claims of bias in the judges, or skull-duggery from the agents, but it all served the purpose of lifting the standard. Today some yearlings might be considered overdone rather that underdone but it is always great to see somebody trying something a little different to make their yearling stand out from the rest. You hardly ever see a poor yearling at the sales now

    Artificial Insemination was still a long way off and a Stallion’s book was full at around one hundred. Like now there were always a few stallions that were at the top of the pile and they were hard to get into, perhaps there were more in that range then than now because of the limited numbers they could service. Johnny Globe must have been coming to the end of his term because I don’t remember us ever having one by him, but Garrison Hanover and Lumber Dream were two of the most popular. We used Lumber Dream before he really became popular and were lucky to get a filly or two by him in the early days which set the stud up well for the future.

    Relationships with the various Stud Farms where stallions are standing have always been important and still are. This is not made easier by transported semen, even more so when it is frozen and the horse is on the other side of the world and there might be two or three studs involved as well as the farm where the mare is located. Mum and Dad used to take the mares to stud almost every time and pick them up again. It usually meant more than one trip to Christchurch each year in the old Bedford cattle truck. The mares are now served closer to home at Macca Lodge so we are on the farm several times a year, but visits to the studs whenever possible are still always enjoyable and well worth the effort.

    While most seasons Tuapeka Lodge do support a new boy on the block for one or two of the matings most of the time it is the best stallion we can have access to. This has certainly been expensive over the years but must be part of the reason why our two main families have remained strong and current. There is nothing that could be considered a weak link in the pedigree of any of the mares and some that have not succeeded on the race track have gone on to become good broodmares for us or for others. In fact the two foundation mares, Mains Lady and Sakuntala, were both unsuccessful racehorses and could easily have been culled if they had been around today!

    Culling in any breeding program is important but it is tricky. Size for instance is significant when you take a yearling to the sales, so the size of the mares is a factor when it comes to culling. But there is an old adage which says that “if they are good enough they will be big enough”. Neither Mains Lady nor Sakuntala would have made fifteen hands and their families have not tended to be large either. Monkey King fits that profile but Iraklis doesn’t. The mother of Monkey King was small and light and was sold at the yearling sales for $16,000, the previous year her half sister was sold at the sales for $180,000. There were pressures other than horse sense around in the financial markets at that time though.

    Advertising has always been a part of the Tuapeka Lodge yearling round. Don’t know how the logo came to look the way it does but it slowly became established and logos seem to be important these days so we don’t tamper with it now. While buyers do examine a yearling up close for faults their most important view is from a little distance, they may not know exactly what it is that catches their eye but there is always something they like, or don’t like about the way a horse looks and moves. For that reason we started working with videos in the mid-eighties and the developments in that field have been enormous from the old VHS tapes to YouTube and the Internet. Even the development in quality of YouTube over the few years it has been in existence is breath taking. We bought a new camera recently to take advantage of HD so watch out for next year’s pictures - however they don’t seem to have a camera yet that will make horses actually run faster! Background is interesting: you tend to associate horse properties with post and rail fences, ours is a larger sheep farm so we try to take advantage of the space and avoid fences in the shots, it gives the impression of horses running free in a natural environment.

    To finish I must mention the Southern Bred Southern Reared group that is working hard to emphasis the many advantages of raising horses in the South. Like the horses we are herd animals, we try to run faster than the others and squabble a bit at the feed bin, but we still work together and look out for each other. It is probably the same for the whole industry.
Iraklis at weaning time and as a yearling