THE ORIGINS OF BLUE GUM FARM
Graham Campbell purchased his first horse in the late 1950’s. Named Serene Image and trained by Frank Kersley (and later Meggs Elkington), she won three times and as is often the case with thoroughbred racing, once you get a taste, you develop a passion. That passion sees Blue Gum Farm now celebrating over 35 years of service.
With a metropolitan winning racehorse Graham had his foundation mare. Serene Image was good enough to produce a Stakes winner and she in-turn became the grand-dam and great-grand-dam of further Stakes winners that Graham bred. It was not until 1966 though that Graham and his wife Margaret purchased their first thoroughbred property. Called Gramar Lodge, the property was situated on the outskirts of Melbourne, at East Doncaster, and became home to a small band of broodmares.
“At the time it was just a hobby,” said Graham. “I’d had an interest in racing since I was a kid and had been going to the races with my dad since I could walk. As a result of my time in the golf game, I was able to buy and race a few fillies and developed an interest in the pedigrees and breeding. It really just started from there.”
Golf had been kind to Graham. His skill was such that he was able to develop it into a profession. When it was time for him to move on as resident pro at Yarra Bend golf course, he went full-time into the bloodstock field becoming the General Manager of Dalgety Bloodstock. The year was 1979. Around the same time his eldest son, Philip, expressed an interest in following a similar path. Through Graham’s contacts, Philip was able to secure placement at the English National Stud for the 1979 breeding season.
“It was a fantastic experience,” explained Philip. “I was lucky enough to get on very well with George Roth, the Stallion Manager and Paddy Robinson, the Stud Groom, who both gave me tremendous opportunities. The stallions standing there at the time included Mill Reef, Grundy, Blakeney and Star Appeal and George had me doing Star Appeal, an Arc winner. Paddy allowed me to do foal watch on Saturday nights and the highlight of that was foaling the Aga Khan’s Arc winner Akiyda.”
Time spent in England was complimented by three seasons at Nydrie Stud in Esmont, Virginia. Philip travelled to Nydrie in 1979, ‘80 and ‘81 and was involved with the preparation of the farm’s yearling consignment to the Saratoga Yearling sales in upstate New York. These skills acquired would prove invaluable as Blue Gum Farm began to grow over the next few years.
In 1980 the Campbell’s purchased land in Euroa and named the property Blue Gum Farm. At the Melbourne Premier Yearling Sales, Graham had been selling under Gramar Lodge as a broodmare operation with solid success. His 1981 draft however set new standards and really put the operation on the map. Six colts were prepared by Philip from their Wonga Park property near Warrandyte. They realised a State record average of $45,916. Amongst the six was the Planet Kingdom colt out of Fairway Fun who was the first yearling to sell for over $100,000 in Victoria. Accompanying the draft were many innovative ideas for the time including; a video of the yearlings, brochures, stall cards and brass name plates for the head collars.
1982 was a watershed. The past two years had seen the establishment of the Blue Gum Farm property and this was the first year that Graham and Philip sold yearlings under the Blue Gum banner. Significantly they sold the country’s highest priced yearling filly that year. Named Ziegfield Lass, she went on to become the grand-dam of Champion racehorse Saintly. It was at this sale that the destiny of Blue Gum Farm really took shape via a meeting with US breeder William duPont III, who owned the Pillar Stud in Lexington, Kentucky,
“Bill came to the Melbourne Sales on a tour led by a friend of mine from California,” recalls Philip. “He really enjoyed his trip and purchased three fillies at the sale, including the Group winning 2YO Truly Unfaithful. Bill asked us to look after his horses here in Australia and the quantity and quality continued to grow as he became a major buyer at the Melbourne Sales for many years,” continued Philip.
The following year duPont approached the Campbells about standing a horse of his that was racing successfully in France at the time. The horse, Noalcoholic, was transferred to the stable of Gavin Pritchard-Gordon in Newmarket in 1983. From there he became Europe’s Champion Older Miler.
The French bred Noalcoholic began his career at Blue Gum Farm in 1985. When his first crop of yearlings got to the racetrack, they couldn’t have got the farm on the board quicker. By the end of the 1987/88 racing season, Noalcoholic was Australia’s Champion First Season Sire and the farm was off to a flyer. Since then the farm has been able to develop and combine a reputation of having excellent patronage with a high success rate with stallions. Hot on the heels of Noalcoholic followed successful sires Rancho Ruler, Umatilla, Kenvain, Rubiton and from 1997, a well performed son of Fairy King — Encosta de Lago.
Standing at an initial service fee of just $8,500, Encosta de Lago has, from his time at Blue Gum Farm, established himself in the very top echelon of sires in the country. A resident at Blue Gum Farm until the 2004 breeding season, Encosta de Lago continually upgraded the mares he received. The tremendous record of his progeny on the racetrack is now reflected in the strength of his sales on the yearling circuit.
Coolmore Stud unfortunately lost its world renowned champion sire Danehill in 2003 and as part owner of the rapidly emerging Encosta De Lago, felt that the time was right for his relocation to their Hunter Valley property. The Blue Gum Farm produced Alinghi ($80,000 Melbourne Premier yearling) was proving one of the top two year olds in the country at this time and she would go on to prove one of the real greats of the turf with earnings through $3.5 million on retirement. Alinghi is just one of 14 Encosta De Lago Group One winners conceived at Blue Gum Farm. Another Coolmore owned stallion in Statue Of Liberty (USA) joined the Blue Gum Farm roster in 2004 and immediately set about making an impact with his Blue Gum Farm conceptions. These include the Group One winner Haylist and stakes winners Mic Mac, Tempest Tost, Dan Baroness, Elysees, In The Crown and Broadway Harmony.
It was at this time that Blue Gum Farm and clients purchased an interest in Danehill’s triple Group One winning son Elvstroem. Having already won the VRC Derby as a three year old and the MRC Caulfield Cup as a spring four year old, Elvstroem’s first start for the revised ownership was as an autumn four year old and saw him brilliantly win the Group One C F Orr Stakes over 1400 metres at Caulfield. Next up he added the Group Two St George Stakes over 1800 metres at the same track before finishing fourth in the VRC Australian Cup (Gr1) which was his final race in Australia. The plan had always been to showcase Elvstroem’s ability on the international stage and his first start on foreign soil was against the world’s best milers in the US$2,000,000 Dubai Duty Free (Gr1) at Nad al Sheba. Coming from the outside gate of 15, Elvstroem went straight to the front and that was the last his opponents saw of him as he frolicked to a soft, three and a half length victory. Elvstroem was the first winner from Australia or New Zealand at the world's richest race day, the Dubai World Cup meeting and still one of only two to achieve this remarkable feat.
After rounding out his racing career in England and France, where he added further Group One placings to his resume, Elvstroem commenced stud duties at Blue Gum Farm in 2005. Since that time Elvstroem’s progeny earnings have surpassed Aus$20,000,000, with his current tally of individual stakes winners standing at twelve. Blue Gum Farm was Elvstroem’s breeding home until 2016.
In more recent years the extremely tough and genuine multiple Group One winning sprinter Turffontein has established himself a force in Victoria, siring two multiple Group winners in his first two crops, Fontein Ruby and Fontiton. He continues to produce quality city class runners such as the stakes placed Lyruba, Fontein Lad, Widgee Turf, Dance with Fontein, Finke, and promising Hong Kong galloper Sight Leader, etc.
In 2014, Blue Gum Farm required the services of the highly talented, Group One winner and performer Glass Harmonium whose progeny are now in the stables of leading trainers Mike Moroney, Robbie Griffiths, John McArdle, Symon Wilde, etc.
The terrifically talented Group Three winner & well bred son of sire of sires More Than Ready, War also joined the Blue Gum Farm roster in 2014. His first crop yearlings sold up to $155,000 this year.
It is with great excitement and anticipation that Blue Gum Farm announces the relocation of Encosta De Lago's impeccably credentialed son Manhattan Rain to Victoria for the 2017 season.
As a racehorse Manhattan Rain was a Group One winning 2YO of the AJC Sires Produce Stakes. As a 3YO he ran a slashing second to So You Think in a memorable Group One WS Cox Plate. He also placed in both the Golden Slipper Stakes and Champagne Stakes at two, and the Caulfield Guineas at three. Manhattan Rain retired to stud the winner of $1,311,200 in stakes. He is Encosta De Lago's leading entire prize money earner.
Manhattan Rain has a pedigree second to none. He is by twice Champion Australian Sire Encosta De Lago, who sired 15 of his 26 individual Group One winners from his original base here at Blue Gum Farm. Manhattan Rain is a half-brother to three time Champion Australian Sire Redoute's Choice and closely related to another grand old Blue Gum Farm stallion in Umatilla (NZ), who sired six individual Group One winners and the winners of over $38,000,000 in stakes from his Victorian base. Other close relations include Al Maher and Hurricane Sky who have both sired Group One winners at stud. There are big stallion pedigrees, and then there is this stallion pedigree. They just don't come any bigger!
But the best thing about Manhattan Rain is the job he is already doing himself as a stallion. With just four crops of racing age he has already sired numerous individual Group and/or Stakes winners including this season's Champion two year old elect and Group One Golden Slipper Stakes winner SHE WILL REIGN, last season's Group Two winning 2YO SCARLET RAIN, who is back with a bang this season as a three year old, and 4YO WHISKY BARON who recently became his sire's first Group One winner when taking out South Africa's most prestigious race, the Kenilworth Sun Met. Manhattan Rain has already sired the winners of over $10,700,000 in stakes and that figure is growing rapidly.
Manhattan Rain’s 2016 yearlings (current 2yo’s) were purchased by leading trainers David Hayes, Gai Waterhouse, Ciaron Maher, Darren Weir, Tony McEvoy, Matthew Ellerton, etc.
These young gun stallions all give Blue Gum Farm an undeniable chance of improving on its already enviable record of “making stallions”.