THE ORIGINS OF BLUE GUM FARM
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 he has produced 212 winners worldwide and has progeny earnings of over Aus$11,000,000. His current tally of individual stakes winners stands at nine. In the 2012-13 racing season Elvstroem is firmly entrenched amongst Australia’s leading sires by winners and wins and already has progeny earnings through $3,000,000.
In more recent years the extremely tough and genuine multiple Group One winning sprinter Turffontein and the beautifully bred and highly talented Red Arrow, have been added to the stallion roster.
World Champion Miler Canford Cliffs completed his first journey to Australia in August 2012 and is an extremely exciting addition to Blue Gum Farm's stallion roster. The five time Group One winner travelled brilliantly, is in wonderful shape and has kickd off his first southern hemisphere breeding season with great professionalism and fantastic fertility.
Canford Cliffs covered some of the best mares in Europe in 2012 from his Coolmore Ireland base. He handled the workload with great professionalism and achieved a wonderful fertility rate over those mares. Hardly surprising when one considers the way he handled himself on the racetrack. As a two, three and four year old, Canford Cliffs competed against the very best and compiled the wonderful record of seven wins and four placings from his eleven lifetime starts. His run of five Group One wins in a row, starting with the Irish 2000 Guineas and culminating with his demolition of super mare Goldikova in the Queen Anne Stakes, were obvious highlights. Another was his amazing success at Ascot's famous Royal meeting where he effectively won his age group championship as a two, three and four year old. Quite simply an amazing racehorse!
Complimenting Canford Cliff's marvelous race record are his stunning good looks.
These young gun stallions all give Blue Gum Farm an undeniable chance of improving on its already enviable record of “making stallions”.