Bellerive Stud Dispersal 2000
For much of the second half of the 20th century the partnership at Woodlands Stud, Denman was one of the most prolific winner producing cartels ever in the thoroughbred breeding world; Australia and elsewhere. The principals in control were G E Ryder, Dr Tom Street, David Crystal Senior and David Crystal Junior. They had formed a most advantageous synergistic association with then emerging young Randwick trainer T J Smith. It helped that George Moore was No I rider for the stable. Tom Street was on the AJC Committee while George was a real force on the STC.
Eventually the generative collaboration was dispersed and the individual protagonists went their separate ways. George Ryder relocated to Kia Ora stud near Aberdeen in 1971 and set about ringing more changes throughout the thoroughbred world. He was ever the entrepreneur. David Crystal was different. He liked the good things in life and had earned them. He drove a Rolls Royce and enjoyed French Champagne. He was as cautious and reserved as George was overtly ebullient.
David Crystal picked out his own choice ‘piece of dirt’ and purchased a block from Harry Hayes (Junior); much to the chagrin of Harry Hayes (Senior) who didn’t know about the sale! It was part of Leighton Park at the eastern tip of the renowned Segenhoe Valley near Scone. Now most of it is consumed by ‘voracious’ Arrowfield Stud. David named his Shangri La ‘Bellerive’ and set about ‘doing his own thing’. It all went well to begin with; then ‘the wheels started to fall off’. Nothing is ever static in the thoroughbred breeding game. David was let down by some overseas associates and the retail clothing sector had also shifted dramatically. Family owned ‘Crystal Clothing’ was the underpinning corporate backbone of the enterprise. Bad luck with an initial ‘viral abortion storm’ was a hefty blow; possibly linked to generously hosting some pregnant mares for a dubious ‘reluctant-to-pay’ foreign client? We will never know.
In 1996 David paid $355,000 for ‘Open Question (USA)’, Lot 44 in the Newhaven Park Dispersal Sale at Newmarket. She was in foal to a September service by leading sire ‘Marauding (NZ)’ and was the dam of prolific multiple Group I winner ‘Arborea’ by Imperial Prince. It’s always a risk but this looked like a very sound investment; at the time!
Only four short years later the decision was made to disperse the bloodstock and close the enterprise. It must have hurt badly but personal health was also a problem. In all 43 mares, 12 yearlings, 5 weanlings and 6 race fillies were catalogued. Trainer Jack Denham, possibly acting as agent, was a prolific buyer with Lot 60 ‘Eliza Cove’ $425,000 and Lot 56 ‘St Kate’ $600,000 knocked down to his account. Both were young mares by super sire Danehill. Jack was also the successful bidder for Lot 48, a Chestnut Filly by Barathea(Ire) ex St Klaire at $550,000. Strawberry Hill Stud (John Singleton) paid top price of $1 million for a Bay Filly (Lot 49) by Danehill ex Startling Lass’. Countess Christie (Lot 19) was knocked down to S Perrin for a cool $825,000. Other notable buyers were Adam Sangster and Gerry Harvey. The 43 broodmares on offer aggregated $5.7 million. It was an inflationary upward spiral in the industry with Danehill having recently emerged as the ‘super sire’ and significant foreign investment fuelling the resurgence. ‘Shuttle Sires’ were really beginning to make an impact. I mentioned earlier a new era? The nascence of the 21st century will also be recorded for posterity as such.