Kia-Ora Stud Dispersal 1961

Kia-Ora Stud Dispersal 1961

Featured Image: Front Cover Dispersal Sale Catalogue of Kia-Ora Stud, Scone 1961

This sale must have sent shudders throughout the thoroughbred breeding community in not only the Hunter Valley but also NSW and Australia.

For most of the 20th century Kia Ora had been among the big league of major studs throughout the nation and even beyond. Under the expert tutelage and exquisite stewardship of Percy Miller and Bert Riddle the stud farm had scaled the heights. I have written about this elsewhere. I have included this virtual ‘hagiography’ below.

The dispersal conducted by William Inglis & Son Pty Ltd on site, Monday 15th May 1961 kicked off with the sale of the four (4) resident stallions. ‘Rhythmic Light’ (Imp.) had only just commenced stud duties in 1960. ‘Double Bore’s’ (Imp.) oldest progeny were three-year-olds and included good winners Royal Bore, Boran, Flutter On and Full Throttle. ‘Judicate’ (Imp. by Hyperion) was a proven sire represented by Woolsack, Rimyll, Justice, Jovial John, Decade, Diplomatic, Sweet Karen, Committed, Prince Judicate, Princecare and Appeal Court. Undoubtedly the ‘prize lot’ was the untried juvenile sire Epistle (imp.) who was by speed sire ‘Palestine’. Astute judge Max Woods of Morvada Stud, Inverell secured the young entire for £4,500:00. This proved to be an absolute bargain with Epistle going on to be leading sire of individual winners in Australia 1974-75.

The remainder of the sale included 41 mares with foals at foot, 20 dry mares and 7 yearlings. One weanling was sold making a grand total of 74 lots. The sires of the dams recalled the glory days of the stud. Well represented were mares by noted sires Midsteam, Delville Wood, Le Grand Duc (Fr.) and Channel Swell. Kia Ora remained in limbo for a few years before being acquired by George Ryder et al in 1971. John Clift then assumed control until the most recent iteration of the stud farm in off-shore interests.

Kia Ora Stud

Until the recent ascendency of ‘Arrowfield’ under the astute stewardship of John Messara the stud in the area to produce the majority of champion stallions in the area was Kia Ora Stud in the Segenhoe Valley near Aberdeen. During the 20th century Kia Ora stood no fewer than three champion stallions who between them won 10 championships: 10% of the national total during the 100 years. ‘Magpie’ won twice in 1928 and 1931; ‘Midstream’ three times in 1948, 1951 and 1952; ‘Delville Wood’ five successive titles 1953 – 1957 inclusive. Only Widden Stud exceeds this record throughout the 20th century.

Percy Miller was a successful businessman and a hobby breeder with half a dozen mares. In 1914 he embarked on commercial thoroughbred production and purchased the cattle property Kia-Ora, over the Pages River from the established Segenhoe Stud, just east of Scone. With manager Bert Riddle, Miller set about developing Kia-Ora as a fully operational horse stud and by 1917 was able to offer two yearlings at the Sydney Easter Sales. It was to be the start of a sustained and most remarkable breeding record. In the same year a horse called Magpie ran second in the English 2000 Guineas and eventually came to Australia where he was acquired as a stallion by Percy Miller. Over the next decade Magpie became one of Australia’s leading sires producing many feature race winners at Kia-Ora including Windbag, Amounis and Talking. This became the pattern with a succession of successful sires standing at Kia-Ora. Most notable of these were Midstream and Delville Wood who also became premiership winning sires and were responsible for such champions as Shannon, Delta, Hydrogen and Evening Peal.

They were to leave a legacy in a superb brand of brood mares but most remarkable about the record of Kia-Ora was the high percentage of winners that came off the property and the huge numbers, for the times, of well-grown yearlings that were sold off the stud. This peaked with 105 yearlings offered at the 1941 Sydney Easter Sales, while there were 103 catalogued in 1928 and 99 in both 1931 and 1936 for a total of 2,862 yearlings presented for sale between 1917 and 1949. Bert Riddle was the manager through all these years but on his death in 1952, four years after Percy Miller, the stud was scaled back by the family and finally dispersed in 1957. Kia-Ora had a series of owners from then on and amongst the stallions that stood at the farm were Australian champions Gunsynd and Baguette. Despite the numbers of horses bred at Kia-Ora being far less than before the winners kept coming, including top two year old Gretel and Caulfield Guineas victor Sou’wester.

The present owners took over Kia-Ora in 2000 and have re-developed the famous stud farm returning it to its former glory and once again making it home to some of the best bred mares in Australia.