Morvada Stud Dispersal Sale 1982
This sale marked the passing of one era and the emergence of another. For much of the 20th century the volume of thoroughbred breeders were the genuine farmers for whom it was a passionate interest, a hobby or another commercial ‘string to the pastoral bow’. Many succeeded. Max Woods of ‘Morvada’ was one of these we now refer to as the ‘old breed’.
Max was most astute. His selection and acquisition of the untried imported ‘Palestine’ stallion ‘Epistle’ for £4500:00 from the Kia Ora dispersal (1961) must rank as one of the great coups in thoroughbred breeding history in NSW. It was a bold bid. ‘Epistle’ went on to become the leading sire of individual winners in Australia 1974 – 1975 with total winnings of $1.1 million. This was truly sterling stuff. Among Epistle’s tsunami of winners were History, Red Clinker, Red Rider, Who’s Who, Chandos, Income Tax (twice winner of Scone Cup) and Docket. In the 1980 – 1981 season ‘Epistle’ was the leading sire of dams of winners on a winner per runner ratio with 116 runners, 61 winners and $219,812 in prizemoney.
However it appears Max ‘may have seen the writing on the wall’. With the advent of TAB betting and its consequent elevation of prizemoney throughout racing perhaps Max thought this might be a game for bigger players? Costs had also risen. I know that from about this time ‘family farms’ throughout the Hunter Valley and NSW were making way for the much larger commercial interests, sometimes involving syndicates. Widden is the obvious exception. Max’s son Noel was a very switched on young man with a passionate interest in the industry. However it would seem that he too considered he might do better placed elsewhere?
The ‘Morvada Stud’ Dispersal Sale was therefore emblematic of the times; almost writing the epitaph of a certain era of breeding? 69 lots found new owners including resident stallions Sweet Moss (Imp.) and Grey Pegasus (Ire.).