As its 2002 southern roster is about to assemble, Darley has confirmed the purchase of Kelvinside Stud in the Hunter Valley as the base for its Australian breeding base from 2003.
Kelvinside was established almost 30 years ago by former jockey Hilton Cope, the 540 hectares facing the Hunter River at the southern end of the Segenhoe Valley. The Hunter region is the commercial heartland of Australian throughbred breeding.
When the Sheikh Mohammed led Darley set up its own southern operation two years ago, it leased the Collingrove Stud from the Sangster family's Swettenham outfit. The Hunter branch of Collingrove at Sandy Hollow differs from the main one at Nagambie in Victoria, the latter a joint venture of the Sangsters and the family of the late Colin Hayes.
For several years prior to trading in Australia as an entity, Darley leased individual stallions to farms in Australia and New Zealand, including Carnegie from 1997. Others include Jade Robbery, Medaaly and the still commuting Agnes World, Cape Cross, Lion Cavern and Saratoga Springs.
Singspiel didn't return and the subsequent late withdrawal of King's Best through injury left Darley with four stallions this spring. They're headed by freshman Fantastic Light, already booked out before at season cost of $35,000 -- plus the 10% Australian government's Goods and Services tax (GST). Also full is Carnegie at $60,000. He transfers from Trelawney in New Zealand's Waikato. Seeking the Gold son Lujain ($10,000) is another freshman, the roster rounded out Xaar, the swift Zafonic horse who debuted at Arrowfield in 2000.
Accompanied by Cape Cross and newcomer Bertolini, in transit to New Zealand's Cambridge and Rich Hill Studs, Fantastic Light, Lujain and Xaar have been at the Australian Quarantine station at Eastern Creek, west of Sydney, since Aug. 6. The will move onto their respective homes on Aug. 27. Carnegie is in quarantine outside Melbourne after a direct flight from Japan, his northern base at Shadai.
Darley's Australian operation will almost certainly expand next year under Oliver Tait. The former Kelvinside will become a shuttle stallion station with an increased roster as Darley positions itself as more of a southern rival of Coolmore and Vinery.