If ever you needed convincing that a long history of family experience in horse breeding was necessary for success then a close look at the successful larger studs and their family backgrounds will most certainly convince you.
Fertile soils and a horse friendly climate make the Darling Downs a perfect environment for raising horses of all varieties.
The thoroughbred breeding industry began on the Downs over a hundred years ago and today is a major contributor to the economy with many family owned studs heavily involved in breeding thoroughbred yearlings for the rich Magic Millions auction sales.
Darling Downs studs directly employ about two thousand workers such as stable hands, exercise riders, stud masters, farriers, veterinarians, equine chiropractors and a host of administrative people all required before the thoroughbred goes to the auction sale.
This year’s breeding season has been a successful one for Downs thoroughbred studs despite an abnormally dry winter and spring.
Umbiram’s Oakland Stud is another family run business with many years’ successful operation.
Principal Neville Stewart runs the property with his three sons, Alistair, Hamish and Alex where they stand several stallions including Exosphere, Power and Prince Fawaz.
Oakland Stud had around 100 foals born this year and is currently preparing 28 yearlings for the auctions.
Eureka Stud at Cambooya is one of the district’s oldest and successful breeding establishments.
Founded in 1935 by Andrew McAlpine, Eureka is similar to a number of thoroughbred studs in Queensland as the property has been handed down from one generation to the next – current owner managers being Andrew’s son Colin and grandson Scott who has three sons, Harry, Angus and Charlie.
Over the past 85 years the original ‘square mile of timbered Darling Downs black soil country with no infrastructure and no fencing except along the boundary line’ has expanded to 2000 acres.
Through hard work, the McAlpine family has shaped and pioneered a successful stud from modest beginnings and old-fashioned horsemanship.
This season Eureka Stud has seen the birth of 145 foals over the six month season.
As with other large studs some of these foals are for clients who leave their brood mares at the stud while usually a smaller number are from brood mares owned by the stud itself.
The end of the year is a busy time at all studs as yearlings are prepared for the auction sales.
A small army of workers is required at the larger studs as yearlings are individually exercised, washed, groomed and stabled daily so they are in tip top condition by auction time.
Eureka has 59 yearlings currently being prepared for the Magic Million auctions in January and March next year.
A number of these yearlings will be by their own stallions, Spirit of Boom and Encryption.
As Queensland’s top stallion (service fee $38,000) a Spirit of Boom yearling might demand a six figure price tag at auction but such is the nature of horse auctions it might also fall a lot short of that figure.
Clear Mountain Fairview Stud at Greenmount is another successful family owned business where three generations of Frappells run the breeding property.
Stud Master Mick Frappell said they had 60 foals born this year with about one third of them to their own brood mares.
They are currently preparing 15 yearlings for the March Magic Millions auction.
The Frappells stand four stallions at their stud and Mick is very excited about the future of his young stallion Worthy Cause as one of his progeny, Cause for Concern, has recently won a major Group race which puts Worthy Cause in the top group of young stallions in Queensland.
Another of the Downs famous thoroughbred breeding properties is Lyndhurst Stud near Warwick.
Over its more than one hundred year history Lyndhurst has a reputation of standing top stallions and that remains the case today with its stallion Better Than Ready (service fee $27,500) who constantly demands top prices for his progeny.
This year Lyndhurst had 140 foals born and is currently preparing 48 yearlings for the Magic Millions auctions early next year.
It seems the equine industry on the Darling Downs continues to go from strength to strength and is a major contributor to the local economy providing employment for a variety of trade and service industries.
Generational change will continue to take place on the Downs thoroughbred stud properties as the daughters and sons of current operators bide their time learning the ropes of the horse breeding industry under the watchful eye of parents and grandparents.
This article appeared in On Our Selection News, 21 December 2023.