Paul Blattman

published: 09 Mar 2015 in Personality profiles

Champions Research and Pierro are just two of the many outstanding horses to begin their education under the guidance of master horseman Paul Blattman who was born to a life in the saddle and whose Whispering Pines property at Oakdale is the finishing school for many of our best thoroughbreds.

DURING his lifetime Paul Blattman has established himself as one of the thoroughbred industry’s elite horsemen. Since beginning his association with racing, riding track work as a 12 year-old schoolboy although his size prevented him becoming a jockey, Paul has long been acknowledged as one of the nation’s best breakers.
  This has enabled him to put together a clientele including such respected names as Clarry Conners, Allan Denham and his late father Jack, Steve Englebrecht, Gooree Stud, Kris Lees and his late father Max, Bobby Pearse and Gai Waterhouse. However on turning 60 last year he felt the time was right to stand down from breaking-in.
  “I’m able to do a little less physical work these days,” says Paul, who with his wife Velvet conducts Whispering Pines Thoroughbreds at Oakdale in Sydney’s outer southwest. “We have a very good staff and I don’t have to do as much as I was doing, although I am always around to give some advice. 
I also do a feed run every morning, with a couple of boys and girls, so I see all the horses on the place.
  “Not doing as much has enabled me to have more time to keep in touch with our owners and trainers to provide them with information on how are their horses are progressing. Velvet does all the administration, which is quite a task these days with horses having six to 10 or sometimes even more owners. It all seems to be working pretty well, so even though I’ve eased back we’ll just keep going the way we have been.”
  The foundation for Paul’s rise to prominence began soon after he was born in 1954 in Penrith, 56km west of Sydney. “My Dad Reg was a horse breaker in the local area,” Paul said. Among the horses he remembers his father breaking-in is Victory Prince, who was prepared by Clarry Conners to win the AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes-Gr.1 (1400m) from Red Anchor and Spirit of Kingston in 1984.
  “Dad broke in a number of other good horses,” he said. “He was mates with the likes of Ray Guy and a lot of other well known trainers. He was a track work rider and a local show rider, even though he was actually a motor mechanic. Dad also had a hobby farm and that’s where he taught me to ride, as the saying goes, ‘before I could walk’.
  “I’ve ridden pretty well all my life at pony club, shows, and I got interested in show jumping. 
Then when I was about 12 and through until I was about 15 Dad would take me to Warwick Farm to ride track work. I rode mainly for Kelly Suttle who was quite a good trainer in his day. After I had finished riding work I’d catch a bus straight to Nepean High School 
at Emu Plains.”
  There was no surprise when Paul divulged that he wanted to pursue a career amongst horses when he finished his formal education. “At the time racing stables weren’t renowned for looking after their stablehands and Dad thought it would be best for me to start at a stud,” Paul said. “Dad was mates with Dick Inglis, through the cattle sales in the local area. Dick said what he should do was send me to Roseneath Stud, because it was at Cobbity and not too far from home for a young bloke.
  “So when I was 16 I started with Bobby Watson at Roseneath Stud, which was only a little place then. When I went there Roseneath was standing three stallions, Corinto, Royal Rocket who had just arrived, and a horse named Sovrango. Six or seven years after I arrived Roseneath was standing 10 stallions including Jumpin’ Joseph, Ovaltine, Tattenham and a number of other good sires. I think I’m right in saying that, at the time, Roseneath was the first stud to have a roster of 10 stallions. We’d foal down 300 foals on the place each season so it was a great learning experience.”
  After beginning his days at Roseneath as a general hand Paul’s application, aptitude and dedication to his job led to him being promoted to stud manager within five years. At the same time Gary Fiddler who was a few years older, was elevated to manager and he and Paul combined to run the property. During that era the National Rugby League’s longest standing player agent Wayne Beavis, whose clients have included Jarryd Hayne, acted as the stud’s administration manager for “six or seven years”.
  “It was an amazing place and Bob Watson was a great entrepreneur,” Paul said. “He was the first person to give away catalogue covers, pens and that sort of thing at the yearling sales. I also think he was the first person, in this country anyway, to set up a hospitality marquee at the sales, which I remember John Inglis being surprised about. Before long other studs began to follow and you see what it has become like today . . . everyone is doing it.”
  While business was booming Gary and Paul were throwing themselves into the task of building up Roseneath’s name and at one stage neither had a full day away from the stud in two years.
Looking back Paul says he gained most satisfaction from boosting the fertility rating of the stallions to above 90%.
  “While I was there Roseneath didn’t breed any champions, but what it did achieve was to breed more winners-to-runners than any other stud in the country. We took a lot of pride in that.”
  However when Bob Watson entered into other ventures and sold the property, Paul decided to move on. It was a momentous decision because he and Velvet, who had been Roseneath’s secretary, had not long been married and she had just become pregnant with their first child Adam. They later had a daughter Laura, and with Paul’s daughter Tenneile the pair have seven grand-children, all boys.
  Another problem with leaving Roseneath was that Paul was breaking-in a couple of horses and needed an alternative site to continue their preparation. “Around the corner was a spelling property owned by Keith and Jan Mackin who were easing out of the business,” he said. “It was named Silver Sharpe Lodge and the Mackins had agisted a lot of Tommy Smith’s horses, including Silver Sharpe and Gunsynd, during his hey-day as a trainer.
  “I spoke to Keith Mackin and he was happy for me to finish breaking-in the horses on his place. 
It went well and I thought I might have a crack at this. Through my Dad’s connections I rang Ray Guy and Clarry Conners to see whether they could help me on my way. They both immediately sent horses to break-in and spell, which helped me kick-off.
  “The first champion I had was from Clarry . . . that was Research. She was a great filly who won the AJC Derby, AJC and VRC Oaks and was chosen as Australian Horse of the Year for the 1988-89 season, so that gave us a flying start. I didn’t do the breaking with Burst, but we did all education and pre-training with her before she won the Golden Slipper in 1992. Before long the six horses I originally had turned into 26 and I approached Keith about leasing the property.
  “When he agreed we soon had 100 horses on the place being broken-in, spelling or being pre-trained. Jack Denham came on board and we broke-in some good horses for him including Filante, Jetball and Marwina, all owned by the Whites. I remember Jack ringing up and asking about Filante, when we were doing him. He wanted to know how Filante was going and I said ‘Gee, he’s a good sort’. With that Jack said, ‘I didn’t ask you that, I want to know how he moves’. 
I said he moves perfectly and Jack then said, ‘that’s all that counts because top horses always move well and they get better looking the more they win’.”
  Appreciating that Gai Waterhouse was poised to follow her father T.J. Smith, to stardom Paul approached her about coming on board. “I chased and chased Gai,” he said. “Eventually Velvet and I had a meeting with her and Rob at a restaurant 
in Paddington. Gai asked why I wanted to be associated with her and I said that she was on her way to being very successful and that I felt she would be around for a long time. I also said I wanted to be part of that success.
  “She said, ‘that is good enough for me and, if you work hard for me I will help you along the way’. 
It started out as having just a few horses but grew from there, and she’s still with me to this day.”
  With the breaking, spelling and pre-training and the operation building up, he and Velvet bought the property at Oakdale that they subsequently developed as Whispering Pines in 1997.
  “After we bought Whispering Pines the position at Shipton Lodge, at Cobbity, became available,” Paul said. “I’d seen the position advertised but hadn’t done anything about it, when Jamie Inglis approached me and said it would suit me. He said I should meet the general manager Steve Post and we got along famously, so I went there after spending 11 years 
at Silver Sharpe Lodge.
  “When I went to Shipton Lodge it was only a spelling facility, but we changed that around to incorporate breaking-in and pre-training as well. 
It was 1000 acres (404ha) on the Nepean River and with the opportunity to get the horses out in big paddocks Gai started sending more out from her stables. That meant from having 10 or 15 we went to having 150 of hers some years.”
  During his stay there Shipton Lodge was the host for stars such as Prowl who won the 1998 Golden Slipper from the Clarry Conners stable, and Frank Cleary’s Catbird who was triumphant the following year. Another topflight visitor was the regally bred Mouawad, whose seven wins from eight starts with Clarry featured the VRC Australian Guineas, STC George Ryder Stakes and MRC Futurity Stakes at the elite level.
  “It all helped turn Shipton Lodge into a money-making proposition,” he said. Paul remained there until 2004 when one of the Singaporeans in the property’s ownership became “very ill” and the decision was taken to sell. With that Paul and Velvet elected to begin developing Whispering Pines, which had been leased out following their purchase 10 years earlier.
  “We’d bought the property to develop into a breaking-in, spelling and pre-training operation and we felt we were well placed to do that.” Paul says he “borrowed everything he could borrow”, and with some assistance from Steve Post he and Velvet were able to begin restructuring Whispering Pines. скрытая манипуляция мужчиной
  “We knocked everything down, flattened everything, built brand new yards, shelter sheds, put in a track, and redid the house. That has opened the way for us to cater for 150 horses at any one time. There is a staff of 10, all good young people who have been with me for quite a while, but we are always busy. 
We have a very good breaker in Mark Johnston, and Felicity Baird who is a really good girl, looks after the pre-training and spelling side of the business.”
  This has resulted in Gai showing her continuing confidence in the operation by sending headline performers such as Dance Hero, Pierro and Fiorente to Whispering Pines. “Right from the time we were breaking-in Pierro we realised he was a lovely horse,” Paul said. “He looked like a big baby that would develop beautifully as he matured.
  “He was a leggy type, a real athlete and a pleasure to deal with. Interestingly he never ever got fat spelling, even though he’d do extremely well in the paddock. We’d wished he would do better but the bottom line is that the reason he stayed sound was that he didn’t ever get too heavy.”
  Another intriguing case study was the 2013 Emirates Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente. When he arrived at Whispering Pines after running second to Green Moon in the 2012 Melbourne Cup, he wasn’t a particularly imposing individual.
  “Gai had him for only a few weeks before the Cup and I thought he must be very special to do what he had done, looking the way he did,” Paul said. “He was going through the climatic change when he was having his first spell and he didn’t look great. Because of that Gai said she would put him back in training, give him a light preparation to keep him ticking over and then get him ready for the Melbourne Cup.
  “At his only start in the autumn he ran a cracking third in the All Aged Stakes at Randwick. He’d improved physically when he came home, and in the six weeks we had him he suddenly changed from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. From there on he didn’t ever take a step backwards and I think he would have been seen as a great horse if Gai had been able to give him another preparation or two.
  “We’ve also had horses such as Samantha Miss for Kris Lees and we’d had horses for his father Max before him,” he said. “Kris, like his father was, is a great bloke. Steve Englebrecht, who is a terrific fellow and 
a terrific trainer, is a strong supporter, so is Bobby Pearse, a Randwick stalwart, and Gooree sends some troublesome ones. Allan Denham has carried on from his father and more recently a couple of young guys, Jason Coyle and David Pfieffer, have been sending horses to us. Also of course, Clarry still sends us horses, so Velvet and I are very pleased with the way everything is going. It’s been a lot of hard work to reach the position we are in, but I am really comfortable with the way the business has developed.” n