Henry Field

published: 09 Oct 2012 in Personality profiles

A member of the Moses family and steeped in thoroughbred tradition, Henry Field had the best tutors as he set out to learn everything he could about the industry. His passion to acquire knowledge and his dedication have seen Henry’s fledgling Newgate Farm operation make an immediate impact at the highest levels of racing and breeding and it seems this young man has a bright future indeed.

FINDING ways to attract young people to the races, apart from carnival times, is a difficult problem to solve but, in direct contrast, there are plenty of youthful enthusiasts active in the breeding side of the thoroughbred business. Prominent among them is Henry Field, who although not yet 30, already has a wealth of experience with the major players in the industry.

  This has included two years under the Darley banner in Australia and overseas, as a participant of the Flying Start Course, and nearly four years with Coolmore, first at Ashford Stud in Kentucky and then at Jerrys Plains. Furthermore, Henry is a great-grandson of Reg Moses who, along with Stanley Wootton and Alf Ellison, was a partner in breed-shaping stallion Star Kingdom (IRE), who was based at Ellison’s Baramul Stud in the Widden Valley.

  With horse breeding in his blood Henry decided to strike out on his own in 2010. That year he took control of land in the Hunter Valley and established Newgate Farm about eight kilometres from Scone, as a first step in achieving his hopes and dreams. Since then his vision has become a reality through a fusion of talent, tenacity and passion.
  His progress along the fast track began to quicken soon after Newgate became operational when he joined the management of the United States based S.F. Bloodstock, which has built up vast thoroughbred holdings in Australia, Europe and the United States. Less than 12 months after being set up Newgate came under notice at the yearling sales, and that awareness was further heightened at this year’s Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale in Sydney when the farm presented a colt on behalf of the McLure family’s Morning Rise Stud.

  Entering the ring as Lot 94 on April 10, that colt, by Fastnet Rock from the Tale of the Cat mare Catreign, was knocked down to James Bester and Demi O’Byrne for $1m. “He is a lovely colt, a really sharp specimen,” Henry said. “James Bester who has a brilliant record as an agent, has spent a lot of time developing an outstanding breeding program for the McLure family at Morning Rise Stud. I was delighted to see them have that type of success and I was particularly pleased that he was the first $1m yearling we had prepared.”

  During the sale and racing carnival Henry also negotiated to secure Fastnet Rock’s Gr.1-winning son Foxwedge, who is now is standing his first season at Newgate. To those that know him well, including bookmaker Tom Waterhouse who has been a “great mate” since school days and remains a sounding board for ideas, it is no surprise that Henry has made such an impact in such a short time.

  A Sydney boy, Henry had his introduction to the world of the thoroughbred through Reg’s son Tiggy Moses. As a member of one of the most distinguished family’s in the nation’s thoroughbred history, Reg was a long-serving Australian Jockey Club committee member as well as being a prominent owner-breeder. Among the notable performers he raced was the Minor Portion (GB) filly Fairy Walk, who was prepared by Tommy Smith and ridden by George Moore to her 1971 victory in the STC Golden Slipper Stakes. Reg’s brothers Bill and Fred Moses were also leading owners, racing the dual AJC Doncaster Handicap winner Fine and Dandy, as well as having AJC Champagne Stakes winners Wattle (1948) and Time and Tide (1963) carrying their colours.

  “It was my grandfather who really got me interested in breeding and racing,” Henry said. “He had a property at Inverell, which I often visited, and he’d taken over some of the mares that had been owned by his father. Tig also had a trainer’s licence and had a few horses in training. From the time I was nine or 10 I’d be going to the races with him . . . whether it was Randwick or Moree or anywhere else. That was really what got me started as a young kid, and from that time on I knew I wanted to be involved with the horses.”

  While a student at The Kings School at Parramatta, another door opened when Henry began what has been a lasting friendship with Tom Waterhouse, who was a student at Shore. “We were in teams, which played football and tennis against each other. Through that, and with a mutual interest in the horses, we became really good friends.”

  That friendship and the family connection resulted in Henry having the opportunity to begin working at Tulloch Lodge as a 14 year-old. “Tom and I would go to his mother’s stables at the weekends and school holidays. I soon realised what an amazing operator Gai is because she is the type of person who makes things happen. Her energy, work ethic and attention to detail is incredible and I am sure she would have reached the same level of success had she gone into any other profession.

  “During the five years I was there I rode trots and canters, swam the horses, walked them in the mornings, brought them out on a Sunday for the owners . . . and mucked out boxes. Gai also took me around all the yearling sales and I’d go down to the Melbourne Spring Carnival with the team. As always she had a heap of classy horses while I was there.” They included the Danzero filly Danglissa who was raced by Denise Martin’s Star Thoroughbreds, and soon became a favourite of Henry’s.

  His first trip to the Melbourne carnival was in 1999, which coincided with Danglissa’s second in the VATC 1000 Guineas and her third in the VRC Wakeful Stakes. As a fan he was naturally pleased when she went on to capture the AJC Flight Stakes the following autumn. Another stable member he had the utmost respect for was the Zeditave gelding Assertive Lad who was third in the Golden Slipper before continuing on to win the AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes, Champagne Stakes and a Doncaster on his way to earning nearly $3.4m.

  The headliners in the team also featured Ha Ha, a daughter of Danehill who brought up Gai’s first win in the Golden Slipper in 2001 and then went on to take the Flight Stakes at three. The association with the Waterhouse stable was extended for a further 12 months once Henry completed his education at Kings and he left the establishment only when chosen to participate in the inaugural Flying Start Course conducted by Darley.

  Spread over two years, basically broken down into six months in Australia, Dubai, Europe and the United States, the course provided him with the type of experience others can only aspire to. His grand tour began in Europe and was followed by stint in the America, which consisted “mainly” of rotating around the Maktoum family-owned farms. This led to a period in the Darley office in Sydney and at the property at Kelvinside at Aberdeen, which was all evolving under the astute management of Ollie Tait.

  Then came time, “generally making the tea”, with leading trainer Mike de Kock in Dubai when one of the stable stars was the Zabeel horse Grey’s Inn, owned by Mrs Bridget Oppenheimer. The course was completed with another visit to Europe, which included work in the County Tipperary yard of David Watchman, who he describes as a “very astute trainer with a great work ethic”. One of Henry’s assignments for Watchman was to strap Indesatchel when he was beaten a nostril by Godophin’s distinguished Giant’s Causeway horse Shamardal in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains at Longchamp in 2007.

  “Doing the Flying Start Course was absolutely great. It is funded by Sheikh Mohammed, by way I suppose, of giving something back to the horse industry. Those two years really opened up my mind to what could be achieved in the horse industry, and all the possibilities available. It certainly kick-started my career in the business.

  “There is no doubt doing the Flying Start program presented a most privileged opportunity for me and I can recommend it to any young participant in the industry. In my view Sheikh Mohammed and the Darley people should really be commended for putting such a huge investment into the education of people in our industry. Most relevant is that many high class students come out of the course year-in, year-out.”

  On finishing the course, Henry’s Irish connection was continued when he joined the Camas Park operation of Tim Hyde who numbered David Watchman among his trainers. “Timmy pinhooks about 100 weanlings a year for the sales in Europe and North America. There were only four of us on the staff, but there would be no one in the world who prepares yearlings better than he does. He is a freak, and has a massive strike rate for producing good horses which have been sold as yearlings by Camas Park.

  “I spent the best part of a year with Timmy and that was another great experience. I certainly learned a lot about feeding and exercise and developing young horses. Towards the end of my stay with Timmy he took me around all the foal sales in Europe and North America, which was an incredible couple of months. His judgement of a course is quite incredible and it is easy to see how Camas Park sells so many good yearlings each year.”

  From there Henry headed across the Atlantic for a breeding season at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky where Giant’s Causeway was the headline stallion. It was following a phone call from Jerrys Plains that he returned to Australia. Brett Howard, who had been handling Coolmore’s stallion bookings and nominations for the previous five years, decided to leave in October 2006 to conduct his own operation at Quorrobolong just south of Cessnock in the lower Hunter Valley.

  “Basically Michael Kirwan rang me and said ‘get back to Australia’ to take Brett’s place and I did,” Henry said. “Brett is a bloke for whom I have the utmost respect and these days we do plenty of business together. While at Coolmore I worked between the office where I was selling stallion nominations and on the farm with Peter O’Brien, who was a great teacher and runs the operations on the farm with Gai Waterhouse-type efficiency.”

  Also during his period at Coolmore, Basil Keen was injured in a car accident and Henry took over his role as yearling manager. “The Coolmore team was fantastic to me, and it was all great experience. One of the keys to the success of Coolmore and John Magnier, in my opinion, is their relentless hunger for recruiting and looking after top people. I know this might sound obvious, but a business is only as good as its people. That is probably the most valuable lesson I learnt at Coolmore, and needless to say it is a formula we have adopted at Newgate as we have gone about building our own team of top people.”

  It was after the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale in 2010 that Henry decided to set up his own farm on what had been Brian Agnew’s Wakefield Stud at Scone. Renamed Newgate, the property comprised 110ha (270 acres), which has since been boosted to 182ha (450 acres) with the lease of two additional blocks of land.
  “The farm had been rested for eight or 10 years and we’ve put in a lot of work into restoring the place to the level we wanted. Our focus is on having the best facilities, the best quality stock we can and, generally speaking, doing everything at the highest level so we can grow organically. We were on a high after selling the $1m colt last Easter and it was a natural progression for us to secure a horse like Foxwedge when he became available.”

  Newgate’s newly appointed bloodstock manager Tony Williams, who had been following the progress of the colt by Fastnet Rock from Forest Wildcat mare Forest Native (USA) since he was a new born foal, was among those in total support of the move. “I was always travelling around when I was with Magic Millions and I became aware of Foxwedge about a month after he had been foaled at Luskin Park Stud,” Williams said. “Right from his earliest days he was an eye-catcher and I thought he was worth every cent of the $925,000 he made as an Easter yearling.”

  As anticipated by many of the industry’s aficionados, Foxwedge went on to become a racehorse of the highest class. After scoring twice as a two year-old Foxwedge captured the MVRC William Reid Stakes-Gr.1, ATC Roman Consul Stakes-Gr.2 and San Domenico Stakes-Gr.3 at three. He was also second in the VRC Ascot Vale Stakes-Gr.1 and ATC Run to the Rose-Gr.3 and third in the VRC Newmarket Handicap-Gr.1 and ATC Todman Stakes-Gr.1. Added to that he registered fourth placings in the ATC Golden Rose-Gr.1 and VRC Lightning Stakes-Gr.1, all from just 13 outings.

  When the combination of being a son of a champion sire, his racecourse performances, and his physical presence were put together, there was no shortage of parties wanting to become involved in the Foxwedge syndicate. At the forefront of the arrangement were Edmund and Belinda Bateman, who have received a lot of joy racing Foxwedge along with the likes of Satin Shoes, Ashokan, Apercu and Georgette Silk.

  “The Bateman family has been having an incredible ride,” Henry said. “A couple of years ago they had the confidence and judgement to begin using the young bloodstock agent James Harron, who had started at Coolmore at Jerrys Plains at the same time I did. Since James has been purchasing for the Batemans as well as managing their 
bloodstock, the results the family has achieved have been phenomenal.

  “I think from nine yearlings James has purchased for them there have been five individual stakes horses and four Golden Slipper runners. The Batemans and James have also worked very hard to develop an exceptional band of broodmares, and it will be wonderful to get a crop of Foxwedge yearlings out of many of them in the years to come.”
  As well as the Batemans, S.F. Bloodstock also became part of the syndicate, along with a dozen of the leading breeders in Australia and New Zealand. “It is more of a New Zealand-type of stallion model with a core group of outstanding breeders sharing in Foxwedge’s ownership,” Henry said.

  “Once he was syndicated we worked very hard to ensure he was going to have the numbers as well as receiving mares that suited him; and even though it is a vintage year for first season sires I can genuinely say I don’t think there would be a horse in Australasia that is being given a better opportunity to fulfil his potential than Foxwedge. While I am sure it will be a slam dunk for breeders who are fortunate enough to have a booking to him in his first season, I feel that those breeding to him in years two and three will be very well positioned to capitalise on the extraordinary book of mares going to him in year one.” n