An interview with Tony Williams, new CEO of Aquis Farm.
What excites you most about being back on home soil and your new role at Aquis?
My entire life has revolved around every aspect of the thoroughbred industry. To have over three years of international sales experience and to return home to this amazing opportunity and role
at Aquis is exciting to say the least. Aquis’ 10-year strategic plan, which emphasises quality product and continual growth within the industry establishes the long-term commitment of the organisation, and I’m looking forward to being a major part of that plan.
The world has its eye on Australian racing, the overall health of the industry is undoubtedly revered internationally. There are continual new racing initiatives being developed that have seen a surge
in prizemoney across the board, which is ultimately fantastic for ownership growth which undoubtedly further promotes participation in all areas of the industry.
How would you compare Australian prizemoney to what you have recently experienced overseas?
Prizemoney has grown by over 80% in the last ten years – more than any other racing global jurisdiction – so the opportunities owners have to re-coup their costs offer everyone the chance to be involved.
With prizemoney levels in Australia greater than the UK, Ireland and France combined, you can see why international investment in Australia continues to grow – just look at the number of international players sending horses to contest this year’s Melbourne Cup, The Everest and Golden Eagle – with over 50 races with $1m or more, why wouldn’t they! We then need to ensure that those recipients of the prizemoney re-invest back into the Australian industry.
Aquis offers a range of services, what can we expect from Aquis’ development in the future?
Looking from afar, 2019 has been a busy year for Aquis; establishing a new property in Victoria with foundation sire Lean Mean Machine who has been extremely popular with breeders due to his exceptional fertility, coupled with this, Aquis will be further developing our stallion roster to accommodate our growing client base.
Welfare is always considered and like all responsible farms and breeders we take it very seriously, always looking at better ways to achieve best practice at Aquis.
In 40 years, what will people in the racing industry be nostalgic for?
We are in changing times and must adapt and move with progress and technology. Perhaps 40 years down the track we will be longing for the horse to be on the grounds at a sale and to be able to physically inspect them – to be able to have the wide range of buyers and industry participants at a sale and experience the atmosphere and intensity of first hand bidding.
How would you compare opportunities for young people the industry in Australia and Europe?
Opportunities are a plenty in Australia, with programs aimed at introducing young people to the industry.
On a world front there appears to be fewer young people with a hunger to be in the industry. My observation is that there are fewer people with actual animal experience or stock sense. It takes time, patience and application for them to develop the skills needed to handle valuable, fragile animals and it’s our responsibility to our clients and stock, to develop the right people suited to the right areas of the Aquis business.
Aquis has given me the opportunity to be a part of the most dynamic and progressive business in all areas of the thoroughbred industry. We will work to be the best there is in the industry, where we will further develop the most dynamic and skilled team in their respective fields. We will strive to be the best we can possibly be in the most amazing business in the world – the Thoroughbred industry. As Aquis grows and develops, so will our team grow and develop.
What are some of Aquis’ highlights in the Sale this year?
The strongest draft we’ve ever taken to sale, the 27 yearlings are by a mix of proven champion sires, up and coming young sires, as well as our own first season sires Divine Prophet and Kiss And Make Up.
Champion Sire Snitzel is represented by five in the draft highlighted by Lot 374, the second foal of Heredera, the half-sister to the Gr.2-winning, Gr.1 placed Kabayan from the family of multiple Gr.1 winner Prized Icon, while Lot 598 is a bay colt out of Distorted Humor mare One Funny Honey, the dam of three winners headlined by Gr.2 winner One More Honey and the Listed winner Vega One.
Other key lots include Lot 450, the More Than Ready colt out of the Gr.2 placed Encosta de Lago mare Kyria, a half-sister to Gr.2 Sweet Embrace Stakes winner Always Alison from the Gr.1 family of Benicio, Bint Marscay, Bollinger and Filante.
Lot 595 is a stunning I Am Invincible filly out of the Listed performed Exceed And Excel mare Omniscient and is bred on a cross that has produced six winners from seven runners led by Gr.3 heroine She’s So High and the Gr.2 performer Garibaldi.
Tell us about Aquis’ first season sires represented this year?
Represented by 12 and two in the catalogue, Aquis’ Divine Prophet and Kiss And Make Up have the right credentials for sale ring success.
With his first crop providing breeders with a significant return on investment at the weanling sales earlier in 2019, we’re really looking forward to seeing the stock of Choisir’s Gr.1 Caulfield Guineas winner Divine Prophet sell in January.
I have inspected Divine Prophet foals in the UK and Ireland and am impressed with the physical attributes he’s putting into them in the Northern hemisphere, a lot of strength, natural muscle shape, bone and importantly temperament.
As the only juvenile to defeat Champion 2YO Capitalist, Kiss And Make Up’s success in the Gr.2 Todman Stakes was phenomenal, with the likes of previous winners Exceed And Excel and Written Tycoon, going on to Champion Sire honours.