Wairarapa nursery Little Avondale Stud has added another major milestone to its rich history, celebrating 80 years of operation. Founded as Te Parae Stud and passed down through three generations of the Williams family, New Zealand’s oldest family-owned stud has amassed a proud list of accomplishments.
There have been famous names such as Sunbride and Oncidium, and in 1974 they were the very first in Australasia to crack the $100,000 mark for a yearling. “This anniversary is a pretty special time for us, and it’s an occasion that we’re all very proud of,” Sam Williams said. “We had a few locals around for a little get-together this week, including some long-time supporters of the farm and the family. We also had all of the members of the family who were around. We all toasted the occasion together, shared some stories and reminisced. It was really cool.
“We’ve just been really lucky to be able to continue the legacy that was laid down before us by our grandparents. There’s a lot of history here. “We’re only caretakers of this land, and we love having the opportunity to work with horses. They’re amazing animals that have given so much to so many people, and it’s a privilege to care for them for a living.”
Recent weeks have delivered some anniversary gifts for the Little Avondale team, with star stallion Per Incanto achieving a strong run of results on the racetrack and in the sale ring. “He had a run of six winners in six days, with three of them in Australia,” Williams said. “Then there was a gelding out of Fleur de Lune that sold for HK$6 million in Hong Kong, and this week his Group 1 Railway Stakes (1200m) winner Santa Monica fetched $600,000 at the Broodmare Sale on the Gold Coast.
“I think Per Incanto is at a bit of a turning point in his career. He’s just starting to get the better-bred horses coming through now. “I had an email recently from Troy Corstens, who trains the two-year-old filly Icantoo. She’s won her only start, and she’s just had an enormous trial and is going to run first-up in the Group 3 Quezette Stakes (1100m) on August 15. “Bjorn Baker is tickled pick with his filly called Belluci Babe, while Jamie Richards has Miss Aotearoa for Tony Rider’s Milan Park – she won a trial this week as well and is shaping up as a real Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) prospect.
“I think the future is very bright for Per Incanto. He’s got 69% runners to winners in Australia, and 65% in Asia. What he’s done so far is a real testament to the horse. He’s shown that he throws a lot of ability into those second-tier mares. It’s very exciting.”
Williams is also looking forward to welcoming back his young gun shuttle stallion Time Test, whose oldest progeny will be yearlings in the 2020-21 season. “He’s in Melbourne at the moment and about to arrive back here at the farm,” he said. “We’re actually not far off closing his book, which I think is incredible in the current climate. He’s limited to 130 mares.
“People are really taking note of the horse – what he did as a racehorse, and the type of animal that he is. “He’s by Dubawi, who is the sire of the top-rated horse in the world at the moment, Ghaiyyath, who has won the Group 1 Coronation Cup (2400m) and Eclipse Stakes (2000m) this year.
“Time Test’s weanlings are outstanding, and people have been really impressed as we head into his first yearling season. “Covid-19 is trying to interfere and bugger things up for us, but that’s out of our control. What will be will be. But Time Test is definitely giving us a lot of reasons to be very excited heading into the new season.”