Brad the Breeder switches stables
by Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk
In a fresh initiative to try and bolster breeding numbers, Brad Reid has made the move to Harness Racing New Zealand, after six years at the NZ Standardbred Breeders Association.
Reid, who has just started as the newly-created Breeding Manager at HRNZ, earned the nickname “Brad the Breeder” because of his long association with the SBA and also because in 2016 he bred outstanding trotter Bolt For Brilliance. The 33-year-old is also set to become a dad for the first time in November.
“I’m loving the idea of really pushing the breeding side of things at HRNZ,” says Reid, “it’s one of the core pillars of our sport.”
In real terms Reid’s move is not a big one. As Executive Manager at the NZSBA he worked out of the same building that is HRNZ’s headquarters, in Christchurch.
“It was Gary Woodham who suggested that I be part of HRNZ, he’s obviously keen to push the breeding as much as possible.”
Woodham took over as HRNZ Chief Executive in January this year. He is a long-time breeder and owner of horses.
“I just thought Brad could give us a fresh take. It’s such a vital part of the industry and in recent years anyway I think we haven’t given breeding the attention it needs. And it made sense to bring Brad in, if you like.”
But it’s a complex area.
“The elephant in the room is foal numbers,” says Reid, “and my appointment is not a silver bullet or anything but giving breeding a central focus within Harness Racing New Zealand and a direct line of communication to senior management has to be a positive.”
It’s no secret that foal numbers are currently the lowest they’ve been since 1965.
“Breeding incentives and initiatives are part of the role,” says Reid, “but there’s not endless amounts of money, we have to do things that are achievable, and sustainable.”
“I am fully committed to the cause and incredibly passionate about the breeding sector and its many participants.”
“The thing we have to push is that we have the best climate, and we have access to the best bloodlines in the world for breeding horses and have a proven ability of producing champions on a global stage …... we have got to be excited about that.”
Reid ventured into the world of horse breeding at the age of just 27. He’d been around racing most of his life, with one of his fondest memories being a $1 each way bet he placed on Kotare Atom at Motukarara in 2006.
Trained by Doug Gale and Wendy Williams and driven by John Dunn, who was a junior driver at the time, Kotare Atom was 14/14 in the betting and won by three quarters of a length paying $104. Reid’s $2 investment was worth $131.45.
He was later involved with syndicates that raced the likes of Father Christmas and Cuddly Jess but decided he’d like to breed a trotter himself.
He went with unfashionable broodmare Toomuch To Do – “great motor but lacked high speed” – who was available for free. She was served by Muscle Hill, who’s now recognised as the world’s greatest trotting sire.
Back then the stud fee was around $12,000, compared to around $40,000 now.
“At the time I hadn’t even spent ten grand on a car, let alone 12 grand on some semen!” says Reid.
But his hunch paid off, the result was now dual Harness Jewels winner Bolt For Brilliance, who he sold as a yearling. The horse has gone on to win 12 times from 25 starts, under the guidance of champion trainer/driver Tony Herlihy.
“It’s been a massive thrill watching him. I was not in a position to be able to race the horse but this has been the next best thing.”
And it’s that thrill of horse breeding and ownership Reid wants to share with others. His goals are to get existing breeders to extend their portfolios but also get new people into the game.
The NZSBA will continue, with Reid helping out on selected projects, until it decides on its structure. They have an executive of six volunteers.
“The Breeders Association have a vital role to play in our sport as an independent advocacy arm and kindred body. They have close to 600 passionate members and I am excited to work with them as ultimately we have a shared goal and vision of increasing breeding numbers for a sustainable future in harness racing here in New Zealand.
Reid also has an American Ideal colt that’s going to the sales in February out of Group One-winning mare, Classical.
With his new job, and a baby only months away, Reid is gearing up for some big changes, both at work and at home.