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FAMILY CRAFTED HISTORY
The 58-year history of Haunui Farm has been crafted by three generations of the Chitty family - an aspect of the operation which is a source of great pride to present day studmaster and Managing Director Mark Chitty.
The stud’s founders in 1955 were Mark’s grandparents Geoff and Peg Chitty, with the foundation broodmares having been acquired from the estate of Peg’s late parents. It was one of these mares, Foxona, whose descendants were to leave an indelible imprint on both Haunui Farm and the Chitty family.
In 1955 Geoff and Peg Chitty saw themselves as primarily sheep and cattle farmers indulging thoroughbreds as a hobby. But 20 years on, at the time of Geoff Chitty’s untimely death in 1975, the broodmare band had mushroomed, stallions were in residence and home-breds had become stars of the racetrack.
Haunui continued its operation at Whitford under Ron’s guidance while at the same time expanding the facilities and his own Bloodstock interests at his Pukekawa property. It was in 1981 that Ron and Carolyn Chitty, decided to move to Whitford and purchased the family property. As part of a full-on commercial approach they increased acreage and facilities and set about long-term planning and investment in high quality bloodstock.
The initial stallion Karayar arrived in 1973 and was followed by Ruling in 1974, both of whom were to prove most successful sires. Ron identified that a successful stallion operation was essential to the on-going development of Haunui Farm.
Part of his innovative planning was entering into a joint venture with the neighbouring Ra Ora Stud and Trelawney Stud, to pool resources and actively support the concept of high quality northern hemisphere stallions shuttling to New Zealand for our breeding season.
The joint venture’s trail-blazers in 1995 were Last Tycoon and Bigstone followed by Housebuster, Groom Dancer, Soviet Star, Almutawakel, Marju and Carnegie.
When Ra Ora was dispersed to make way for commercial development Haunui Farm re-assessed its own future and, after careful assessments of options, chose to relocate from Whitford to Karaka in 2010.
The modern day Haunui Farm has been readily recognised as one of New Zealand’s finest thoroughbred nurseries. It embraces all the hopes and aspirations of the Chitty family, supported by a proven record of high quality animal husbandry, meticulous pasture management, friendly client relations and rewarding sale-ring results.
A WINNING DYNASTY
The buildings that last are the ones built on the soundest foundations. And, in the case of Haunui Farm, the cornerstone of the foundation was an unplaced Foxbridge mare from Sona with the relatively unimaginative name of Foxona.
The last time Ron Chitty took a head count, 36 of her descendents were stakes winners and another 17 stakes placed. In direct line her two standouts were her daughter Rosehill (by Test Case) and her son Hilldale (by Pride of Kildare).
Hilldale won 15 races in New Zealand and America from 1200m to 2000m. But five-time winner Rosehill was in a league all of her own as a broodmare, being the dam of seven winners from nine starters.
Her son Prince Ruling (by Ruling) was a star of his time in Australia, with multiple Group successes among his 11 wins.
Her NZ Oaks winning daughter Rosie’s Girl (by Zamazaan) was the multiple group performing winner of nine races and top filly on the 1974-75 Three-Year-old Free Handicap.
But daughters of daughters and granddaughters of daughters continue to keep the line alive, and a poignant reminder of all things Haunui Farm came with Lot 414 at the 2013 Premier Session of the National Yearling Sales at Karaka.
It was an imposing daughter of Valpolicella, from Riesling by Last Tycoon, from Dopff by Tights, from On the Rise by Crested Wave, which traces back to where?
On the Rise is a daughter of Lavender Hill from Rosehill from Foxona.
What price for history? $425,000 at Karaka on February 2, 2013 for an eighth generation Haunui Farm product.
WINNING EDGE STALLIONS
Over the years Haunui Farm has been recognised for the strength of its stallion roster, with founder Geoff Chitty setting the ball rolling with the first two, Karayar and Ruling.
Unfortunately Geoff died with foals on the ground by Karayar and didn’t see the influence Ruling was to make. He sired NZ Derby winners Kaiser and Ruling Lad from his first 2 crops.
When Ron Chitty took over the reins at Haunui Farm he did so with strong views on criteria for stallion selection and it remains in place for the simple reason of its success. The strong preference is for Group 1 performers, which have been successful at two and have trained on as three-year-olds. The dam should be a top-class performer by a strong broodmare sire but also boasting a sire pedigree.
The first sire selected by Ron was Sea Anchor who produced a colt from his first crop likened to Dulcify, Manikato and even the immortal Tulloch. He was Red Anchor, who a week after winning the Cox Plate as a three-year-old trounced his rivals in the VRC Derby.
He was voted Australia’s Horse of the Year by the various state jurisdictions and was again the unanimous choice at the national racing writer awards. The world’s leading racing personality of the time, Robert Sangster, publicly declared him to be unquestionably world class.
Over the years the progeny of Haunui Farm stallions matching this criteria have excelled on the racetracks of Australasia, South Africa, Asia and beyond. On occasions some have gone that extra yard. Like Last Tycoon whose progeny includes champion racehorse and champion sire O’Reilly, or Tights, who enjoys the reflected glory of his daughter Triassic producing the world-recognised champion So You Think, or Soviet Star who was the sire of the globe-trotting Starcraft.
The tradition continues today with the dual hemisphere exploits of shuttle stallion Iffraaj.
Record-breaking Champion First Season Sire of Europe in 2010, Champion Second Season Sire of New Zealand for 2012-13, including leading New Zealand sire of stakes winning three-year-olds, which included Filly of the Year Fix.
DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE
Keeping things in the family is one of the traditions of Haunui Farm, including veterinary services.
Not only is Mark Chitty (BVSc) studmaster and Managing Director, he is also the resident vet providing a 24-hour service. Before taking up his managerial role in the family business he was with the Auckland Veterinary Centre at Takanini, founded by Dr Charles Roberts and Dr Andrew Grierson in 1985.
An expert in animal reproductive medicine, Charles Roberts began his association with the Chitty family during the formative years of Haunui Farm, but in even earlier days he tended horse’s owned by Mark’s great grandfather Ernest James Schofield and his great grandmother Winifred.
With this long association Charles Roberts is almost a family member himself and was definitely an influence on Mark’s career path.
Though he had a love of thoroughbreds, Ernest Schofield made his mark with mechanical horse power as General Motors’ leading New Zealand dealer based in Newmarket. To help defend New Zealanders from a possible Japanese invasion in the 1940s he designed a tank, weighing 6.75 ton and powered by an 83.5 horsepower Chevrolet engine.
When British and American models hit our shores it never got into production. But full marks for patriotism.
However, his services to thoroughbred racing have been everlasting due to one critical decision, to ignore Foxona’s inability to win a race and have faith in her as a broodmare.
Also a man true to his opinions, Charles Roberts has been rewarded by being honoured as both Thoroughbred Breeder of the Year and Standardbred Breeder of the Year – a feat unlikely to ever be matched. His advice, contribution and support especially in stallion selection and purchase has been invaluable to Haunui Farm’s development.
THE FEMININE TOUCH
The wonderful foundation broodmare Foxona gets general recognition as the matriarch of Haunui Farm. But even her contribution tends to pale when compared with that of four generations of special Haunui ladies of the two-legged variety.
The trail-blazer was Winifred Schofield, wife of high profile General Motors franchise-holder and racing enthusiast Ernest Schofield, from whose estate the couple’s daughter Peg Chitty and husband Geoff acquired the legendary Foxona.
Winifred Schofield made an inauspicious entry into racing in 1946 when her Foxbridge filly named Diamond Lady died before reaching the track. But she had much better luck with her gelding by Autopay named Huntopay, who broke through for his first win at Thames in January, 1947.
Huntopay returned to the same track the following year where he dead-heated for first with Valsan in the first division of the Borough Hack Handicap. He also put together a number of placings, including a second to subsequent Auckland Cup winner Swanee.
More significantly Winifred Schofield’s racing colours were white jacket, with red diamond front and back and, black sleeves – now the famous livery of Haunui Farm.
Winifred’s daughter Peg Chitty inherited her mother’s love of racing and both bred and raced Sir Kinsman, winner of Melbourne’s former famous Duke of Norfolk Stakes. Later, following the death of her husband Geoff, Peg succesfully raced high profile mares Rosie’s Girl and Lavender Hill, both descendants of foundation broodmare Foxona.
Peg continued to live in the Haunui homestead until Ron and Carolyn relocated in 1981. With the considerable development of the Bloodstock facilities at Haunui Ron’s wife Carolyn planned and managed extensive planting and the establishment of the picturesque gardens that Haunui became so well renowned for. Her enthusiasm for gardens and landscaping has been carried on to the new property at Karaka.
The latest of Haunui Farm’s special ladies is Sara Chitty, wife of Managing Director Mark. Although she is a qualified radiographer, now a mother of four, Sara’s hands are full these days without embarking on too many stud chores. During her student days at university she was annually employed through the summer to help with yearling preparation.
Already the signs of future studmasters are emerging from the next generation. Mark and Sara’s son Matthew shows his father’s passion for racing and was a very excited young man when receiving the breeders award from Sir Patrick Hogan after Fix won the Sir Tristram Fillies Classic.