A Guru Named Steve

Most people identify 1987 for its October stock market crashes around the world and the ensuing global repercussions.

The New Zealand thoroughbred breeding industry was unable to escape those repercussions, but 1987 also left Haunui Farm with a more lasting and indelible imprint. It was the appointment of Steve Brem as its first general-manager and a position he held for 10 years.

As proprietor Ron Chitty explains Haunui had reached a stage where it had become a serious commercial entity and it was time to put some serious commercial management structures in place.

Steve’s path to Haunui’s gates had been anything but orthodox. He had quit university to become a statictician at Best Bets later gravitating to racing writer and then racing editor of Sunday News.

Then, for seven years, he was secretary of the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders Association – interesting, challenging but not particularly financially rewarding. Becoming managing-director of the publicly listed Waikato Stud ticked the final box and offered challenges of even greater magnitude.

After three years, Waikato Stud went into receivership and Steve Brem was suddenly ticking all the boxes for Haunui Farm.

“When Steve came he took over the administration and the other side of the team got on with looking after the horses and the farm,” recalls Ron.

“The structures Steve put in place are the ones that operate today. Only the technology has changed.”

Steve Brem’s unique gift was an encyclopaedic memory, never forgetting the face of a client or the extended pedigrees of their broodmares. Recognition of the importance good public relations, attention to detail and an enthusiastic work ethic all played their part in cementing Haunui Farm’s ultimate position within the industry.

He will always be part of the Haunui story.

When he re-located to Australia it was as racing manager for Sydney’s queen of the turf, Gai Waterhouse. For Steve that was the end of the learning curve and in recent years he has flourished as a self-employed bloodstock consultant of almost guru status.

The final word from Ron Chitty “I still keep in regular contact. Anytime I want to find out what’s happening in Australia I just give him a call. Steve always knows.”

Ron Chitty and Steve Brem at the first Karaka yearling sale