Business Rural North Autumn 2021

12 | RURAL PEOPLE » Hallmark Stud: Mark Baker Backing the racing industry since ‘86 Proudly Suppor t i ng Hal lmark Stud 0800 545 545 868 Coalfields Road, Maramarua • Phone 09 232 5834 Certified Weighbridge WE HALE LTD BULK HAUL AGE L IME & FERT I L I SER SPEC I AL I STS R J Mckenzie Fencing Contractors Over 25 Years Local Experience • Post & Rail • Electric • Conventional • Stock Yards • Orchards • Retaining Walls Phone Richard Mob: 027 457 8089 ∙ A/h: 09 238 7771 M ark Baker, co-owner of Hallmark Stud, says to be successful within the thoroughbred industry you have to be passionate about thoroughbreds and racing, passionate about breed- ing winners and passionate about the horses you breed for clients. “First and foremost I love the thoroughbred. Even with new staff, we stress to them, unless you’re passionate about it you won’t last. It’s a 70 to 80 hour week, that’s what the horse demands and unless you do that you won’t get a result. On a Saturday, you’re always glued to the phone or TV watching races — all those results effect what you do and at the end of the day that’s what you’re passionate about.” Hallmark Stud was founded by Mark’s parents Denny and Lyn Baker back in the ‘70s who estab- lished a strong reputation for breaking, weaning, breeding and sales preparation. By 1989 the business had outgrown the original Hallmark Stud property, and when a property that Denny had originally worked on, Kinross Stud, came up for sale the opportunity was too good to miss. “I was overseas at the time,” says Mark. “Dad called and said do you want to come home if we buy it, which is exactly what I did and we’re still here to this day. It’s a family run business. Dad and I are the directors with my mother Lyn still involved and my wife Vicki doing the office work.” Located in Te Kauwhata, North Waikato, right in the middle between Auckland and Hamilton on SH1, the farm encompasses 260 acres of rolling country, perfect for building muscle and bone — the key to a good thoroughbred horse. Over the years the stud’s focus has evolved. While 100 horses a year were once broken in, that is now the domain of other breakers in the Waikato. Once home to a handful of standing stallions, Mark says Hallmark Stud now tends to take more stallion shares. Love of the thoroughbred fundamental Richard Loader “We currently have one standing stallion on the farm, Super Easy. He’s owned by a syndicate, with Hallmark Stud the majority shareholder. But we have shares in several other stallions. Trading has become a big thing, taking the place of standing stallions. Over the last 15 – 20 years we’ve done a lot of trading, buying a lot of yearlings, re-selling them as two-year-olds and buying a lot of wean- ings, re-selling them as yearlings.” Broodmares have reduced from forty to twenty in recent times with a strong focus on quality. Enjoying success at the Karaka Yearling Sales held January this year Hallmark Stud sold 16 out of the 17 yearlings submitted, averaging $197,000 and topping the sale average of $125,000, despite the absence of overseas buyers. “We went to the sale expecting a 33% dip for various reasons. With Australia being the sale’s biggest market, it was obvious a great rapport has been developed between Kiwi vendors and Australian buyers, with Kiwis also stepping up to the plate.” Reflecting on past successes, Mark points to Katie Lee, a filly bred by Hallmark a few years ago, as a favourite. “She is still the only filly to win both the 1000 and 2000 guineas. Her half-sister, Banchee, was champion two-year-old in the same season. So that was a big year. And couple of years ago we bought a foal and sold him as a yearling. He won the Karaka Million.” “First and foremost I love the thoroughbred. Even with new staff, we stress to them, unless you’re passionate about it you won’t last.” PHOTOS: Foals enjoying the surroundings at Hallmark Stud. A Tivaci ex Sorellina colt with new owner Alex Oliveira and his daughter, which was purchased on behalf of Tartan Meadow Bloodstock for $360,000.