As we approach the halfway mark of the foaling season, James Tzaferis of Racing.com caught up with our Stud Manager, Ben Gunn.
The days and nights are passing quickly at Yulong Stud this spring.
Stud Manager Ben Gunn and his team are about halfway through a massive foaling season, during which almost 400 mares are due to give birth at the operation’s expansive Mangalore property.
Star mares Away Game, Hungry Heart and Berimbau have already dropped foals, while attention will turn to others like Tofane in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, the stud’s seven pin-up stallions are busy at work, serving hundreds of other mares, including recent purchases Forbidden Love, Snapdancer and Another Award.
Idle minutes are rare, but Gunn said he is enjoying the challenge.
“We’ve got about 650 mares in total here and there were about 385 to foal this season,” Gunn said.
“We have four or five night-watch people on every night that are specifically there to watch the mares during the evening.
“We have a foaling unit manager that then has about five or six day staff with her as well to look after the day foalings.
“On an average night, we’re foaling about five a night or around 30 to 40 a week.
“We’re coming up to halfway, which is good, it’s always nice when you hit the peak and you’re going back in the other direction.
“The numbers we’ve already foaled this spring are two or three times what most other farms will do.”
Gunn said every mare is treated the same on the farm, regardless of their price tag.
And while he is loathe to play favourites, he said the vibe at the farm after Hungry Heart delivered a colt by resident stallion Written Tycoon was pretty special.
“If you said to me do I look after them better because they’re such good horses, that means I’m not looking after the other horses properly,” he said.
“The fact that they’re valuable shouldn’t mean anything.
“I think Hungry Heart was one that everyone, myself included, was pretty excited about.
“Obviously she was a mare that Mr Zhang raced, she’s by Frankel, it was her first foal and it was by Written Tycoon – there are so many bits that fit the Yulong story in there.
“Maidens don’t always take to the foals straight away and sometimes the first foal isn’t a standout but with her, she’s a great mum and it’s a lovely foal, which was a positive for everyone.”
Yulong’s Yuesheng Zhang hasn’t messed around in his quest to establish the stud as a heavyweight in the Australian industry, spending $80 million on bloodstock purchases at Australian auctions in 2023 alone.
His investment in property, staff and stallions is also significant and on sheer numbers, Yulong already dwarves almost every other major stud around the country.
But Gunn said that Zhang isn’t just the money man and his passion for his horses and his property is clear to anyone that works at the farm.
“He’s here and he’s on the farm all the time,” he said.
“He’s out running cattle, he’s looking at foals, he’s out in paddocks looking at the horses.
“He’s more involved than most people would probably imagine.
“Personally, I quite enjoy the idea that we might be part of something very special here.
“Mr Zhang is aiming at the very top and he’s throwing all the resources at it for us to do.
“For us as a team, it’s our responsibility to make that dream come true and with that, there’s a bit of pressure but it’s also quite exciting.”
This article was written by James Tzaferis for Racing.com