In The Beginning
The Little Avondale of today claims a proud history from the past, with the third generation of Williams carrying the thoroughbred legacy forward.
Over three decades from 1940, the famed Te Parae property of Alister and Nancy Williams provided the impetus for the modern operation. Watch BRED TO WIN for a bit of real thoroughbred history and to see Buzz Williams and father Alister a year or two ago.
Even before Mr and Mrs Williams senior married in 1939, the former Nancy Teschemaker had set the ground rules: without her horses and dogs, she would not be leaving the South Island.
Having gained approval, the young bride arrived on the 1200 acre Williams sheep and beef farm east of Masterton. And with just two mares, one a gift and the other bought for five pounds, she set about creating a dream.
Nancy Williams possessed a superb eye for stock and, in tandem with her husband's ability to read and assess a pedigree, the pair made a lasting impact on the New Zealand thoroughbred scene.
The English mare Sunbride, foaled in 1942 and purchased for 1250 guineas, and the all-time champion stallion Oncidium were their greatest coups.
Nancy Williams saw Sunbride's head poking over a box at Trentham after the mare arrived by ship and purchased her by tender, against advice. But as Alister Williams, a co-founder of the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders Assn, went on to tell the racing journalist Stan McEwen, she had the last word.
"Sunbride had four filly foals to start with, none of whom had shown any distinction on the racecourse, and at the time was in foal to Faux Tirage.
"I said to my wife, this mare Sunbride has not been much good. I think you should sell her.
"My wife replied: I refuse to entertain any thought of selling Sunbride. When I go broke and I am evicted from Te Parae, Sunbride and I will walk down the road together.
"The foal Sunbride was carrying was the 1957 Melbourne Cup winner Straight Draw and it is to my wife's everlasting credit that she never once said to me 'I told you so.'
" As Sunbride provided the female line to follow, Alister and Nancy's first stallion was the prepotent Sabaean , imported from the UK in 1947, followed by the hugely successful duo of Agricola and Oncidium.
Oncidium was a peerless stallion. With six crops racing at the time of his tragically premature death, he won the Dewer three times topping the Australian and New Zealand Prizemoney Won Combined and produced a legendary roll of honour including Leilani (Caulfield Cup), Taras Bulba (AJC Derby), Dayana (VRC Derby), Gold Brick (AJC Derby), Young Ida (NZ Oaks), Sandarae (VRC Oaks), Grand Cidium (Caulfield Guineas) and Oncidon (Metropolitan Handicap).
Clearly, the Williams' sons Tom and Richard (Buzz) had the opportunity to learn from the best.
"The greatest lesson from my mother was her attention to detail: she was meticulous about everything to do with the horses," says Buzz Williams. "The combination with Dad was unbeatable. The international experts said it couldn't be done but Nancy Williams did it: she produced the perfect yearling.
"Their philosophy was buy the best, breed to the best and hope for the best. It paid off."
Buzz & Susie
Although the family ties would never be broken, twenty years ago a decision was made to separate the business units. Buzz, Susie, Sam, Anna and George moved with the bulk of the horses to the property nearer town, Little Avondale, where the breeding operation has flourished.
"I suppose what I take the most satisfaction from is that everyone has got involved including the kids and that's where I've had the biggest thrill: passing on the enthusiasm Mum and Dad gave me. I've been incredibly lucky" Buzz.
Initially, the Little Avondale partnership held shares in just two stallions - the mighty Zabeel and Gary Chittick's Centaine. With their original female lines still intact, taking the stud onwards and upwards was a challenge Buzz and family have tackled with relish.
Little Avondale's first stallion was Carolingian, succeeded in 1999 by Towkay, the son of Last Tycoon and Princess Tracy. Zed joined the LA team in 2007. He is from the pre-potent Eight Caret family and by New Zealand's champion sire Zabeel and out of a multiple Group 1 winning Danehill mare in Emerald Dream. Now based with Mark Corcoran at Grangewilliam, just north of Whanganui, Zed has established himself as one of NZ's foremost staying stallions with the likes of Group 1 winner Survived and Group 3 winners Jimmy Mac, Irish Flame, Usainity and Jacksstar.
Per Incanto, with the famous Street Cry bloodline, has started his stallion career brilliantly. Leading First Season Sire at the 2014 Sydney Classic Sale, he backed up his sale ring popularity taking first season sire honours in the 2014/15 season and finishing runner-up on the Two-Year-Old Sires Premiership. Per Incanto annexed the Champion New Zealand Three-Year-Old Sire by winners and Champion Second Season Sire by winners titles in 2015/16, defeating Savabeel for the former award.
Nadeem, the first Group 1 winning son of Redoutes Choice to stand in NZ is an Internationally PROVEN sire with the Meyden Dubai Golden Shaheen G1 winner Sterling City strutting his stuff at the 2014 Dubai World Cup meet. Other quality stakeswinners sired by the exceptionally bred Nadeem include G2 winners Mujaarib, Happy Galaxy and Tajmeel, G3 winners Sharnee Rose, Triple Asst, Crucial and Listed winners Sir Nate, Specter and Speedy Leo. He's quickly made his mark with his first NZ crops which already include unbeaten stakeswinning two-year-old Sir Nate, the stakesplaced three-year-old Redeem The Dream and the exciting unbeaten Melbourne sprinter Princeton Spirit. Nadeem now has 20 individual stakes performers and 14 stakes winners, an excellent winner to runners ratio of 67% and a defining stakeswinners to runners ratio of 5.3%. He's excellent value at his 2018 service fee of $6,500 plus GST.
A real sense of stockmanship and a love of the animal. When our mares arrive back from LA, they look like they’ve had a month at Club Med, with some of the trimmings of the buffet, but also the glow of having had the attention of a personal trainer