Top horse Tavistock sold for $3.2 million
By MATT CALMAN - The Dominion Post
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Tommy's Real Estate owners have just clinched a $3.25 million sale – but this time it's for a horse, not a house.
The colt they and a group of close Wellington mates bought three years ago for $85,000 is about to begin a new life as a stallion, for a service fee of $12,500 plus GST, when the breeding season starts in September.
Tavistock has been bought by Cambridge Stud owner Sir Patrick Hogan, who said that what caught his eye about the horse was his fine English look and turn of foot in races. "We couldn't be more pleased. I think he's a very quality horse."
Tommy's director Tommy Heptinstall went to the National Yearling Sales at Karaka in 2007 with a budget of $100,000 to buy three racehorses for himself and a band of mates, with guidance from horse trainer and long-time friend Andrew Campbell.
A fourth horse, which he would name Tavistock, caught their eye and was priced to sell for $150,000. He bought it for $85,000 from English owner Lady Henrietta Tavistock.
What followed was an "unbelievable roller-coaster of exhilarating, fantastic fun" – six wins in 18 starts with four placings – and more than $530,000 in prizemoney.
The other members of the syndicate were David Allison, brothers Chris and Johnny Barnao, Bruce Honeybone, Tom Pivac and Tommy's co-director David Platt.
For Mr Platt it was his first foray into horse racing. "He's done the impossible," Mr Heptinstall said. "Some people race horses their whole life and never get a winner.
"He's done something people dream their whole lives about."
Mr Platt said he was happy Mr Heptinstall talked him into entering the syndicate. "Having never been involved, I didn't realise the buzz you get out of watching a horse race."
Mr Heptinstall turned down several offers to buy Tavistock, including two for more than $1m and one for $2m. "Everyone said I was mad," he said. "We were getting that much fun out of racing him. We all probably realised that we might never be in this position again."
Then the call came from Sir Patrick, which he says was like a cricketer getting a phone call from Sir Donald Bradman. "I never even dreamed that one day our paths would cross."
Mr Campbell had a "tear in his eye" when Tavistock left for Cambridge Stud, after his final race in Australia last month, Mr Heptinstall said.
The syndicate has retained five out of the 48 shares in the horse.