A stud with a rich history, Mapperley Stud has been in the Davison family for three generations. Developed for the sole purpose of breeding and raising young thoroughbreds, Mapperley spans over 600 acres of beautiful rolling Waikato country. Large, undulating paddocks are a prime feature at Mapperley and have proven time and time again to be the key ingredient to the success of many great racehorses who have been born and raised on the farm.
Family owned and operated, Mapperley Stud is managed by Simms and Margaux Davison who share an exciting vision to re-establish Mapperley Stud’s stallion roster and return the Matamata based stud to its former position as one of New Zealand’s leading thoroughbred studs.
Mapperley Stud has a great reputation for raising thoroughbreds, So You Think and Dundeel are prime examples, and now Simms Davison, the third generation of his family at the helm of this operation, is heading in a new direction by standing four high-class young sires at the Matamata property. It’s a challenge the former star rugby player is relishing and he can’t wait to see the results.
Since the turn of the century luminaries such as High Chaparral ’s sons So You Think, a nine-time Gr.1 winner and now Coolmore stallion and the six time Gr.1 winner and Arrowfield sire Dundeel are among those reared on its undulating green pastures. So are the likes AJC Australian Derby-Gr.1 Nom du Jeu, who stood at Fairdale Stud, triple Gr.1 winner Sangster, the gutsy warrior Sir Slick, who won six Gr.1, AuRC Easter Handicap-Gr.1 winner Prince Kaapstad and Singapore Derby-SINGr.1 hero Clint. While this list, and there are many others, is testimony to Mapperley’s proclivity for growing out young horses, Simms has taken the stud back to the days of having a stallion roster.
“When I first took over the farm was all client based and used mainly for rearing young horses, preparing them for the sales and agisting dry mares,” he said. “While we are still very much an agistment farm I’ve been building up my broodmare numbers and I’ve got a nice lot of young mares who are mostly stakes placed or stakes performed. A lot of them only have two or three foals on the ground, so we are still waiting to find out whether they are any good.”
Most notable amongst his holdings so far is the Thunder Gulch (USA) mare Thunderchine, whose foals include Thunder Lady. Trained by John Sargent Thunder Lady won the VRC Wakeful Stakes-Gr.2 and was second in the VRC Crown Oaks-Gr.1 and third in the ATC Storm Queen Stakes-Gr.1.
“I felt the next step for me after building up my broodmare band was to begin standing stallions,” Simms said. This new phase in Mapperley’s history began in 2013 when he secured He’s Remarkable. In 2015 that Group-winning son of Pentire was joined by Gr.1 winner Atlante (AUS) (Fastnet Rock), while this year two further Gr.1 winners, Contributer (IRE) (High Chaparral (IRE)) and Complacent (AUS) (Authorized (IRE)), who raced in the Godolphin blue, were added.
“We are not only standing stallions at Mapperley, we are also buying shares in other stallions. In that way we are supporting other studs and I think that is very important as well.”
Simms is also well aware of the responsibilities he has to the Davison family’s legacy. “It’s been great to come back to such a beautiful, beautiful property like Mapperley, which has produced so many great horses,” he said. “I was very fortunate to be given the unique opportunity to come home, take over the farm and be able to put my own signature on the place.
“My father was quick to remind me that I am the third generation of stud masters at Mapperley. The farm has been handed down from my grand parents to my father and to me and hopefully in the years to come I can do the same.”
John and Doreen Davison founded Mapperley Stud in 1964 on the lush pastures of Matamata in the Waikato region of the north island. With Doreen having been born in England, the Davison’s were regular visitors to the old country and generally returned to New Zealand with a mare of two when running a property on the South Island.
This practice intensified once they moved north and their astute judgment brought success. Among the notable mares they imported were Some Swallow (GB) by My Swallow (GB), Petwood (GB) by Petingo (GB) and Super Show (GB) by Great Nephew (GB).
When mated with Sound Reason (GB), Some Swallow produced Gr.3 winner Some Reason, who in turn was responsible for AuRC New Zealand Derby-Gr.1 winner So Casual, who was by Casual Lies (USA).
To a joining with Low Row (GB) Petwood foaled WATC Railway Stakes-Gr.1 and BATC Rothmans 100,000-Gr.1 winner Getting Closer, while the mating of Star Way (GB) and Super Show resulted in (Our) Waverley Star. A winner of the AJC Chipping Norton Stakes-Gr.1, Waverley Star was involved in one of the most memorable renewals ever in the MVRC Cox Plate-Gr.1 in 1986 when he went down narrowly to Bonecrusher after they singled out from their rivals 700m from home.
As the Davison’s were aging their sons Mark and Kit began running the farm, which then spread over some 526ha (1300 acres). With Mark and Kit being young and enthusiastic, they began standing stallions at Mapperley, beginning with Long Row, who was a Gr. 2 winner at Newbury by Linacre. As the 1970s were moving into the 80s the multiple Gr.1-winning Godavari (IRE) horse Little Brown Jug and the New Zealand Derby and STC Canterbury Guineas-Gr.1 winner Ring The Bell, by Rangong (GB), were added to the roster. Then in 1990 the property was split, with Mark “taking the front portion and Kit taking the back part”.
“A number of other stallions, including Piperhill, Chem and Piazzetta also stood at Mapperley, which led through to Straussbrook, Stylish Century and then Volksraad came here in the 1990s,” Simms said. A winner at Ascot by Green Desert, Volksraad (GB), who began standing in 1994 and died in 2011, sired 640 winners, with 14 of the highly successful sire’s 57 stakes winners scoring at the elite level.
Foremost among them was Sir Slick, from the Paris Opera mare Miss Opera. He was bred by Monovale Farm and was sold for NZ$48,000 from the Mapperley Stud draft at Karaka in 2003. He went on to win NZ$2 million in prize money and was New Zealand Champion Middle Distance Horse of the Year in 2007.
In 2013 Simms secured He’s Remarkable, who is by Pentire from the Zabeel mare Axiom, for stud duties in partnership with Waikato Stud. A Gr.3 winner and three-time Gr.1 placegetter, He’s Remarkable had been victorious in the 2011 WATC Railway Stakes-Gr.1 only to lose the race to Luckygray on protest. It was a decision, which left racing fans completely bewildered.
“I felt He’s Remarkable was a good sire to kick off with,” Simms said. “The horse was obviously very unlucky to be relegated in Australia but he was still highly performed, beautifully bred and very good looking. And his little brother Xtravagant has helped things along by winning two Gr.1 events.”
The first yearlings by He’s Remarkable sold up to NZ$110,000 and are now racing as two year-olds this season. With everything working smoothly with He’s Remarkable, Simms decided to step up the pace in the past two years by adding Atlante, Complacent and Contributer to Mapperley’s roster.
Atlante, whose first foals dropped this year are impressing good judges, is by Fastnet Rock from the More Than Ready (USA) mare Readyforcatherine. A winner of the CJC New Zealand 2000 Guineas-Gr.1, he performed creditably in Australia where he won the MVRC Macleod Stakes-LR and finished second to Dissident in the ATC Hobartville Stakes-Gr.2.
“Atlante was a top-class three year-old and we knew how well the sons of Fastnet Rock were doing in Australia so he was a very attractive proposition. He was the first horse I syndicated but unfortunately we lost him in December of 2016 in a freak accident which was a devastating hit for everyone".
A friendship with Darley and its Australian supremo Henry Plumptre, in particular, opened the way for Complacent and Contributer to stand at Mapperley. By the 2007 English Derby winner Authorized (IRE), Complacent is out of Insouciance, a daughter of the 1990 Derby winner Quest For Fame (GB).
Complacent, whose triumphs featured the ATC Spring Champion Stakes-Gr.1 and Tattersalls Club (NSW) Chelmsford Stakes-Gr.2, also finished second to Polanski in the VRC Victoria Derby-Gr.1Contributer, who like Complacent was foaled in 2010, is by High Chaparral from the Gr.3-winning Exit to Nowhere mare Serisia, who has had five winners from six foals to race.
A winner four times in England, two of them in Listed races, Contributer adapted quickly to the conditions “down under” with his successes in the ATC Chipping Norton Stakes-Gr.1, Rawson Stakes-Gr.1 and other races earning him the title of Champion Middle Distance Horse of Australia in 2014-15.
“Henry has always been a big advocate of New Zealand and I’d chat away to him at the sales,” Simms said. “I’d tried to buy another stallion from Darley, which didn’t get over the line, but they knew I was trying to move in the direction of having stallions.
“It grew from there and when I knew Complacent had been retired I got on a plane and went over to Darley to look at him. I liked what I saw and the deal was done. Then, after Contributer was injured, Alastair Pulford and Andy Makiv, from Darley, were over in New Zealand and I was invited to dinner with them down the road from Mapperley. We virtually did that deal for him standing around in a kitchen over a few glasses of wine.
“Complacent is standing in a partnership between Mapperley and Darley, while Contributer is standing in a partnership between Mapperley, Darley and a group of New Zealand breeders. Contributer is a perfect for us after the huge success we have had with the progeny of High Chaparral, with both So You Think and Dundeel being raised and grazed on Mapperley.
“Besides that Contributer was a racehorse of the highest caliber, a great mover, lovely looking and has a real presence about him. It’s very exciting to have four young boys in the roster with everything in front of them. I can hardly wait to see what unfolds over the next few years."
In May of 2017, Mapperley were given the opportunity to go into a lucrative partnership with Monovale Holdings to stand Dual Gr.1 winner Puccini (by Encosta De Lago). Simms had his eye on the star galloper during his 3 and 4-year-old seasons and jumped at the opportunity to stand the blueblood at his Matamata based stud. "Puccini was such a tough racehorse and we are delighted to be standing him in conjunction with the Smithies family. He should serve a good book of mares this year and we'll both be supporting him with our best mares" Simms said.