Mounts on loan for Cup
SARA Grills has lived and breathed stock horses her whole life, from using them on her family’s farm as a child and utilising their skill and agility during polocrosse matches, to successfully breeding them through the family’s Berragoon ASH Stud.
Add into the mix that two of her children, Lucy and Jim, were recently named in the Australian polocrosse squad, both vying for a spot on the 2019 Australian Polocrosse World Cup team and it is fair to say that Sara knows a thing or two about the classic, versatile Australian stock horse.
Sara said the family had long links with the breed.
“My mum started in 1974, not long after the Australian Stock Horse Society was formed,” she said.
“We had a family property at Hay and horses had always been a big part of our lives.
“We used stock horses on the farm and my sister and I were involved in pony club.
“I joined the business in 1979 when I finished school, so have been involved in breeding for nearly 40 years.
“My husband Charlie, sister Debbie and I took over the business in 1987 and have been running it ever since.
“Now our children, Lucy and Jim, and their partners, Matt Davison and Katie Wills, are integral to the stud’s success. It is a true family business.
“It probably dates back to the late 1800s when my great-grandfather was a member of NSW’s first polo team.
“We still have his silks, which is pretty special.”
Berragoon ASH stud is on about 1620ha at Holbrook, NSW that specialises in artificial breeding.
The stud will be a source for horses loaned for use in the Adina 2019 Polocrosse World Cup to be held Warwick, Queensland.
“Many of our superior mares are polocrosse horses, so the artificial breeding allows us to breed progeny from them without taking them out of the competitive circuit,” Sara said.
In the 12 months leading up to the World Cup, three Australian horse scouts go to matches across eastern Australia to see which horses are performing, seeking toughness, speed, endurance, resilience and agility.
All selected horses are put into a pool to ensure the selection process is fair across all teams, with an even spread of graded horses.
It may seem extraordinary to loan horses to strangers, but it is a part of the sport.
“We are lucky to currently have quite a few nice polocrosse horses at Berragoon, which means that we can loan out A-grade horses while keeping a few of our most valuable breeding mares safely back at the stud. It is really important to loan high-quality horses – the sport relies on it,” Sara said.
“We have become even more attuned to this since our kids started playing at a national and international level.
“We rely on others to loan horses so our kids can perform at their best, and we do the same in return.
“We do it to support the sport. Also, there’s nothing better than seeing one of your horses perform on the field, whether it be with a young junior player, or seeing a B-grade horse turn into A-grade magic when paired with a world-class player – almost as exciting as watching the kids play.”
Sara said the event organisers took great care of the horses, covering all feeding costs, vet checks and insurances.
TOP COMPETITOR: Australian polocrosse squad member Lucy Grills. Her family’s stud will supply horses to the World Cup in Warwick next year.
Sara and Charlie Grills.