Early Racing History

Racing in Colonial times

The interest in racehorses is not new to the family. The Vallances have a long tradition of producing race horses as well as jumpers and hunters. Horses bred or raced by the family (brothers James and Harry) in the early colonial days included winners of the Auckland Cup (Salvage in 1883), Wellington Cup (Pasha  in 1887), and the Auckland RC Handicap 2 years in a row (Pinfire in 1879 and Lara in 1880). Pasha (1881 bg by Mute) who also won the Canterbury Metropolitan Handicap, was out of the Vallance’s good mare Rose d’Amour (Sharkie family). She also produced the good racemare Rosefeldt (1888, by Nordenfeldt) who won the New Zealand Cup for owner Mr W Douglas.

“Racing was of course quite different then and they traveled from one end of the country to the other. We found one reference in the 1885 Turf Record to a race meeting in Nelson that 3 year old Pasha had four starts in the one day over distances ranging from ‘one mile and a quarter to two miles and a distance’.  The Vallance’s apparently set up a stud in Waikanae in the 1880’s and imported two stallions from Australia to stand there. They were reputed to be the 3rd or 4th stallions imported into the area – but research on this is continuing! Even as late as the 1920s, in spring, mares were ridden/led to stud from the farm on Castlepoint Road over the Akatatawaras in a two day trip stopping overnight at Featherston. And back again in mid summer. ”

Sadly a damper was put on a major involvement with racing when Harry was killed at the Castlepoint races in the 1890s. The youngest brother Charles F Vallance (Rupert’s great grandfather) was President of the Masterton Racing Club for more than 30 years until his death in 1934. His favourite race horse was Sturdee who won the Grand National Steeplechase in 1924 with trainer Miss G Maher and the ornate Silver cup is proudly on display in the homestead along with a complete set of NZ Studbooks starting from Vol 1 in 1899. Rupert’s father Tony Vallance was a steward for the Masterton Racing Club and on the judicial committee with Alistair Williams of Te Parae. Tony was also handicapper for the Castlepoint Races for many years as well as honorary huntsman for the Wairarapa Hunt Club for 5 years in the 1960s.

Longspring founded in 1982

While racing was in the blood, current owners Rupert and Anne Vallance had a slightly different approach when they took over the farm in 1980 and focused on sport horses with the importation of a specialized Hanoverian jumping stallion Distelfink. He turned out to be a great success at stud producing more top sport horses than any other stallion to date in NZ.

Back to breeding Thoroughbreds in 2009

Their daughter Victoria however, who is now managing breeding on the stud farm is interested in breeding for racing so its back to thoroughbreds for the future alongside the sport horse operation.

Interestingly enough, they join a group of elite equestrian competitors who now focus on thoroughbreds as a mid-life career change – Jeff McVean, Ann & Harvey Wilson, Graeme Hart (Fernhill Stud), Blyth Tait and Merran Hain.