Keeping Up with Darrell Hollinshead

26 June

Te Awamutu farmer Darrell Hollinshead goes by a simple breeding philosophy, “cross two superior athletes in the pursuit of producing a good one”. A philosophy that has seen his boutique operation produce several successful gallopers and develop a sort after family within the New Zealand Stud Book. 

Spanning over 50 years the Hollinshead name has been synonymous within the NZ racing and breeding scene and when pondering the name Hollinshead, horses such as Judena, Bak Da Chief, Pondarosa Miss, Ecuador, Na Botto and current star galloper Te Akau Shark quickly spring to mind.

Growing up on the family’s 400 acre dairy farm in Te Awamutu it was Darrell’s father Peter who prompted the admiration for the thoroughbred. Darrell worked alongside his father in the milking shed before a decision was made to focus their efforts within the thoroughbred industry. Peter soon established himself as a respected trainer and would later develop a prosperous breeding operation which would ultimately become a lifelong venture. 

When the breeding season loomed, Darrell kept a rather large secret from his father when determining their mare’s initial mates, deciding to send several of their better mares to High Chaparral during his first season in the southern hemisphere which he owes much of his success to.

“I knew dad wanted to send them to a son of Danehill and I couldn't bring myself to tell him I had gone against his advice and put them to High Chaparral, a son of Sadler’s Wells”. It was a judgment that paid dividends with outstanding results on and off the track.

The Sadler’s Wells influence is what Darrell continues to hold as a key element in mating plans, “I have always thought the Sadler’s Wells sire line would be the most influential in the world, that is one of the reasons why I have supported stallions with him in their pedigree”.

Now reduced to a small team in work, Darrell is focused on breeding the next “good one” developing the exciting family of Ponderosa Miss, Ecudor, Bak Da Chief, Havitbak and Te Akau Shark.

We caught up with Darrell to find out a little more ...

What race would you travel back in time for?

The 1988 Melbourne Cup, Dad trained Na Botto to run third, it was an incredible day/night.

Race you would most like to win?   

The Cox Plate.

Best horse you have seen?   

Dulcify – I wish we had seen more of him.

Favourite racetrack?


Favourite stallion of all time?    

High Chaparral.

Favourite stallion at Westbury Stud?

We have had some lovely yearlings by Reliable Man. Our best foal last season was by Tarzino out of Bak Da Princess, she is a half to Pondarosa Miss who is now in foal to Tarzino. They would be my two favourites.        

Best piece of breeding advice you’ve received?   

My Grandfather told me “never sell your best breeding stock” no matter what you are breeding.