Swettenham Breeder Profile – Hill Thoroughbred Breeding
With a lifetime of experience on the track, professional punter turned breeder, Kevin Hill is now enjoying producing the gallopers he once put a bet on.
Kevin’s family was involved in horses for generations, so it was not surprising he was drawn to racehorses at an early age.
“Most of my uncles were drovers, but it was mum’s side that had the biggest influence, having had trotters, and training racehorses. It was through them I became interested in racing when I was pretty young, at about six or seven years.”
Already loving the excitement and challenge of backing a winner, Kevin studied the daily form, soaking up as much information as possible.
“Back then the newspapers would have six pages of racing stories and the first page I would turn to on a Tuesday and Thursday would be the track work reports.”
“When I was about 10 or 11, I used to sell newspapers on a Saturday. I would take the “raceday edition”, over to a hotel in Sydney, where in those days, they had two or three SP bookies in the hotel foyer. I would sell my papers, get a bob, or a “deener” as it was called, and place a sneaky bet on the horses.”
“Looking back, it was an incredible time for racing as the whole community was involved, it was part of the fabric, racing was a way of life.”
Kevin mastered and refined his gambling skills, which enabled him to become a very successful professional punter in his twenties during the late 60’s.
“It was a pretty good business in the early days, but the shady side reared its ugly head when the big boys got involved.”
“There was one horse I had been following for about three or four starts, and I could see that it was being “looked after” so I thought, I’d have had a substantial wager. As a result, I moved the price which upset the wrong types.”
“I remember some of them having a not so friendly chat after to me after the race. There must have been a heap of money involved as nobody was too happy with the outcome, especially my intuition and good fortune!”
Eventually settling down to a “proper job” in insurance, Kevin built up his own successful business, which saw him step away from the tracks and the horses for almost 25 years.
“About 15 years ago I got back into thoroughbreds, on the breeding side though, and with some good advice from Randwick bloodstock agent Brett Howard, I acquired my first mare.”
Initially K & L Investments, Kevin now trades as Hill Thoroughbred Breeding, and has a quality band of six broodmares. Investing in lifetime rights to Swettenham Stud’s Americain as a stallion, he has once again become engaged in the industry.
Kevin’s first Americain foal was the very first Americain born at Swettenham in the stallion’s first crop. The result was Aristocat, an essential contributor to Americain’s first Australian double.
Sold as a yearling for $40,000, Aristocat was physically a beautifully balanced colt and a great mover, before becoming an $80,000 graduate from the 2016 Inglis Ready 2 Race Sale. Purchased by Sunshine Coast trainer Stuart Kendrick, Aristocat will head towards the three-year-old races in the Brisbane Winter.
“It was great to see him win at Ipswich. He is out of my New Zealand staying mare, Year Of The Cat. By Tale Of The Cat, she was bred by Waikato Stud’s Garry Chittick to stay, so I sent her to Americain. She has had three Americain foals, and all three have been just outstanding.”
“I have been very happy with the types Americain has produced. They are excellent, very strong, and with a bit of time, they will perform to their best. He is doing a brilliant job, he may be my best bet yet!
Kevin has retained the two-year-old Americain filly to race, and to hopefully join his growing band of broodmares in the future.
“Being VOBIS, I will send her to Victorian trainer Andrew Payne, and make the most of the bonus prize money. Being a small breeder, I like to go with a small trainer. Andrew is good value, experienced with stayers and he will take his time.”
Kevin believes the stayers we are producing here can equal the imports flooding the major Australian staying races, provided they receive the support from the leading stables and the stallions have access to the best quality mares.
“There is no doubt that the big racing syndicates and owners can breed stayers here in Australia of the same quality as the imports they are bringing in to race. They just need to commit, put their plans in place, and have a bit of patience.”
“If they invested in the Australian industry, as much as they are investing overseas, our local staying stallions would have the opportunities they deserve.”
As Kevin resides in Sydney, his mares mostly live in the Hunter with good friend Mike O’Donnell at Fairhill Thoroughbreds.
“Mike and I have been involved in horses together for a long time. Geographically most of the mares do stay and breed up here, but with my involvement in Americain, I will continue to support Swettenham Stud. Adam, Brian and Rachel have all been great to deal with.”
“My mare Healing Kiss has a beautiful Toronado going to the sales next year; he is a cracker of a colt. The Toronado’s have impressed a lot of people, and he is no exception.”
And although Kevin didn’t give out his Derby Day tips, he is certainly happy to take a gamble on breeding a champion stayer in the future, and with Americain, he’s looking to be odds on.