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Swettenham Bloodstock Agent Profile – Group 1 Bloodstock
March 7, 2018
Born and bred into the industry, Matt Becker of Group 1 Bloodstock is an aspiring young agent with a wealth of thoroughbred experience, gained both locally and abroad.
Having grown up as the son of one of Victoria’s most renowned stud masters, Mike Becker, Matt was raised at Toolern Vale’s Independent Stallion Station.
“I was never far from my dad’s side on the farm, at the track and around the sales, before I went out and gained experience on my own. Travelling abroad helps you learn about the differences and the similarities there are in the horse industry worldwide.”
“I was fortunate to travel over to the Aga Khan in Ireland to complete a stud season. It is an incredible operation between France and Ireland, seeing the horses working on the Curragh, and being in the main stallion barn. It was a brilliant time to be there as Daylami has just retired to stud and they had the champion three-year-old Sinndar, who won the Epsom, the Irish Derby and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.”
Initially wanting to be a trainer, Matt gathered valuable experience with Pat Carey, and with David Hall at Flemington, but the most valuable influence on Matt’s knowledge was from John Hawkes.
“Undoubtedly my dad, Mike Becker has been has been my greatest long-term supporter, but the person I admire most in the racing industry is John Hawkes. The period I spent with him at Ingham’s, and then the 12 months when he went out on his own was my greatest learning curve.”
“By just by being around him, you could see his genius at work, and although he handled huge numbers, his memory and intimate knowledge of every horse in his stable was what set him apart. That’s why he is a Hall of Fame trainer.”
“Hawkes has an incredible eye for detail when looking at a horse in his yard, and is one of the best yearling judges at the sales. I learned why he picked out certain horses, and then over the years, observed how he trained each of those horses and how he tailored their individual program.”
“The Ingham’s system was world class, with Trevor Lobb at the helm in the breeding side and John at the helm on the racing side. They were the pinnacle, and as a young guy, that experience still really benefits me now as an agent.”
“I saw thousands of horses come through, in all shapes and sizes, and one thing I learnt was to identify the athlete in the horse. I can be forgiving of confirmation, but the one common denominator that they all had was athleticism.”
Group 1 Bloodstock, has now been operating for three years and Becker can offer his clients a well rounded and educated opinion to maximise the success of their bloodstock purchases.
“Building up a bloodstock company takes time, as it a result driven game. You need to get the winners on the board, but I have been fortunate that a couple of clients have shown me good faith early on. Ben Cooper from Merricks Station has backed me to buy his yearlings and mares, and we have had good success straight away. My other good client has been Ross Ferris at Two Bays Farm, who has been a phenomenal support.”
Matt now attends all the major breeding and yearling sales in Australia, and after going to the Tatts breeding stock sale this year, he also aspires to buy in Europe or America.
“Tatts really opened my eyes and I would love to get back there and look at buying in Europe or head over to Kentucky in America.
“There is no hard and fast rule to buying bloodstock abroad and it is good to bring new blood into our gene pool, but we need to be mindful that they are the right physical type to suit our style of racing.”
“My father’s best stallion was from the Northern Dancer sire line, Artie Schiller, and now he has left the state, Toronado would be a great example of that line, being a son of High Chaparral.”
“Toronado profiles with close similarities to him, being more of a miler. He has the ability to throw good bone, good muscle, and early maturing horses that will run at two, but will want to get to a mile and peak at three.”
“It’s exciting as they have been very well represented and been spread across all the major vendors here at Premier. They are getting good reports which are translating into in the prices they are achieving.”
“He has all the ingredients, he has the pedigree, he has the race performance, and he is one of the nicest stallions you would ever see. Now he has the right types on the ground, he has ticked all the boxes so far. I think people should be very confident buying into the Toronado’s.”
Matt is also a huge fan of the Shamardal sire Swettenham’s, Puissance De Lune.
“It’s not a bloodline we can access very easily in Victoria, and he had brilliant explosive speed, which is an essential ingredient in a stallion. He offers a outcross, and we know he embraced our way of training, and was competitive in the toughest races in high quality fields.”
“It would not surprise me if he came out of left field and blew everyone away. He would only need to get a couple of nice results early, and they would come quickly for him.”
“I believe as a young agent that there is no better place to be than Victoria, because of what TBV, and people like Adam Sangster do to push the VOBIS scheme. The Showdown has gained good traction amongst the trainers, and they are genuinely backing the concept by going to the sales and looking for a runner.”
“We have a unique situation in Victoria with some passionate breeders with world-class farms, world-class broodmares, that support Victorian stallions. They have brought their best to Premier to showcase and that is great for breeders, studs, trainers and agents.”