Breeder of the Month

Maurice Hanrahan takes on new position on HBV                                Story by Peter Wharton

Bungaree harness racing enthusiast and newly elected Treasurer of Harness Breeders Victoria, Maurice Hanrahan, has a background in developing policies and strategies.

He served as the Director of Policy in the Premier’s Department and worked for three Victorian Premiers in Jeff Kennett, Steve Bracks and John Brumby for seven years and also worked for Heritage Victoria as a policy and finance assessor.

He also worked on projects at the Melbourne Showgrounds, David Hayes’s Lindsay Park stables at Euroa, and with James Cain, the son of Victorian Premier the late John Cain, at the Melbourne Ports.

Now Hanrahan is using his business acumen to establish a model for breeding and racing standardbreds.

Maurice belongs to a family steeped in harness racing. Well known clans in the Ballarat region such as the McGuigan’s, Mahar’s, Prendergast’s and Simpson’s are all relatives.

“I grew up around horses and good stock,” Maurice said. “Now I’m hoping to get some good racing stock of our own.”

Maurice’s father, Tom Hanrahan, dabbled in breeding and racing for a short time.

Maurice Hanrahan with a Shadow Play orphan colt out of Rhodium Castle

His first broodmare, Tiki Belle whom he purchased off the late Andy Prendergast, left only one foal for him but Tiki Jazz (by Jazzy Spark) won a total of 15 races – including two at Moonee Valley – under the tutelage of Vin Mahar.

Maurice himself has also experienced success as an owner.

Valla Reine (by Cam’s Fool), a $5,500 buy at the APG Melbourne sale, gave him his biggest win in the Group 2 $50,000 APG Melbourne Autumn Sale Final at Melton in July 2018. Whilst by an unfashionable but handy sire in Cam’s Fool, she was selected on the basis of nice conformation and being linebred to a nice mare in Bret’s Romance.

The Melton winner Safely Loaded (8 wins) and Blissfull Spanker (5 wins) were other handy performers part-owned by Maurice.

Maurice, who conducts a 300 acre potato and cattle property with his wife Jacinta, and owns the Munster Arms hotel in Ballarat, has added standardbred breeder to his resume.

He is gradually building a group of young, well bred broodmares.

“We are discreetly getting together a collection of broodmares and sending them to nice stallions. They’re probably not always commercially appealing stallions but we’re looking at the winning post I suppose.

“That’s our aim,” he stated.

Maurice’s broodmare herd recently increased and comprises:

  1. It’s Girl Power, a 1:57.5 winner of 10 races by Christian Cullen

  2. Artistic Wish, a nice young Artistic Fella mare that was injured as a juvenile and bred by the astute Dianne and Bernie Kelly from NSW. She is a half-sister to the good winner Spring Walton 

  3. Jilliby Ebony, a 1:59.5 Artiscape half-sister to Vicbred 3YO champion Jilliby Melody

  4. Adherent, a Yankee Paco half-sister to Vicbred 2YO Final winner Master Maori and to the dams of Group 1 winners Spidergirl, Illawong Armstrong, Kinvara Sue and Pretty Majestic

  5. Annie Jones NZ, a winning McArdle mare from the family of Breeders Crown champion Flying Pocketlands and Bling it On

  6. Daisy Adele, an Artesian mare whose wins include Tas. Yearling Sale Classic and Belmont. She is a half-sister to the Jane Ellen winner El Jay’s Magic

Jilliby Ebony is carrying a positive test to Lennytheshark; Adherent has produced a yearling filly by Yankee Spider; Annie Jones has dropped a two-year-old colt by American Ideal and is in-foal to For A Reason; and Daisy Adele has left a Four Starzzz Shark weanling filly.

Another mare, Rhodium Castle, whose nine successes included the Victoria Youthful Stakes, died after foaling a colt by Shadow Play.

Maurice said the progeny will all be broken in by John Murphy and trained by his brother David, one of the State’s leading professionals.

“We’re working on a syndication model where we’ll lease the progeny of these mares,” Maurice said. “We’ll take a share and David and John Murphy will both take a share.

“We’re working on a breed-to-race model. We’re not interested in the yearling sales.  Unless you’re really at the top end it’s a hard road to hoe.


“Our model going forward is that if we breed good quality horses and give them every chance and get a number of people involved in the experience and hopefully they’ll enjoy it and keep reinvesting,” he said.

Hanrahan is philosophical about the future of standardbred breeding.

“Now is not to a bad time to get into breeding. I know there’s a number of challenges out there but in terms of getting a nice broodmare band together going forward and aiming to breed good horses, now is a good time.

“I know you’ve still got to get them to the racetrack and doing everything right but I think in terms of challenging there is also opportunity in challenge,” Maurice said.

Previous Breeders of the Month by Peter Wharton

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