Breeder of the Month
Dennis Bice Story by Peter Wharton
An association with former Christchurch now Gold Coast-based bloodstock agent Stuart Valentine that began in 2013 has underpinned the recent success being enjoyed by Victorian hobby breeder Dennis Bice.
One of the results of the pair’s alliance is exciting, young square-gaiter Jilliby Babavska, the winner of 12 of his 26 starts to date including a Group 3 at Melton and $90,610 in stakes.
“We bought his dam La Tonneralla in foal to Sundon on the recommendation of Stuart,” Dennis said. “She’s a half-sister to two Derby winners in NZ.”
“We raised the foal and offered him at the 2015 Australasian Premier Trotting Sale where he was sold to Paddy Lee for $15,000.”
Watch The Dream NZ, the dam of NZ 2YO and 3YO Filly of the Year Western Dream, Our Narissa Franco NZ, a half-sister to Franco Nelson ($872,493) and Sixty Plus NZ, a close relative of Lyell Creek are other members of Bice’s broodmare band purchased on the advice of Valentine.
A former president of the Bendigo Harness Racing Club and a committeeman of Trots Club Victoria, Bice and his wife Brenda conduct Yorkshire Park Standardbreds, a boutique breeding and agistment property at Carlsruhe in the Macedon Ranges.
The couple have been breeding and raising standardbreds, mainly for the yearling sale market, for more than 25 years.
“The first good horse we bred and owned was Rare Courage,” Dennis said.
The Armbro Aussie gelding totted up 15 wins including the Moonee Valley and Wedderburn Cups and banked in excess of $80,000.
Down through the years the couple has bred numerous winners such as Masterkova, who won her first three starts, the APG heat winner All Done Up (purchased her dam in foal with All Done Up), Rocking Bugatti, Pearlescent, Artful Christian, My Aliyana and the trotter Social Fireball.
However, 2019/20 is shaping up as a banner year for the owners of Yorkshire Park Standardbreds.
Besides Jilliby Babavska, the Bice’s have bred and reared the talented She Will Rock, a three-year-old filly who won three of her six starts before being sidelined through injury, Hancocks Hero (three wins) and his half-sister Go Home Jo (five wins), and Glenavril King, all winners since September 1.
She Will Rock has been earmarked for the Yorkshire Park broodmare contingent once her racing days are ended, along with Alta Mach NZ, a half-sister to the cups winner Five Star Anvil.
The Bice’s currently own eight broodmares in Watch The Dream, Ima Ritzi Lombo, Sixty Plus, La Tonneralla, My Little Black Dress, Vickymurphy, Masterkova and Lombo Socialite.
Dennis said he breeds between four and six mares each year.
“This year we will have five foals,” he said.
The mares are all bred from and foaled down and the resultant foals are weaned at Northern Rivers Equine Clinic, Kyabram.
Dennis and Brenda are looking forward to the 2020 APG Melbourne yearling sale in February.
“We have nominated two fillies for the sale. One is by Sportswriter from Watch The Dream and the other is by Well Said from Vickymurphy,” Dennis said.