Local breeder tops the nation

Local breeder tops the nation

Ngyrie is getting the 2022 daughter of Champagne Bubbles ready for the June yearling sales. In August the new foals will start to arrive and the breeding season will begin.

Serpentine’s Alwyn Park Stud has long been a breeding ground for champions.

In the past 18 months alone, the Andrews have laid claim to the Group 1 Railway Stakes winner (Trix of the Trade), Perth Cup winner (Buster Bash), and a ‘quinella’ at the Magic Millions at Pinjarra, with Big Shots triumphing in the 2YO Classic, and Bondi Bubbles bringing home the trophy for the three-year-olds – his seventh straight career win.

But the stud’s latest (two-legged) champion has been resolutely building to her career pinnacle over the past two decades.

On May 29, in front of the nation’s racing industry luminaries, stud manager Ngyrie Gonzalez took out the ‘Dedication to Breeding’ honour at the 10th Australian Stud and Stable Staff Awards.

“It was very surreal,” she said. “There were a lot of tears.”

When Ngyrie left school, she had no idea what she wanted to do with herself.

“But Mum and Dad had a rule: ‘if you’re not studying, you’re working’,” she said.

So, she enrolled in an equine management course and landed a job with the famous Heytesbury Stud.

However, it wasn’t until John Andrew took a chance on her that her passion for breeding thoroughbreds was truly kindled.

“I learnt so much when John took me on, and loved every minute of it,” she said.

“I started foaling down, and yearling prep.

“And I just fell in love with the whole circle – going through the hard yards from getting them in their mum’s belly to seeing them win on the track.

“I love the whole industry, but I really enjoy the breeding side. Being there at the beginning and following through is tremendously satisfying.”

Ngyrie has worked at Alwyn Park for 18 years – a lifetime in the industry – and can’t imagine herself being anywhere else.

“John is more than a boss to me – he’s family. So, it doesn’t really feel like work,” she said.

“If he ever closed the doors, I don’t think I’d work at another stud. You can’t beat John, you just can’t.”

Luckily for Ngyrie, the feeling’s mutual.

In fact, John was the one who nominated her for the industry’s top honour.

“Ngyrie isn’t just part of the family, she’s the most important part,” he said.

“She deserves this.”

One of the judging criteria was that candidates “must have been pivotal in their employer’s success”.

And John wasn’t shy in attributing his, in no small part, to Ngyrie.

“There’s no job that’s off-limits, from operating the chaff cutter, to liaising with clients, she has total devotion to whatever she does,” he said.

“I could walk off the farm and she could run it.

“She’s conscientious, and very dedicated to her job. And she’s full of compassion. The thing is, you don’t do this job for the money – you do it because you have compassion for the animals.”

This isn’t the first time John’s nominated her for the honour either. Last year, Ngyrie made the Top 5 shortlist.

“There were quite a lot of entries so to even make Top 5 was amazing,” Ngyrie said.

“So, I was stoked to get the call just before Easter that I’d made the Top 2 this time.

The whole family travelled with Ngyrie to the Gold Coast for the awards’ gala dinner.

“My partner Sam has put up with a lot, so it was amazing to have him there with me,” she said.

“But it was nerve-wracking and overwhelming.

“The other girl I was up against was just as worthy of the award.”

Tasmanian Diane Colebrook was the other woman vying for the trophy and the $10,000 prize money.

“For an award that celebrates dedication in the thoroughbred industry, Diane Colebrook and Ngyrie Gonzalez have impeccable credentials,” the judges said.

“Such superlatives as ‘unequivocal commitment’ and ‘total devotion’ are scattered through the testimonials that support their nominations.”

When Ngyrie’s name was announced, she burst into tears. There may have been a few from John too.

“I had to pull myself together to go up on stage and collect the trophy,” she said.

“But they were tears of joy.

“We’ve worked hard and gone through some tough years to get the stud to where it is now, so to be recognised after that is amazing.

“It’s great to start our breeding season off on a high.”

She said she has no plans following this career-high, other than to keep on learning and enjoying the job.