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Conatus was bred by Gerry Harvey, one of Australia’s most insightful and leading breeders, who has maintained a majority interest in Conatus throughout his racing and breeding career.

Gerry owns his dam, Light Up The World (Rory’s Jester) and his grand-dam Christmas Sprit (Bletchingly), who are both members of the fabulous Denise’s Joy family, Australia’s biggest Group 1 producing family. In fact, Gerry probably owns more members of this illustrious family than any other breeder in Australia.

These days he is feeling particularly pleased with himself, because his home bred and home raised young sire has stepped up and delivered a surge of winners in his first crop. It is his second crop, however – with emerging 2YO’s like the explosive colt Military Secret and the exciting fillies Verballed and Olive Oyl – that are shaping up to look even more impressive.

Gerry Harvey – Baramulstud

Gerry Harvey

Breeder and major part owner of Conatus.

When you stand a stallion in partnership with Gerry Harvey, one of Australia’s most admired and successful businessmen, people have a way of asking questions.

First, they want to know if you can arrange an introduction for Cousin Freddie who’s just created the world’s only dishwasher with an inbuilt TV (the reply is standard: speak to Sharon, his PA of some 30 years).

Then there’s the next question: what’s he really like?

You tell them that Gerry Harvey is an ordinary bloke who comes across in private exactly the same way that he does in the media. He is humble, down to earth, plain speaking – and thoroughly decent. In fact, somebody once described him as an ordinary bloody billionaire.

He wears two hats, this man. The first is that of public entertainer, the charming genial clown that makes the public laugh and clamor for more. The other, the one more generally reserved for the boardroom, is that of the businessman.

And that’s exactly the moment when the expression in the eyes changes from clown to icy calculation.

The truth is, Gerry Harvey doesn’t give a damn what anybody thinks of him. When he was at the Magic Millions last January, he suddenly stopped and decided to use the lip of a blue plastic garbage bin as a temporary executive desk. He spread out his catalogue, pulled out a pencil and happily settled in to do his calculations, oblivious to the stares of the crowd. Horses are his passion and the sales ring is his office. And bugger what anyone else thinks.

Gerry Harvey is Chairman of the retail chain Harvey Norman Holdings Limited, whose stores can be found across Australia, New Zealand, Slovenia, Ireland, Singapore and Malaysia.

Harvey – along with his mates John Singleton and Rob Ferguson – purchased the Magic Millions for $7 million in 1997: today the company is worth closer to $200 million, but Harvey has no intention of selling. “No way,” he says. “I’m having too much fun.”

The land and its people run strongly in his blood: he is the son of a NSW farmer and his mother came from Blackall in Western Queensland. He has owned Broombee near Armidale for the last 35 years and purchased Baramul in the Hunter Valley more recently.

Baramul – which was producing good horses back in the 1870s when it was simply known as Joe’s Paddock – became a stud farm in its own right in 1940. And in those 65 years comes the kind of history that any farm in the world would surely dream about.

The original Australian superstar sire Star Kingdom (Ire) came here in 1951, and he was quickly followed by legendary breed shapers like Todman, Biscay and Bletchingly. And so began the steady procession of extraordinary horses that have flowed out of this beautiful valley – the Valley of Champions.

The stud is now rapidly emerging back into the glory days it enjoyed from the 1950’s through to the late 1970’s.

Harvey’s expansion into the stud business continued in 2005, when – along with John Singleton and other partners – Harvey purchased a major share in Vinery Stud.

‘When all my foals are born after August 1st, I will probably have a thousand horses,” he recently told the Australian Financial Review. “I haven’t got a plan. I’ve grown so much in the last five years I have to decide if I want to grow more.”

In the meantime, his equine empire has entered a remarkable new phase. His farms have either bred or own such racehorses like Lotteria, Fashion’s Afield, Savabeel, Arlington Road, Nevis, Magically, Kakakakatie, Presenting – and the list continues to grow.

In 2005, over 200 of Harvey’s star-studded band of broodmares were bred to the best stallions in Australia and New Zealand including Redoute’s Choice, Encosta de Lago, Zabeel, More Than Ready, General Nediym, Mossman, Hussonet and Flying Spur. His finest result so far was the sale of the Red Ransom – Savannah Express colt at the 2006 Magic Millions Yearling Sales for $1.5million.

Through the days of love and celebration and joy, and through the dark days of mourning
- the faithful horse has been with us always.

—Elizabeth Cotton