Valachi Downs Stud
Started in 2005, the Valachi Downs site was carefully selected by owner Kevin Hickman. After spending considerable time searching the Waikato for the perfect balance of flat country and rolling hills to raise young horses, he discovered 50 acres on Taotaoroa Road near Matamata that was to become the foundation for Valachi Downs. As his band of mares increased, along with his enthusiasm for breeding, he purchased the adjacent property to complete what is today known as Valachi Downs. The original properties were set up for cattle and milking, so the few sheds and cow fencing were completely transformed to meet the needs of a thoroughbred stud. New paddocks were designed and the old landscape gave way to kilometres of post and rail fencing, lanes of trees and red robin hedging and quality stabling suitable for horse breeding. A large barn now sits atop the hill, looking over the stud below, home to yearlings and weanlings during the sales preparations and weaning season.
The Valachi broodmare band reflects pedigrees from around the world, with carefully selected mares purchased in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Each season the mares visit some of the best stallions New Zealand and Australia have to offer, striving to breed quality racehorses. With a philosophy of keeping some fillies to race and breed, while selling the colts from the farm, Valachi Downs provides the opportunity to buy some quality yearlings with plenty of racing potential.
Kevin Hickman has always been a passionate racing supporter, however until his retirement from the Managing Director's role at Ryman Healthcare in 2005 he had very little time to indulge in the research and planning required to start this venture. Kevin's passion for competition was sparked early on and he was a keen athlete, before turning his hand to coaching. For many years he nutured athletes taking some through to compete at the highest levels, so it seems natural that he should transfer some of this experience to the racetrack. He and wife Joanna have both been heavily involved in the sporting world, Joanna a successful athlete and former Athletics New Zealand Chairperson. The couple have both been very successful in the business world. Their wealth of experience and drive to accomplish greatness provides an inspirational base for the success of Valachi Downs.
Kevin and Joanna Hickman enjoying a day at the races