HERE is a Q &A with Fred Brons, Heversham Park Breeding Associate:
While aeroplanes have always been his first passion, Netherlands born Fred Brons has set course and is flying full throttle into breeding winning racehorses.
After introductions and a handshake, we sort of put our foot in it as we get the discussion rolling, asking him about his ‘sideline’. He reacts with some animated conviction.
“We see breeding racehorses as a business and there is nothing more rewarding than having your hobby, passion and true grit become a way of life. So, no, it’s definitely not a sideline!,” he says as he explains that he runs his own aircraft Charter and Leasing company, called Fair Aviation, including a travel agency, Journey Corp.
“I am still career building and hoping I can leave the aviation section to my two boys, Clint and Dean, while I release myself into the horse business,” says the enthusiastic businessman.
But why get into breeding in this economic climate? We seem to have pressed another button!
“When must you play the breeding market? There are as many avenues as there are dead ends. Life is a walk and we can choose to walk the path or stay where you are. Life is full of opportunities and we can test them or we can avoid them. Life is a challenge and we can reach out to them, or sit on the sidewalk. Life is a risk and we can take that risk or we can hide in a safe haven. I’d like to say that what we are doing is a ‘calculated risk’,” he says consideredly.
“People will tell you that that breeding in Gauteng is a massive risk and the chances of success are minimal. Brilliant advice! Therefore if we are going to take a calculated risk, we best do our calculations thoroughly, and hope and pray that we can create an edge. If we are going to breed the ‘traditional’ way, then we will be doomed to fail. But we’d like to look at it a very differently,” he says.
Arriving in South Africa from the Netherlands at the age of three, Fred grew up on the East Rand.
He attended Rynfield Laerskool and Brandwag Hoerskool and only managed to get through school, he suggests modestly, because of his sport ability. After matric, he completed a Technical Diploma in Electronics, a Diploma in Computer Science, a Marketing Diploma as well as a B.Com Degree. He also completed a shortened MBA through UNISA. But after all that formal education, it was a ‘horse mad’ girlfriend and a grey mare called Misty that stoked his interest in thoroughbreds that would eventually lead to the gates of Heversham Park Farm.
In his quest to breed the ultimate racehorse, Fred has joined forces with Advocate Nigel Riley at Heversham Park Farm in the Daleside Valley, halfway between Johannesburg and the Vaal.
A pedigree specialist of thirty years, the straightalking Hollander is determined to change perceptions that suggest it isn’t possible to breed a decent horse in Gauteng. He believes the natural synergy between Advocate Riley the horserman, and his own insight into bloodlines, could be a winner.
“Advocate Nigel Riley owns the farm. He was a horseman from a very young age and became a licenced Trainer. He knows a horse inside out and can quickly see the potential of a racehorse based on conformation and temperament. And he has the knack to spot if something is not right and always has a good feeling on the medication process until a vet is available. You just cannot fault his horsemanship!” he says with obvious admiration.
Fred’s speciality is pedigrees, which he has developed over some 30 years.
But he admits that looking at conformation and legs is not his strongest talent – but he is learning fast. “ Corne Spies has been helpful. He took me with him to an auction and shared his experience from horse to horse. I really loved that and what an education, it was,” he concedes.
“Advocate Riley is a strategist and acknowledging his shortcoming on bloodlines and my need to have a partner who can help build the ‘ultimate’ racehorse, brought us together at a meeting to see if we could start a breeding association – and we clicked from day one!”