In 1930 Seton Otway purchased a run-down 248-acre Waikato dairy farm. Named Trelawney, the farm remains the oldest commercially operated stud farm in New Zealand.
A tall, sinewy man with bushy eyebrows overlooking twinkling, almost mischievous eyes, Otway developed an intense love for the thoroughbred at an early age. For him conformation was a priority and his formula was simple: "Head and neck of a fairy, the chest and shoulders of a duchess, the back of an alderman and the arse of a cook."
One of greatest influences on Otway’s success was the remarkable sire Foxbridge (GB) who he bought in 1935 for 2765 guineas. A super-sire of his era, Foxbridge headed the NZ sire’s premiership for 11 seasons, dominating the racing scene in the 1940s. A sense of his dominance was recorded at Ellerslie on Boxing day in 1944. Six of the winners on the eight-race card were sired by Foxbridge.
His accomplishments continued as a broodmare sire where the success of his daughters at stud saw him crowned as champion broodmare sire 11 times. Five of his daughters produced Melbourne
In 1950 Otway returned from Britain with the successors to Foxbridge- Marco Polo II and Khorassan, the later sired Tulloch who was arguably the most famous horse to come off Trelawney. Trained by legend Tommy Smith, Tulloch won 33 times at elite level.
Another stallion to prove very successful was Alcimedes. Among his first crop were VRC Derby winner Prince Grant and Melbourne Cup winner Galilee. He was also the sire of Melbourne Cup winner Silver Knight.
Under Otway's management the farm produced seven Melbourne Cup winners: Hiraji (1947), Foxzami (1949), MacDougal (1959), Hi-Jinx (1960), Galilee (1966), Polo Prince (1964) and Silver Knight (1971).
In the 1970s Otway's youngest son Jim took over management of the farm, a post he held for around two decades. Otway senior held an active interest in the farm until he passed away at the age of 94 in 1989. His ashes were placed between Foxbridge and Alcimedes, the two stallions that helped shape the success of the farm and together held 16 NZ Champion Sire titles.
In 2016 Otway joined Foxbridge as a member of the NZ Racing Hall of Fame.
In 1987 the Troy Corporation purchased a 50% share in the bloodstock of Trelawney. Unfortunately the share market crash that year forced the Otway family to sell the farm to clear debts, and the farm was bought by Australian billionaire Robert Holmes A'Court.
Holmes A'Court left the management of Trelawney with Jim Otway in a gesture aimed at interfering as little as possible with the history of the famous property. He had a keen interest in racing and had already established Heytesbury Stud in Western Australia whose foundation stallion was Trelawney's 1971 Melbourne Cup winner Silver Knight. He sire Black Knight who won the 1984 edition of the great race in Holmes A'Court's colours.
Further bad luck ensued when Holmes A'Court died soon after in 1990 aged 53.
The early 1990s was the beginning of the Taylor era when Trelawney changed ownership for just the third time in 80 years.
Faith Taylor, born Faith Duncan, is the undisputed matriarch of the modern Trelawney Stud and is a familiar face at the annual yearling sale and on the farm. Born in Hunterville, Faith has always been involved in the thoroughbred industry. Her great-great-grandfather Andrew Duncan moved to New Zealand in 1840 and imported broodmares from England and the Duncans have been entwined with thoroughbreds ever since.
The origins of the Duke of Gloucester Cup, competed for by New Zealand amateur riders, trace back to 1935 when the Duncan family hosted Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester, at the Marton Jockey Club's New Year's Day meeting. The Duke was so impressed by the hospitality he later presented the trophy which was named in his honour and is hotly contested each year on the amateur rider circuit.
Faith was the first in the Duncan family to breed commercially and with husband Keith marketed yearlings at the Trentham sales. Keith's passion for the industry extended into administration and he was a long-serving member of the Wellington Racing Club committee.
Brent Taylor, the middle of Keith and Faith's three children, is Managing Director of Trelawney and forms a formidable team with his wife Cherry who acts as Director and Bloodstock Advisor. Together they have taken over ownership of the farm and strive to not only protect and preserve Trelawney's legacy of success, but add their own chapter to the history of the farm that has become the nursery of champions.