Bob Peters: Part I - King of the West - background, philosophies and achievements.
Relaying the Bob Peters story in an abridged manner is almost impossible with a biography doing far more justice.
This is simply because the Western Australia owner/breeder has been a colossus in any venture he chooses to tackle. His is a story of true heart and soul.
His achievements unprecedented in Australian thoroughbred breeding and racing as a private individual. Bob Peters does not choose the limelight, rather the limelight has chosen him.
In this article, comprising three parts, whilst we talk about Bob's achievements we would also like to acknowledge the role of his dedicated wife Sandra as a co-owner/breeder and of course shareholder in Peters Investments, the financial vehicle that has facilitated ongoing success.
We have chosen to split the Bob Peters story into three parts ( to be posted individually ).
Bob Peters: Part I - King Of The West - Background, Philosophies and Achievements.
Bob Peters: Part II - Development of Homebred Families - An exercise in patience, persistence, satisfaction and reward.
Bob Peters: Part III - Discernible Breeding Patterns and Unfinished Business.
Today, Bob Peters is referred to as the "King of the West " a title that may not sit altogether comfortably for a man who is best described by others as quiet and humble, gentlemanly, of polite manner and comforting yet somewhat guarded. And certainly, nothing is to be taken for granted.
Along with his wife Sandra, the year 2021 has been stellar for the couple as both owners and breeders culminating in creating history by being the first to make a clean sweep of Ascot's ( Perth ) Triple Crown, the three Group 1 events; the Railway Stakes ( 1600m ) with Western Empire ( Iffraaj ), the Winterbottom Stakes ( 1200m ) with Graceful Girl ( Nicconi ) and the Kingston Town Classic ( 1800m ) with Regal Power ( Pierro ), all three winners being homebred and therefore adding extra satisfaction and so much more to their levels of achievement.
Such a pinnacle of success has not been instant but rather a result of nearly 50 years of hands on thoroughbred breeding.
When Bob Peters "retired" in 1973 at the tender age of 30 and acquired has first two racehorses, both winners, and a handful of yearling fillies he had "caught the bug" and was in it for the long haul.
From 1973 until the present day horses owned and mostly bred by the Peters have won 10 Pert Cups ( Gr 2, 2400m ), 7 Kingston Town Classics ( Gr 1, 1800m ), 6 Railway Stakes ( Gr 1, 1600m ), 11 WATC Derby's ( Gr 2, 2400m ), 11 WATC Oak's ( Gr3, 2400m ) 4 WA Guineas ( Gr 2, 1600m ) and 2 Winterbottom Stakes ( Gr 1, 1200m ).
Their honour roll of big race winners include such names as Congressman, Old Comrade, Real Love, Miss Margaret, Delicacy, Perfect Reflection, Galaxy Star, Star Exhibit, Enticing Star Celebrity Queen, Arcadia Queen and Regal Power.
The above achievements are testimony to Bob Peters over-riding breeding philosophy of focussing on soundness and horses that can perform at all distances.
This fundamental philosophy has withstood the test of time as the peters have enjoyed more than 200 Stakessuccesses throughoutthe above period with close to 1500 other wins outside of Stakes races.
Also combining in a good deal of this success has been the Peters mainstream trainers Grant and Alana Williams and jockey William Pike ( aka the "Wizard of the West" ).
Bob Peters was born in 1943 ( right in the middle of World War II ) on his parents farm at Dalwallinu ( located north east of Perth ) , his first association with horses being learning to ride them bareback.
Growing up on the farm nurtured his affinity with animals and shaped his desire to want to become a farmer but he was also a gifted student ultimately earning an all fees paid prized scholarship to the prestigious Hale School, something he was to surprisingly decline simply because he did not want to go there.
Upon leaving school, Bob Peters worked a couple of "starter" jobs through the early to mid-60's, firstly for an Insurance company and then as a "Boring contractor" sinking well holes ( for water ) mostly in the Wheat Belt before then joining the Sales team at Western Motors where it took him only one month to become the top Salesman.
So very much shades of Gerry Harvey ( Harvey Norman ) here who has widely espoused his days starting out as a door to door salesman hard selling established brands of vacuum cleaners the likes of Electrolux amongst others.
And like Gerry Harvey in his chosen profession, Bob Peters within short time and with a lot of hard work and long hours having been head-hunted by another car sales mogul was soon establishing his own car sales franchises under the Premier Motors banner and very quickly becoming a significant figure in the Car Sales industry in Western Australia.
So much so that at the age of 30 Bob Peters was a self-made multi-millionaire operating 9 Dealerships , employing over 600 staff under 11 Sales Managers' and selling more than 10,000 vehicles a year, BMW and Honda being his principal franchises.
The year was 1973 and it was time to "retire" and pursue his boyhood dream of becoming a farmer.
He purchased a parcel of land from Robert Holmes A'Court at Keysbrook, increased and developed the holding creating the showpiece that is today known as "Yalebra".
But so-called "early retirement" was to last only as long as three months for the young entrepreneur.
Having met with instant success with his first two racehorses purchased and in the same year being head-hunted and made Master of the West Australian Hunt Club leading on to other racing administration opportunites primarily utilising his "strategic thinking skills" as a key facet of his overall business acumen, Bob was also focussed on another opportunity much closer to home.
In a short space of time Yalebra was also standing stallions; firstly Ksar ( 1970 ) a Blenheim line stallion via Donatello II and Alycidon, and then Old Spice ( 1980 ) a Star Kingdom line horse via the latter's son Kaoru Star.
This also laid the platform for Bob Peters to accumulate mares to go to these stallions and seeding the foundations of his introduction to thoroughbred bloodlines and pedigrees.
As could only be expected, Bob Peters was a quick and astute learner with Old Spice in particular paving the way for early black type success through his sons and daughters.
In 1990, Old Spice's daughter Natasha provided the peters with the first of their 11 WATC Derby successes ( she also won the WA Oaks in the same year ) to be followed in 1993 by son Field Officer winning the first of their 10 Perth Cups.
In 1998 another son Old Nick added a Kingston Town Classic ( their first of 7 ) as well as a WA Guineas ( the first of 4 ) whilst Old Money added their second WATC Derby in 2000 ( emulating the feat of Natasha by also capturing the WA Oaks in the same year ) but perhaps the best of their Old Spice progeny was Old Comrade, winner of the 2001 Railway Stakes ( the first of 6 for the Peters ) as well as winning back-to-back in 2001 and 2002 in the Kingston Town Classic.
Many readers may also remember Old Comrade's victory over fellow Statesider Northerly in the Gr 1 2000m Australian Cup of 2002, a race that Northerly was to claim for himself just 12 months later in 2003.
Old Comrade's victories would have been the source of immense satisfaction for Peters, a true homebred product being by Peters stallion Old Spice and out of the mare Belgravia who was by Peters other stallion of the time in Ksar.
Old Spice was also to claim fame as being the sire of the 1999 Melbourne Cup winner, the Bart Cummings trained Rogan Josh ( although not owned by the Peters ).
The great "Carnivals of the Eighties" where "East Met West" saw the West as the home of some of Australia's biggest owners the likes through their burgeoning business success the likes of Robert Holmes A'Court, Laurie Connell, Dallas Dempster and John Roberts all being acclaimed entrepreneurial titans.
Whilst Bob Peters had the financial muscle to have "mixed it" with the "big boys" he preferred a much quieter path away from the limelight.
Rather than spend vast sums of money on glamourous yearlings at the various National Yearling Sales like many of those listed above, Peters quickly discovered he gleaned far more satisfaction out of the challenge of breeding and developing his own champions, a course he has maintained to reach the level of success he has today, one of near total dominance.
Put another way and using Peters own terminology he discovered "It's all about families and foundation mares". We will add to this "and then it's all about breeding them to the best compatible stallion one can access and afford".
Bob Peters chose a path that would see him "in the game" for the "long haul" and with this he has acquired immense breeding knowledge so much so that today he is the envy of even the largest Commercial breeders in Australia.
Through nearly five decades of breeding from predominantly a half a dozen or so "foundation mares" and their families which he has patiently developed over time it is little wonder that Bob Peters draws the following accolades from some of the Industry's finest participants.
"Bob Peters is an unbelievable breeder, and anything that he is associated with is always of a high calibre, and we are just delighted to get her" the words of Tom Magnier ( Coolmore Stud )just after they had secured Celebrity Queen for A$2.5 million at the May 2021 Inglis Chairman's Sale.
"Bob is quite strategic, he's a long term thinker, and he's not after overnight results which I feel is one of the main reasons he has been so successful as an owner/breeder" the words of John Messara ( Arrowfield Stud ).
So what may be the key elements to Peters real success as a highly successful owner/breeder?
First and foremost, by breeding from your own mares and entering the long game ( breeding to race rather than breeding for the Sales ) you get to know your breed far more comprehensively in terms of the specifics of what each individual requires.
This may come about from identifying the weaknesses in her progeny as racing types and setting out to correct these in future stallion matings.
Conversely good quality racing types may highlight that a mare gets on particularly well with one stallion to entice multiple matings with that stallion. For example, Broadway Belle appears to have "clicked" with Pierro producing for Peters the top gallopers Action and Regal Power.
Some of Peters families he has been breeding for five generations now. They have stood the test of time.
This allows useful comparisons to be made with individuals within the greater family allowing identification of typical or non-typical traits and attributes, strengths and deficiencies, all of which add up to shaping potential stallion selection for each mare.
It is generally recognised that Bob Peters has been very conscientious with his matings and always paying attention to detail.
Like many breeders, in his formative years even Bob Peters had his favourites, many of which can still be found in the maternal pedigrees of his horses racing today.
For example, he liked mares by Metal Storm and Jeune ( both of whom carried the Nasrullah paternal presence through Grey Sovereign ) and also Marscay.
In more recent times we see the presences of More Than Ready ( he carries a favourable female balancing line of Northern Dancer ) and Redoute's Choice shining through in his mares. Both of these male presences have also acted as substantial upgraders for his families.
In the case of Redoute's Choice , from his early days at Stud, Peters was a keen supporter. He bred of raced six mares by this stallion ( Antique Belle, Broadway Belle, Galaxy Star, Perfect Jewel, Royal Star and Very Tempting ) to win 9 Stakes races between them with only Very Tempting not being out of a mare by either Metal Storm or Jeune, both favourite broodmare sires of Peters from the Nasrullah/Grey Sovereign sireline which he so admired.
Very Tempting was a $420,000 Magic Millions purchase and out of a More Than Ready mare, another favourite of Peters. She traced directly direct maternally to Federico Tesio's great mare Donatella ( her 6th dam ). No wonder Very Tempting won the 2017 Gr 3 WA Oaks with a pedigree backgound like that.
Al Maher has been another stallion well-supported in more recent times.
Rather than standing stallions at his own property "Yalebra" ( these days needed for his burgeoning band of broodmares along with young stock whilst others reside at Holbrook Thoroughbreds in the Hunter Valley ), Peters has elected to take shares in select stallions which currently include the likes of Vancouver, Xtravagant, Animal Kingdom, Dundeel and Tosen Stardom.
Whilst this policy has often been the downfall of many a breeder ( as it can limit flexibility of stallion choice ) this has not been the case for Bob Peters and his targeted breeding plans. As a group they represent the blend that Peters seeks for his families including some newly developing families outside of his "foundation families".
Bob Peters will be the first to concede that most of his breeding has been targeted towards middle distance but he is wise enough to confess that he has also bred a lot of apparent sprinting types ( particularly in more recent times ) or "turn of foot" types.
Regal Power has demonstrated the latter in his most recent Kingston Town Classic victory but one just gets the feeling here that such qualities are more demonstative of the way the overall breed is heading as more and more stallion's are being bred on speed/stamina crosses and vice/versa rather than being bred for outright stamina ( both sides of the pedigree ) or outright speed ( again via both sides of the pedigree ).
Bob Peters has never been scared of using good stallions to upgrade his families.And sometimes that means supporting the very best.
He has been a consistent supporter of the late Redoute's Choice since the early days of his Stud career and has at least six valuable fillies/mares by him that have nine black type credits amongst them.
Pierro is a good example of a stallion that Peters also identified early on as suiting his families and with which he was willing to chance his arm in his early days as an unproven stallion.
Peters has bred and raced Stakes winners Arcadian Prince and Action from his first crop and from his second crop Arcadian Queen and Regal Power.
From these outcomes Bob Peters has carved a reputation in the breeding industry as " a good man to assist a stallion" this being further evidenced by a stallion standing his 5th season in Australia in 2021 and desperately in need of a flagbearer in American Pharoah.
The Peters bred and owned Mrs America appears to have come along at just the right time whilst she also has a two year old brother and a yearling full-sister also waiting in the wings.
The majority of the Peters better racehorses that they have bred trace to the following six mares ( call them the Peters "foundation mares" if you like ) - Antique, Lady Ashford, Miss Margaret, So Stunning, Flaming Heart and Reflected Image.
Whilst all have contributed to the Peters cause, there can be no denying that Antique and Lady Ashford ( both born in 1999 ) have made the greatest contributions.
We will briefly look at the contribution each has made identifying the more notable performers from each stirp. This will be done via a chronological order via the birth date of each of the so-called "foundation mares".
Brief mention will also be made of some more recent families Bob Peters is also beginning to develop.
All this in Part II of our Bob Peters story.
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