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Vale David Benjamin


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I read with tremendous sadness today of the passing of David Benjamin, one of the great personalities of NZ thoroughbred breeding and a hugely successful breeder and stud owner.
Remarkably I first met David 50 years ago - yes 50 years, that is not a misprint ! When I was 12 years old my parents had taken me on holiday to the Coromandel and as we were returning to Taranaki via Matamata I begged them to stop at Blandford Stud so we could see the stallions. Amazingly they conceded and we pulled in the entrance to be welcomed by a lovely obliging gentleman named Mr Benjamin who proudly paraded his two stallions, the rich chestnut Shifnal - the doyen of sires of 2yos in NZ at the time - and the silver tank known as Copsale, an unproven grey sprinter from England. I was so excited ! I still have the brochure Mr Benjamin gave me to take home....
When I entered the industry 15 years or so later I got to know David and his lovely wife Masey and relished every opportunity to spend time in his company. In November 2002 we purchased the stallion prospect Postponed (a 5/8ths blood-brother to Storm Cat) at Keeneland in Kentucky with the help of Gayle van Leer and Rollin Baugh. We had no idea where we would stand him but within an hour or so a phone call to David Benjamin saw 'Postie' destined for the Benjamins at Fayette Park, Matamata.
Postponed produced two of his 4 Group One winners from that first season with David and eventually we brought 'Postie' to Stoney Bridge when David retired from standing stallions. For those previous couple of years I was honoured that David asked for my input on mating advice for his stallions.
As mentioned by many others David Benjamin was a consummate marketer of his stallions and yearlings. His innovations were often outside the square and coupled with the man's superb intelligence and sharp wits and sense of humour, I am sure David convinced many a person to buy a yearling or a stallion nomination. His handling and promotion of Champion NZ Sire Grosvenor was of the highest order. A visit to Fayette Park always ended at the Benjamin's beautiful home for food and refreshment tinged with Masey's wonderful hospitality with that Kentucky touch of hers.
Last time I spoke with David was at the Karaka Sales where he was assisting Sir Peter Vela's Pencarrow Stud and was once again someone you just wanted to stay and chat with all day.
I know that David grappled with terrible ill-health for nigh on the past two decades but he was always cheerful and optimistic and of course strong as an ox. I was miss his smile, his wit, his wisdom and of course his often flamboyant dress sense.
David you will be sorely missed by everyone who knew you. Farewell my friend....
N.B. Photo courtesy of another good friend Trish Dunell, David wearing a Postponed cap I designed 🙂


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