Dawn of a new era for Prima Park

It’s an exciting time in Kelly Van Dyk’s life, with the Waikato horsewoman taking over sole charge of Prima Park, an equine operation established by her parents, Leighton and Louise Van Dyk.

Prima Park principal Kelly Van Dyk.
Prima Park principal Kelly Van Dyk. Picture: Trish Dunell

Established in 2010, Prima Park has had great success at both the yearling and ready to run sales over the last decade, with the highlight being the sale of subsequent dual Champion Hong Kong Sprinter of the Year Beat The Clock at New Zealand Bloodstock's 2015 Ready to Run Sale for $200,000.

Van Dyk is looking forward to her new challenge, particularly selling her first draft under her own name at the upcoming New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sales, with the breeze-ups having taken place at Te Rapa on Monday and Tuesday this week.

"I have taken over Prima Park as a sole director within the last few months, so that is really exciting," Van Dyk said.

"This draft at the Ready to Run Sale, as well as the Yearling Sales next year, will be the first that I offer under my own name, but I have kept with Prima Park, our brand and our established business.

"It was important to keep the name and reputation that we have worked hard to establish."

While Van Dyk has taken on full responsibility of the business, she said her parents are still there for guidance and support.

"They are taking a step back but are still very much involved behind the scenes and help out when I need them," she said.

"Dad is a very keen racegoer and punter, and still follows the industry very strongly, and Mum is the backbone of it all and is always a shoulder to lean on whenever I need it."

Hailing from an equestrian family, Van Dyk has been around horses her entire life and prior to entering the thoroughbred industry she competed to a high level in dressage.

"My grandfather was an owner-trainer and it all stemmed from him," she said.

"Mum rode and between her and her father, they produced some top event horses that went overseas and competed.

"I was in the saddle before I could walk and went through pony club and rode dressage to Grand Prix. I competed internationally before I could no longer fit it all in."

Van Dyk has been alongside her parents every step of the way with the development of Prima Park, and she has enjoyed watching it grow over the last decade.

"Dad left his family business with Van Dyk Furniture to start another one with Prima Park. It combined our passion and knowledge with horses," Van Dyk said.

"We started from the bottom, going to Karaka with just two horses and it has gone from there. We have built a reputable brand and have managed to increase our numbers year-on-year.

"We have opened the doors to many new clients which has been amazing."

With the sale of the Mystery Creek property that previously played home to Prima Park, Van Dyk has this year leased land off Waikato Stud until she can find a new property to base her new business from.

"We are operating out of Valleyfields for this season," she said. "We sold our farm at Mystery Creek to try and buy a bigger one. We are just in the process of trying to secure a bigger block for the future.

"Garry Chittick very kindly said that we could lease Valleyfields for the season. We have had a strong relationship with Waikato Stud throughout our time in the industry and they have been very good to us."

Van Dyk will offer an eight-strong draft at next month's New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale at Karaka on November 17 and 18, and she was pleased with the way they all breezed up at Te Rapa this week, including lots 226 and 241, the only two in the sale by Rich Hill Stud sire Shocking.

"They are for Gail Temperton, and they are homebreds of hers," Van Dyk said.

"Shocking is having his best spring yet with two flagship horses out there with Elephant and I'm Thunderstruck.

"They both breezed up beautifully. They are two really nice horses and I think they should be well sought after.

"One is a half to Pentathlon, so there is staying blood there."

While looking forward to the sale next month, Van Dyk already has her eye on the yearling sales next year, which she sees as a growing part of her business.

"We are probably going to do our biggest draft yet for the yearling sales, we are looking at around 25 next year," she said.

"It is incredible the amount of support we have had this season from outside clients. We have got a lot of new clients that have come onboard and we have some very exciting horses in our draft.

"We are selling the Burgundy half-sister to Entriviere on behalf of Mr (Kevin) Gray and also the full-brother to Group One winner Jennifer Eccles.

"We have got something for everyone in the draft, from Australian sires to New Zealand sires, with some really well-bred horses in there."
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