Racing manager Olly Koolman (second from left) with some City Slickers Appeal Team members Carly Hopkins, and sons Sam 11 and Ethan 9, Wade LEstrange and Michael Fergusson.

Hermitage Thoroughbreds sends silage to drought-affected farmers

6 May 2019

HOW could the mighty Winx be linked in the same sentence as silage? Silage is a well-known livestock fodder that the mare will never be offered in her life.

But where the $26 million earning galloper has been spelling since she was a three-year-old – Hermitage Thoroughbreds on Sydney’s south-western outskirts at The Oaks, has opened its heart to drought-stricken farmers with a huge donation of silage.

The silage is home grown and produced, and thanks to the blessing of The Hermitage’s owner Hong Kong based Chinese businessman Eugene Chuang, the entire crop of about 600 bales is being donated.

The first of about three “uplifts” of silage – each containing around 200 large square bales, is scheduled to leave The Hermitage this Friday.

After seeing a recent drought relief fund-raising exercise at the Tamworth races Hermitage Thoroughbreds racing manager Olly Koolman decided to approach the Hawkesbury based City Slickers Appeal Team (CSAT) with the job of the silage’s distribution.

A recipient of a Hawkesbury Council Australia Day community organisation award, the CSAT team – which includes Wade L’Estrange, Carly Hopkins, Terry Boyle and Wendy Coaldrake, was initiated in August last year. It has since completed numerous runs to various drought areas across the State delivering anything from water, food hampers and Christmas gifts, to hay, dog food and diesel.

“We have four semi-trailers organised to collect approximately 200 bales from Hermitage on Friday,” said CSAT spokesman Wade L’Estrange.

“We are thrilled to have the support of The Hermitage and are excited to be able to assist approximately 10 farmers in the Upper Hunter Valley.”

“These trucks have been generously donated together with their time to assist us to make this (donation) happen.”

During Mr Chuang’s stay for last month’s Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale he was quick to agree to the silage donation, a thought process which began last year.

“We (farm employees) made a conscious effort through the summer period to spend the time and money to produce the fodder, and that we knew we did not need so there was always a thought of making a contribution,” Mr Koolman said.

While big name Australian bred racehorses including Winx, The Autumn Sun, and Egg Tart have been “tasting” some relaxation at The Hermitage, the 250 acres property was originally bought (in 2010) to give Mr Chuang’s Hong Kong racehorses a place to retire.

“We will then follow up these farms with another delivery in the weeks ahead to help them make it through another winter with no feed,” Mr L’Estrange said.

Mr Koolman hoped the silage would help take the farmers into spring, but added that due to a recent lucky break in the weather they would be making another cut shortly.

– Virginia Harvey, The Land