Consistency and passion win the race

Top trainer Jason Bridgman

As one of New Zealand’s top horse trainers, Jason Bridgman’s philosophy of consistency saw him placed third in last season’s General Premiership with an exceptional SR of 5.50 and a high number of stakes winners including the G1 1000 Guineas with Costa Viva, who was also crowned NZ Bloodstock Filly of the Year for 2013/14.

Jason is entering his fifth season at Te Akau Racing Stables in Matamata, with around 70 horses working under his tutelage. His horses have won Group One races in the last four consecutive years, with Costa Viva, Spellbinder and Abidewithme some of last season’s star performers. Te Akau has claimed four other NZ Bloodstock Filly of the Year titles over previous seasons, bringing its total tally to five.

With a background in farming and agriculture, Jason has worked as both a trainer and rider throughout New Zealand and overseas, with stints in Japan, Europe, Australia and the United States. Back in New Zealand, Jason says his success is based on consistency and keeping it simple.

“I train 70 horses so can’t afford complicated systems. Having consistency in routine and feeding programmes gives everyone peace of mind. You need to be able to give horses stability and time to develop their strength and ultimately performance.”

He says the horses at Te Akau work hard, so it’s important for them to have the right feeding systems in place.

“Racing is demanding work so the horses really need to enjoy their diet – it’s important they want to eat what you’re giving them and maintain their appetite. And there can’t be any variation in the products or the horses notice and it has the potential to upset their appetite.

“We monitor feeding systems extremely carefully and are able to notice changes in horses’ behaviour and appetite, which gives us the ability to know when something’s not right.”

Jason says the evolution of forage products has seen an increase in quality over the years, making consistency easier to monitor.

“We use Fiber Fresh’s FiberEzy® which is a great fibre product. It’s a highly nutritional feed which we mix with our grain-based feed. It contains different blends of forage and because it’s a moist feed, removes the issues caused by dust – both for horses and staff.”

He says using their high nutritional fibre product for the past six years has added to our horses’ overall health, as well as increasing hydration to help with digestion.

“It provides a good base and balance, combining timothy and Lucerne – timothy, especially, is perfect for horses and it’s great to have access to it in New Zealand.

“We trust the feed we use that it’s the best we can buy – best fibre, best oats, best concentrates. We don’t use extra additives because the horses should be getting all the nutrients they need from their regular feed. The point is to keep it simple.”