Melton was once a thoroughbred horse industry capital, before losing its unoffical crown to Seymour. Cara Kavanaugh, of Cityview Farm in Toolern Vale, says she wants to revive the industry.
What’s your connection to Melton?
I grew up in Toolern Vale. I went to primary school at St Catherine of Siena Catholic Primary School and high school to Mowbray.
What’s your favourite thing about living in Melton?
The horses. I was lucky enough to grow up on an equestrian park and having the horses in my backyard. Both sides of my family were into horses. My grandfather, Jack Shelley, was a very famous trotting driver and he also lived in Melton, on Bulmans Road – he was like the Bart Cummings of the trotting world. That was my dad’s side. My mum’s side had an equestrian centre, and then I married into a horsing family – I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What would you change about the area if you could?
Twenty-years-ago, Melton was thoroughbred country and now Nagambie, Seymour have sort of appointed themselves as throroughbred country in Victoria. I’d love for [Melton] to be famous again. Our farms, pastures here are still the best in Victoria. I’d love to bring back what people think about us and then be the star of the show again.
Where’s your favourite place to hang out in Melton?
Bunnings. We’ve just done up our house, so we went there a lot. I’ve got a 10-month-old and three-year-old so we are on the farm a lot and during spring it’s our busiest time – so apart from doing the groceries, I’m here a lot and I’m happy to be here.
What kind of plans do you have to reclaim the thoroughbred country title?
There’s a handful of very successful farms here in the Melton, Toolern Vale area. So we’ve got to work together to promote that the area is the best place to breed – that’s definitely one of the things we need to do. It could be by doing simple things like a hashtag or key messages when talking to media – just little, simple things. If we had a budget, we could do a lot more in terms of marketing, advertising, bumper stickers, advertisements on specific racing channels. Right now, in the near future, it’s about working together, word of mouth and social media.
What do you do at Cityview Farm?
We have permanent mares … and we also have seasonal mares who are here just for the spring. They might live in South Australia, Queensland or even Western Australia.
People want their mare to breed with Victorian stallions. And we’ve also got some really good studs nearby … the really great thing about Melton is that we’re close to the big studs, the city and the airport.
What is so special about Victorian stallions?
First and foremost, there are a lot of great stallions in Victoria. Secondly, the racing is best in terms of prizemoney and opportunity. And thirdly, there’s a really good bonus scheme – so if you breed a horse to Victorian stallions, there’s great bonus prizemoney.
Why do you want to reclaim the title of thoroughbred country?
We believe it’s actually the best place for your horses to grow and develop – pastures are great and the climate is great. If we can have horses sent to our area, that would mean more horses and the more horses we have, the more staff we can employ.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to find out about you?
I have a forensic science degree with honours and a masters degree in animal science. My forensics degree always shocks people and I don’t really use it – I graduated with first-class honours and then I decided I love horses too much.