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Stallion - Warrenbri Regal

Peter Knight

"As his owners gazed upon him
Though it didn’t bare reason or rhyme
They felt from the start
Right down deep in their hearts
That this colt was the one, this their time"

An excerpt from the poem "Warrenbri Romeo", written by Guy McLean © 2007

Within the Australian Stock Horse world, the great stallion, Warrenbri Romeo became a legend in his own lifetime.  The legend began at “Warrenbri”, Merah North, when Peter Knight, a keen campdrafter and horse breeding enthusiast, bred his mare Warrenbri Julie to the renowned sire; Reality. Julie’s dam was Kruette, a mare belonging to Peter’s uncle, Toby Knight and she was by the thoroughbred sire Lord Coronation owned by Ron Radford from nearby “Cubbaroo”. Competed by Peter, Julie attained open campdraft status and was also used by the Knight children as a Pony Club mount. Reality was by the great sire Dimray and Reality bloodlines have always been highly valued as he produced a number of other notable sires including Parkway Allaby, Hazelwood Texaco, Krui Roulette, Seventy Seven Revenge, Bates Little Joe and Luckenough Destiny to name just a few.

The joining of Julie to Reality produced three progeny, firstly two fillies and then in 1975, along came a bay colt, to be named Warrenbri Romeo. Peter Knight recognized the special qualities of this colt. It has been quoted that when Romeo was two years old, in reference to Romeo, Peter made this prophecy, “Its our turn, there’s no rhyme or reason for me to think this but I just know it’s our turn.” Truer words were never spoken. Romeo was sent to well-known horseman Ross Clarke of Murrurundi to be broken in and on his return he was ridden by various members of the Knight family and he soon proved to have those special qualities that make an outstanding campdrafter. Before long he was regularly winning and placing in campdrafts and then unfortunately an eye infection caused him to lose the sight in one eye and a very promising career was ended.

Romeo’s ability to compete himself may have been halted but not the influence he was about to exert in the Australian Stock Horse world as one of the outstanding sires of his generation. Before long the Knight family, using Romeo as a sire, produced the great performance horse Warrenbri Omega and Warrenbri Cassanova as well as a swag of young mares including Warrenbri Chorus Girl, Warrenbri Susan, Warrenbri Tondelao and Warrenbri Sharon, that were winning and placing in numerous drafts. The talented Hall family were also competing on some notable horses sired by Romeo including Bar None Omo, Hazelwood Lucky Strike, and the great performance mare and broodmare Hazelwood Romance.

Lindsay Knight and Warrenbri Omega were awarded Champion Working Horse at Sydney Royal on two occasions and it is notable that Hazelwood Romance, ridden by Christine Hall was Reserve and later on was to feature as Champion in this event. Another young sire by Romeo, Dr Jekyll competed by Ian Hyde also won Champion Led and Working events at Sydney Royal and the ASH Nationals.

The Romeo horses were proving to be outstanding campdrafters, with a great turn of speed, they naturally rated their cattle well. It is an incredible fact that in 1990 at the Warwick Gold Cup, seven of the fifteen finalists were sired by Warrenbri Romeo. Notably Warrenbri Omega, ridden by Lindsay Knight finished first, Bar None Omo ridden by Terry Hall was second and Hazelwood Lucky Strike ridden by Christine Hall was third while Warrenbri Chorus Girl, again ridden by Lindsay Knight finished in fifth place. The one thing that marred this achievement was that after a long illness the founder of these great horses, Peter Knight, passed away prior to the event, but he must surely have known that his prophecy was being fulfilled. Peter’s untimely death left a void in the North West Branch of the Australian Stock Horse Society as he been a staunch supporter since its inception, having fulfilled the role of Branch Classifier and President and he was also Chairman of the NSW Management Council for a period.
Progeny of Warrenbri Romeo are still consistently featuring in the finals at Warwick. It is worth noting that in 1997 Cwmteg Arnold ridden by Tim Williams also won the Gold Cup and in 2001, another Romeo horse Kinchela Romeo’s Repeat ridden by Peter Cookson won the stallion draft and recently a grandson Chevin Ivory owned and competed by Nigel Kable twice won the stallion draft at Warwick and also that event at the 2004 National Championships.

During the late 1980’s and 1990’s, breeders were vying to breed or purchase horses by this great sire and this was reflected in sale prices for Romeo bloodlines. Following Peter’s death, Romeo stood at open stud to the public for a few years and in his last open season in 1995, his service fee was $2,000, which still did not deter a number of breeders. After this Romeo was used as a sire privately by the three brothers, Simon, Lindsay and Jeremy Knight in their respective studs on occasions the Knight Family donated services to Romeo to be auctioned on behalf of cancer research. This action was prompted in honour of the memory of their father, the late Peter Knight. These services were in high demand and it has been  reported that proceeds from such auctions resulted in services reaching up to the amazing figure of $6,500.Currently the online stud book for the Australian Stock Horse Society has listed 558 registered progeny for Warrenbri Romeo.

Romeo’s appeal has never waned, and his progeny have consistently reached top prices. At the annual Dalby sale, which is a barometer of values for popular bloodlines, Romeo progeny have regularly reached prices ranging in the $20,000’s to $30,000’s range for the Knight family and at the National Led Yearling sale, youngsters reflecting these bloodlines have been keenly sought after in the bidding ring. At the 2001 Dalby sale, a young Romeo mare, Soda Marion offered on behalf of Lindsay and Jan Knight sold to Acton Land & Cattle Company for the record price of $49, 000.

In the spring of 2001, Simon and Bridget Knight hosted an Open Day and on property reduction sale at their property located in the Condamine area of Queensland. Simon proudly displayed his stallions Warrenbri Warrego, Warrenbri Roman Oak and Warrenbri Regal, all reflecting the famous Romeo bloodlines, but his greatest pride was in presenting the grand old horse Warrenbri Romeo to be led around the ring. The many Australian Stock Horse enthusiasts, who were present for the sale, were privileged to witness the last public appearance of this great sire at 27 years of age. He was in immaculate condition and although with age he was showing some sign of stiffness in his hindquarters, he carried himself proudly round the ring reflecting that he was a true champion.  The 2nd of July that followed in 2002, proved to be a heart-wrenching day for Simon and the members of the Knight family, when that dreaded time had arrived to say goodbye to a faithful and much-valued old friend.

Not only was Romeo treasured as a sire himself but he has influenced stud breeding through succeeding generations. The highly performed Omega has proved to be an outstanding sire, winning the ACA sires ratings for three successive years and his progeny reaching consistently high prices in the sale ring with Warrenbri Eve, owned by Huon Smith, purchased by Acton Land & Cattle Company for the top price of $47,500 at the 2003 Dalby ASH sale. Other progeny of Omega including Lindsay Knights own Soda ORiley ,  Kirkbys Stud Officer, Kirkbys Stud Echo and the ill-fated Five C’s Cleartime have all performed extremely well, while the colt Kirkbys Stud Theo owned by the Barnett Family and performed by Allan Wallen, blitzed the field to take out the three year old ridden Futurity at the 2004 National Championships.

Many of Romeo’s other sons and daughters are still performing well today. Lindsay is another outstanding campdrafter and sire, having produced the brilliant young campdrafting stallion Chevin Ivory. Although almost too numerous to mention, some other performers of note are the stallions, Wiljohn Roman, Nevlyn Joseph, Cwmteg Willus, Palmers Navaho, Condamine Romano, Ahwahnee Condor, Knights Top That,  Knights Reverend and Knights Nicholas,  which won the Commonwealth Bank Star of the Year and was High Point Horse at the 2003 National Championships at Warwick. Notably the last three of these stallions carry Jeremy and Julie Knight’s stud prefix.

Just to prove the versatility of this breed, C.D.Rom (which is a full brother to Jeremy Knight’s Augustus) won a Reining Championships while Kirkby’s Stud Remedy, who also sired Futurity and Maturity winners, won the prestigious Cloncurry Challenge. Regrettably some Romeo sons have met untimely deaths including the highly performed Reo belonging to the Elliot family, while McNamara Acrobat owned by the McNamara family and Mark & Joanne Field’s Ocean Wave met their demise just as they were reaching a very promising point in their respective careers. It is noteworthy that a granddaughter of Romeo, Tecoma Georgia, sired by McNamara Acrobat was sold at the 2004 Dalby sale for the outstanding price of $29,000, while another Romeo granddaughter Nandeye Reflect sired by Ocean Wave and campaigned by Michael Wilson was awarded the Prince of Wales trophy for outstanding performance in 2003 and was also Supreme Working Horse at the 2004 National Championships. Many Romeo mares are breeding on well also with the highly performed Hazelwood Romance having produced campdraft winners.

Warrenbri Romeo and Peter Knight may both have gone to their rest but individually they have both provided inspiration to breeders throughout the Stock Horse world. It is an expectation that in years to come Romeo will join the other immortal sires that have had such a significant impact on “the breed for every need”.  The bloodlines of this great sire will continue to be prized and the Romeo legend will live on through future generations.

I am indebted to the following people for photographs and information:
Lindsay and Jan Knight
Jeremy and Julie Knight
Simon and Bridget Knight
Joy Poole (OAM) Article on Warrenbri Romeo –ASHS Journal –Jan/Feb 2002
Australian Stock Horse Society

This tribute was written by Judy Fields.

Photos

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