It is one of the district’s most significant and picturesque properties. A leading thoroughbred stud it also breeds high-grade Wagyu beef and boasts the largest vineyard in the region producing premium wines, as well as onsite Cellar Door operations, events and tours.
It began development in 1979 when Filipino billionaire businessman, Eduardo Cojuangco Jnr, bought three historic acreages, ‘Cullenbone, ‘Biraganbil’ and ‘Galambine’ and merged them into a beautiful, productive enterprise. He named it ‘Gooree Park’.
And now that will be the name inscribed on many rugs and trophies as the stud has come on board to support TSHA events.
Michelle Barrera-Juban is a member of the Cojuangco family, and a management trainee at Gooree. She has been a medal-winning international showjumper and is presently the secretary-general of the Equestrian Association of the Philippines.
“The stud was owned by my late grandfather,” she said. ‘And it was in Mudgee that I started to ride. Our first trip to Australia was in 1993 and grandfather told the stud mistress, Vikki Cannon, who’s now retired, that he wanted his grandchildren to like horses. She took us for a couple of rides and the three of us became addicted.”
(Michelle’s very first ribbon was a third placing in a preliminary test at the Mudgee Dressage Club).
“Our World Championship and Olympic dreams were also born in Mudgee. We watched ‘Cool Runnings’ in an old movie theatre and that night went back to the farm and announced we wanted to train all the way to the top. Grandfather never believed in giving us things on a silver platter and told us to keep working at it. His dream was for us to train on his ex-racehorses and make them into champions, and we did do that with a few of them.”
For ten years Michelle trained with Vicki Roycroft.
“I first met her when I was about 12, she was conducting clinics in the Philippines and later I worked with her in Australia; I also trained with Chris and Helen Chugg.
“Helen’s like my second mother.”
In recent months Michelle has done very little with horses.
“I occasionally ride around the farm and have been on some of my husband’s polo ponies, but that’s about all.”
Her husband, film producer Lope “Jun” Juban Jr, heads Philippine Film Studios Inc.
“We’re presently doing all the videos for Gooree, which has gone from private to commercial, and we’re helping with the rebranding. I’m also in the office and on the farm doing a bit of everything such as marketing, administration and sales preparation of yearlings. I was witness to all that as a child, but now I’m exposed to it in a different light.”
Needless to say she is an active supporter of Life After Racing.
“In the Philippines we have a program with the FEI for the retraining of racehorses. And groups like the TSHA here in Australia are fantastic, Gooree Park’s looking forward to sponsoring this Association’s showjumping classes at the Mudgee Show in March.
“It’s so important to give OTTs another chance.”
SUZY JARRATT – February 2021