Industry mentors: Damon Gabbedy

6 min read
Continuing our series on mentors in the thoroughbred industry, we talk to Belmont Bloodstock Agency principal Damon Gabbedy about major influences throughout his career.

Damon Gabbedy’s thoroughbred world has expanded to a truly global business and he’s forever grateful to the people that influenced his career as an international bloodstock agent.

Never in his wildest dreams did the kid from Perth expect to not only have the respect of his Australian peers, but also those on the world stage. Living the life of riley is a phrase that springs to mind for the principal of the Melbourne-based Belmont Bloodstock Agency.

“I’m Western Australian-born and bred. My Dad was a wool buyer and when I was about 10 years of age he went out and came back with a yearling,” Gabbedy said.

“I started going with him to the races and the sales. All my old man’s spare cash, much to my mother’s horror, went on racehorses and yearlings.

“All my old man’s spare cash, much to my mother’s horror, went on racehorses and yearlings.” – Damon Gabbedy.

Damon with parents Doris and John Gabbedy

“When I was growing up my mother used to say if I could remember school stuff like I could remember details about horses, jockeys and pedigrees then I’d be a genius.

“Of course, school work wasn’t that interesting and your hobby is. I was totally fascinated and captivated by it. Quite frankly, I feel very lucky and blessed that my passion is my job.”

Pedigrees the hard way

Following the vital first racing influence of his father John, Gabbedy ‘did the right’ and went to University to complete a marketing degree.

“That was very boring and I went to get more experience at Goodwood Bloodstock, which was run by John Chalmers,” he said.

“I got work experience there during the summer holidays and what started out for two weeks ended up the whole eight weeks.

“I kept going back and they ended up creating a position for me in the pedigree department.”

There Gabbedy came under the wing of Simon Vivian, Inglis’ Victorian Bloodstock Manager.

“He taught me pedigrees. In those days we had to hand write the catalogue, every single pedigree in the book, so it was a fantastic way to learn,” he said.

Simon Vivian

“You have to look up the Stud Book, the race results and then write this is their fourth foal or third foal. It was a long, laborious task. I worked with Simon for four years and, certainly, he was my first mentor. I was pretty raw and didn’t come from a farm or anything, I had a city background.

“I worked with Simon for four years and, certainly, he was my first mentor.” – Damon Gabbedy.

“He taught me all about pedigrees and bloodstock. I did five years and you could probably describe it as hard labour at Goodwood Bloodstock.

“I was a bit burnt out to be quite honest, not having time for holidays so I took time off and went to Europe.”

First days at Belmont

Gabbedy was able to gain further experience at Tattersalls and while overseas, he received an approach from home.

“There was a company in Perth called Belmont Bloodstock, which was created by Debbie Evans,” he said.

“Debbie tracked me down and offered me a partnership deal so I came back. When you work for auction houses and do pedigrees and then start to sell to make commissions for other people, you think why aren’t I doing this for myself.

“She was my next mentor and great influence in my bloodstock career.”

Damon meets Frankel during one of his international trips

Evans showed Gabbedy another side of the business and one he was to put to excellent future use.

“In auction houses you give a lot of free advice and Debbie taught me the commercial side of things,” he said.

“Debbie is one of the sharpest and most intelligent people I’ve ever met. She taught me to be a lot more savvy commercially.”

“Debbie is one of the sharpest and most intelligent people I’ve ever met.” – Damon Gabbedy.

After working side by side for 10 years, there was another twist in the bloodstock path for Gabbedy with the Western Australian market significantly dampening down.

“I moved from Western Australia to Victoria. We were doing a lot more work over the phone and fax and thought to get ahead I have to move,” he said.

Inspections in Deauville, France

“Debbie’s life changed direction and she had a baby. She handed the business over to me and I moved to Melbourne and it’s my 21st year in Melbourne.”

And those two decades have again brought major changes to the business.

“It doesn’t matter where I’m standing, with mobile phones it is a global business,” Gabbedy said.

“The sales’ circuit is now getting longer and bigger as well. You start in January at the Gold Coast and if you do everything there’s the Classic, New Zealand and I do Perth, Tasmania, Adelaide and through to Easter. You don’t get much rest and then it’s off to the broodmare sales.”

Belmont Bloodstock is an all-encompassing agency, covering all buying and selling bases through to planning stallion matings for clients. The business also has a major international presence.

“I was lucky and represent the French auction house Arqana in Australia and that’s been fantastic for me,” Gabbedy said.

“That takes me to Europe twice a year and has given me exposure on the world stage. When I was a kid I’d read about the Aga Khan and all sorts of famous breeders and now I’m going to their farms.

“I would never have thought as a little kid from Perth I’d be there, it’s fantastic.” – Damon Gabbedy.

“It’s a dream come true really and I went to the Arc last year. I would never have thought as a little kid from Perth I’d be there, it’s fantastic.

“It’s a great industry that brings together people from all cross sections of life.”

A different perspective

Another mentor later in life whose advice Gabbedy has benefited from is Sydney real estate agent Bob Guth.

“His passion is racing and breeding and I’ve been great friends with Bob and his wife Fiona,” he said.

“He’s one of Sydney’s leading real estate agents and I’m a bloodstock agent so the synergies are quite similar. He’s been very helpful offering a different point of view on how to deal with people, getting listings and then marketing them.

“It’s the same business, just different commodities. He’s been a terrific influence.”

Damon and Bob & Fiona Guth

From father John, to Simon Vivian, Debbie Evans and Bob Guth, Gabbedy has been served well by his mentors to the stage now, in his own words, he is living the dream.