Vale, Ken Dean

Media Release - Wednesday October 13

Let’s face it, this industry can be a harsh mistress and only Black Caviar escapes with no breaks in the picket fence. That said, Victorian racehorse owner and breeding tragic, Ken Dean, was one lucky fella.

The late Ken Dean and partner Cathy Webb.

First horse he ever owned was Love Bandit who won a Brisbane Cup and finished third behind Beldale Ball in the 1980 Melbourne Cup.

No doubt wondering ‘how long this had been going on for’, his second horse was Lady Ice who won two stakes races, including the Kilmore Cup.

Somewhat emboldened, Ken thought he’d have a crack at the breeding caper and decided to buy two mares, Silent Squaw and Toolern Gold – both of them in foal. The resultant progeny became Golden Twig, a 2YO stakes winner on Oaks Day and the Group 3 Tranquil Star at three, while the other was aptly named, Touch of Genius, winner of a Blue Diamond Prelude as a juvenile before capturing the (now Group 1) Manikato Stakes later that year.

Unfortunately, it’s not a strike rate that can be maintained forever and Ken had his share of misfires in the four decades hence, but it’s definitely a start many an owner would offer up anatomy to replicate.

Sadly, Ken Dean couldn’t outrun the ultimate handicapper and died earlier this month at the age of 82, leaving behind long-time partner, Cathy Webb, three children and four grandchildren from his first marriage, and a host of good friends.


Ken was born in Richmond and, not surprisingly, became a lifelong Tigers fan. In fact, he showed some toe early on but a serious heart condition – diagnosed as a teenager – curtailed his blossoming footy career. His brother, Roger, however would go on to captain Richmond when they captured the flag in 1969.

Becoming a successful property developer, Ken would soon turn his eye to the neddies and as earlier stated, enjoyed a fair amount of success.

Ken purchased Tara Vale Stud at Monegeetta where he stood, initially, the imported stallion, Rustic Amber who produced just the seven stakes winners but three of them – Brawny Spirit, Rustic Dream and Marstic – all won Group 1s while Sequalo was a bloody good sprinter and subsequently the sire of dual Group 1 winner and leading sire, Spirit of Boom.

A downturn in the industry in the 1990s saw the closure and sale of Tara Vale, but Ken retained an interest in his stallions and, if anything, stepped up the pace.

By the mid 90s, he and Cathy – and Cathy’s mum, Merele, formed the Victorian Stallion Partnership – which managed the stud careers of stallions like Lacryma Cristi (whose first runner, Desert Angel, won the Listed Debutante Stakes), West Point, Special Bond, Estambul, Masterpiece, North Reef, Portland Pirate, Legion and Seul Amour.

However, believing that the market no longer really catered for their type of stallion, Ken and Cathy pulled up stumps on the Victoria Stallion Partnership in 2010.

Sure, they were never the top end of town, but define top end? After all, there were a lot of breeders who bred a lot of winners by those stallions and usually the only difference in life-changing celebrations is the price of the cork.

Although there would be no ‘super’ sales, Ken was quite proud of topping the Victorian weanling sales on a couple of occasions and, indeed, his last major hurrah was a foal he and Cathy sold for $70,000 at the 2015 Great Southern. That weaner – Sopressa – went on to win the Group 1 Schweppes Oaks in Adelaide and over $700,000 in stakes.

A lot of people new to the industry are probably unaware of Ken, but he really was quite the character and for this scribe at least, always a welcome sight at the sales or track. He had a genuine passion for the industry – for life generally – and could bend your ear at times, but such enthusiasm can be infectious.

His ‘advice’ might not have provided me with a Brisbane Cup winner, but I never lost from a chat with Ken. Always good for a laugh.

Ken forged many close friendships during his time in the breeding industry: the Johnsons at Ealing Park, the Buttlers and Burleys at Rangal, Don and Elizabeth Byrne at Eldon, Nev Murdoch at Larneuk, Barb Ivill from Little Plains …

Cathy will be holding a memorial ‘celebration’ for Ken early in the new year – after COVID restrictions have lifted – and if you’re interested in attending, you can get in touch with Cathy on 03 9736 9425 or



More Reading...
Breed to Race –A Golden Slipper Winning Sire for $4,400!
For breed to race broodmare owners on a tight budget the dream of breeding to a Golden Slipper winning sire might seem far-fetched, but it’s not.
24th G1 Winner for Savabeel
A picture-perfect ride by Danielle Johnson ensured quality staying mare Savy Yong Blonk was given every opportunity to succeed at Hastings on Saturday and she duly delivered with an outstanding victory in the Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m).
One To Watch – Moe
Zoustar is not a sire we think about when looking for potential Derby contenders, but if anyone can turn that thinking on it’s head it will be Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott.
Early Stakes Double for Sebring
Widden Stud’s much missed Golden Slipper winning sire Sebring posted an early stakes double with Daisies winning the Group III MRC Ethereal Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield quickly followed by Fangirl, who captured the Listed ATC Reginald Allen Stakes (1400m) at Randwick.
Abscond a Blue Hen!
A half-brother to Group I winner Invincibella and classy Group III winning stayer Secret Blaze, talented three year-old Extreme Choice colt Extreme Flight became the third stakes-winner for his dam Abscond when taking out the Listed MRC Gothic Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
Everest Sale Mail- Where Were the Runners in Australia’s Richest Race Sourced?
Australian investors have been very active in the past two weeks at the UK’s premier yearling sales Tattersalls October Book 1 and 2 reflecting a growing sentiment that it’s getting harder to find yearlings in this country with pedigree suggesting scope to run a mile and beyond, but if you’re in the market for a sprinter Australian sales are awash with opportunity.
Vale, Sir Dragonet
The Moonee Valley Racing Club (MVRC) is deeply saddened to report that reigning Ladbrokes Cox Plate champion Sir Dragonet sustained a fatal injury in trackwork at The Valley this morning whilst training for his title defence.
Is This the Next Derby Winner for Tavistock?
After Daisies flagged her Oaks credentials in the Ethereal Stakes, Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr look to have another Classic contender in the Victoria Derby-bound Gunstock following his strong-finishing win in the Group III Caulfield Classic (2000m).
Deep Field Sprinter Wins G3 Sydney Stakes
Trained by Mark Newnham, five year-old Deep Field gelding Big Parade has been allowed to develop his talented in the restricted grades and blossomed to win his first stakes race at Randwick on Saturday with a  stylish victory in the Group III ATC Sydney Stakes (1200m).
G3 Winner for Nechita
Group I winning Fastnet Rock mare Nechita topped the 2013 Magic Millions Broodmare Sale when selling for $1.55 million to Coolmore and her record at stud has improved considerably this year  with the arrival of two stakes-winners in Australian trained import Harpo Marx (IRE) and progressive Galileo mare Forbearance, who won the Group III Princess Royal Stakes (1m4f) at Newmarket overnight.