Passion is Set Alight


Success stories in this industry is made up of good luck, good timing and dreams come true and that's certainly the case for Gympie breeder Sheena Avison from Visona Lodge.

As as young girl Sheena dreamed of owning a horse and would ride her bicycle alongside her friends as they rode their ponies. It wasn't until retirement, twenty years ago that her dream came to fruition, but it wasn't as simple as just buying a horse...

Sheena and her husband cared for foster children and one of those children stole $6,000 worth of jewellery - neither to be seen again. When Sheena claimed the insurance she decided that instead of replacing the rings she would finally follow her lifelong dream and buy a horse.

When she was looking for a trusty steed, Sheena fell in love with a thoroughbred mare called Southern Saint who was in fall to Lonhro's brother, Niello. But at $24,000 Southern Saint was very much out of Sheena's price range.

"But I had to have that horse," said Sheena.

"Sometimes in life you feel guided towards something and this mare had jumped out at me, I knew I had to have her."

So Sheena sold her car and other bits and pieces to make up the $18,000 shortfall and take Southern Saint home to her property in Far North Queensland. She foaled Visona Rose who was trained by Stuart MacKinnon and recorded seven wins, three seconds and three thirds for twenty three starts before a torn tendon ended her racing career.

But Sheena and her husband now had 'the bug' and decided to start breeding. They relocated to Gympie to be closer to the market and took a share in a new stallion that had come to stand at Willowbend Stud called Set Alight. Unfortunately Southern Saint missed that season and the following year Set Alight resumed racing.  The Avison's decided to sell their share in him as they were interested in a stallion to breed with, not race.

But they followed his career and were impressed that he could return to the track and set a new class and track record before his owners decided to once again retire him from racing.

As was the case with Southern Saint, Sheena sould not get Set Alight out of her mind and was determined to track him down. They made a 'ridiculous offer' and were able to take him home to start breeding with their small band of mares. That crop are now yearlings.

This is the first season that they have offered Set Alight as a commercial stallion and he will stand at Craiglea Stud.