Graham “Jimmy” Lovatt will soon take over the reins as Stallion Manager at Darley in America as current Stallion Manager, Jim Zajic, will retire in the middle of July. Born in Australia, Jimmy has travelled within the world of Darley with stops in Australia, America, England and now back to America. We thought it would be interesting to catch up with him through a Q & A as he begins this new chapter in his life.
Inside Darley: Where were you born and in what year?
Jimmy Lovatt: I was born in Sydney, Australia, in 1978.
ID: Where did the name “Jimmy” come from?
JL: In the movie, The Man from Snowy River, the lead actor’s name in the movie was Jim Craig. From my horse riding skills at the age of five, my brother named me Jimmy after Jim Craig.
ID: What was your first job working with horses?
JL: I worked with yearlings at Widden Stud. I then travelled to Northern Ireland and worked the breeding season there in 2006. At the start of 2007, prior to Darley, I travelled again to Ireland and worked for a trainer, Myles Sunderland, brother of John Sunderland, General Manager of Darley in Australia. I’ve actually been riding since I was five years old. I have given riding lessons in the past primarily at a riding school in Sydney.
ID: How long have you worked at Darley?
JL: Since February of 2007. I began at Darley Australia then I “shuttled” to Jonabell in 2008, and then accompanied the shuttle stallions back to Australia for the 2008 season “down under”. I came back to America for the 2009 season with the stallions once again. Once the season ended at Jonabell, I was off to Brazil accompanying Elusive Quality to stand in that country. I was back to Jonabell in 2010 as Assistant Broodmare Manager then back to Brazil that year with Elusive Quality once again. In 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, I worked with the stallions at Dalham Hall Stud in England under Stallion Manager Ken Crozier. And now, of course, I’m back in America where I will take over for Jim Zajic as Stallion Manager in July. I worked alongside him for the 2015 breeding season as Assistant Stallion Manager.
ID: You’re soon to be headed back to Australia accompanying the shuttle stallions. Can you tell us a little bit about that process?
JL: I will be leaving with the four shuttle stallions on the 25th of July and will take care of them at the Syndey quarantine facility in Eastern Creek. I’ll then travel to the Hunter Valley with the horses and literally hand the reins over to the Stallion Manager at Aberdeen. I’ll then arrive back in the U.S. three weeks later.
ID: So putting you on the spot since you’ve worked at Darley around the world – name three of your favorite stallions to work with.
JL: Exceed And Excel, Bernardini and Elusive Quality. At 23 seasons, no stallion has covered as many breeding seasons back-to-back as Exceed And Excel.
ID: Where did you work prior to coming to Darley?
JL: Widden Stud in New South Wales in the Hunter Valley. I was there for six years and was involved in all aspects of the farm from breaking, managing mare and foal areas, managing yearling preparations, yearling sales, foaling and stallions.
ID: Can you tell us a little bit about your family?
JL: Well, I’m currently engaged to Emma Browne (employed at Darley in America). My father, John Lovatt, is retired and was the longest serving highway patrolman in New South Wales at 39 years. My mum, Patty, is just mum. I have a brother and one sister. My brother is a master farrier in New South Wales. My sister runs our family security business. One of the clients is Darley Australia.
ID: What are some of your favorite things about Australia?
JL: The weather (there’s no humidity in Oz) and the beaches. Vegemite (like a jam or marmalade). And it’s got the best beer in the world.
ID: What are some of your favorite things about England?
JL: The history.
ID: What are some of your favorite things about America?
JL: The weather as well – I do like having all four seasons. Mexican food. Convenience. Too many things to list.
ID: And last but certainly not least, can you comment on your team at Darley in America?
JL: I’m very grateful to come into what I perceived is the most experienced stallion team in the world. It’s also been an honor to have the privilege to work alongside Jim Zajic and to have the opportunity to pick his brains and learn about how he manages the stallions.