Village Jasper – you were perfect in every way

Back in the 1980’s, a few years before Village Jasper was born, a song was written and sung by an American Country music star called Mac Davis.

The song was titled ‘Oh Lord Its Hard to be Humble When You’re Perfect In Every Way’.

If the little black and beautiful horse called Village Jasper could sing, he would have given his Australian stablemate Art Major a rendition every day.

They both were adored champions at Alabar Bloodstock in Victoria – Village Jasper the senior of Art Major by some five years.  Jasper kept himself fit during the stud season by strutting up and down his fence in the paddock adjoining Art Major’s, taunting the mighty son of Artsplace.

Art Major loved nothing more than dozing and eating and only would raise his head from the grass as if to say to the cheeky Jasper – ‘Whats bugging you, you little flee’.

Well Village Jasper had the last laugh on his junior partner Art Major, achieving something that the $3 million man couldn’t – being the Champion Sire of Australia on two occasions – 2008/09 and 2009/10.

Now here is another feather in the cap of the beautiful black son of Jate Lobell – he is the Last Australian based stallion to win the Australian Sires’ Premiership.

The New Zealand based supremo’s Christian Cullen and Bettors Delight have worn the crown for the past 11 years.

Village Jasper passed away at Alabar Bloodstock’s lovely Farm in Northern Victoria on Tuesday March 29, not far short of his 28th Birthday on May 10.

Village Jasper, who was son of Jate Lobell from the Abercrombie mare Village Jewel spent all his younger days in Ontario, Canada.

He was owned and trained by the late Bill Wellwood – a Canadian Hall of Fame trainer with a reputation as a master horseman as well as being a tough son of a gun.

His daughter Paula is now an acclaimed trainer in North America, being one of only two females to train a Hambletonian winner.

“Village Jasper was always one of my favourites, he was such a beautiful horse,” said Paula last week after hearing the news of ‘Jasper’s’ passing.

“He thrived on racing as his three-year-old season progressed and kept getting better and better. His win in the Breeders Crown Final at Mohawk was simply awesome and exciting.”

That win in 1997 put the crowning glory on the one season career of Village Jasper. He smashed the Mohawk Track record that night in defeating the favourite Western Dreamer and the North America Cup winner Gothic Dream.

His driver that night and throughout most of that 1997 season was Paul MacDonell, who some 10 years later became the regular pilot of the superstar pacer Somebeachsomewhere.

Village Jasper became a pacing millionaire in just one season of racing – 30 starts for 14 wins and prizemoney of $1,057,595.

He was only a smallish horse, around 15 hands, so it was surprising he didn’t race as a two-year-old but Paula Wellwood has an explanation for this.

“He was showing some soreness in his knees early in the two-year-old season so Dad asked me to take him to the Vets to X-Ray the knees. The prognosis was to rest him so instead of taking him back to our farm, I took him to another farm to keep him out of Dad’s sight.”

Paula Wellwood, your decision that day may well have earned your Dad and your family a million dollars.

Village Jasper commenced a stud career at the famous Armbro Farm on the outskirts of Toronto in 1998. He was as mentioned earlier quite a cocky young man, self confidence was big in his repertoire.

He was especially keen in the breeding shed in that debut stud season and not long into the season his eagerness in getting to the artificial or phantom mare resulted in a badly ruptured penis. Hence many days were missed in getting his semen around Ontario which resulted in a disappointing number of mares being bred in that important first season.

Breeders seemed to shy away from Village Jasper in season two so in frustration his owner Bill Wellwood offered him for Sale to Alan Galloway and John Bagshaw in Australia.

The rest as they say is history and so in 1999 Village Jasper made his Aussie debut as a stallion at Alabar Bloodstock.  Aussie breeders welcomed him with loving arms and he bred well over 200 mares in that first season Down Under.

From that first crop emerged 15 colts and fillies who won in excess of $100,000 including colts such as Blatant Lie $410,403, Adams Mate $440,965 and the trotter Viva La Fever $349,576.

His very first Classic winner from that crop was the WA-owned filly Nemeeshar, who won the Bathurst Gold Tiara Final on March 29, 2003 (exactly 19 years to the day prior to his death).

So Village Jasper was on his way to becoming a most respected stallion in the Southern Hemisphere and then in 2008/09 winning the Australian Sires Premiership – a feat he repeated the following season 2009/10.

For the record he has sired 771 Australian-bred winners who have won $40.71 million between them (to April 4, 2022). In addition he sired a further 103 winners that were bred in New Zealand. Now the daughters of Village Jasper are making their mark on the harness industry in Australia with 430 winners being produced from them to date (April 4, 2022) with total earnings of $23.12 million.

Village Jasper was a little champion on the racetrack in Canada.  He was a champion sire in Australia. He was black and beautiful, he was smart, he was kind and he had a personality as big as himself.

To take another line from that Country song of the 1980’s – ‘To Know Me is to Love Me’.

Yes Village Jasper, you were ‘Perfect in Every Way’.

By John Coffey

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