He had fast horses – but no fast cars 

Peter Setchell “did right by the breeding industry”. 

Cambridge based Peter Setchell, founder and former proprietor of Millfield Stud, has died after battling cancer.

His funeral service was scheduled for today at the Woodside Estate in Matangi.
Setchell, his late brother Graham and sister Jan Mullane, came to New Zealand from New Guinea in 1940 when Peter was just two-years-old. Their father, an English cobra plantation planter, sent his wife and children to New Zealand to avoid the conflict with the Japanese. He was  never able to follow his family.

They lived in Auckland where the children were educated. On leaving school the brothers ventured into farming, working in the Bombay and Waikato areas before buying an undeveloped 80ha farm in Wardville, north of Matamata, and establishing Millfield Stud in the 1970’s.

It was from this farm that they struck gold with an English broodmare Pacaya who left six winners including Society Bay who won six races including the Gr.2 VRC Edward Manifold Stakes and Gr.2 MVRC Verve Clicquot Stakes.

She also ran second in the Gr.1 QTC Stradbroke Handicap and went on to leave Society Beau, a multiple group winner of 12 races, and Sandblaster, a listed winner by a Millfield resident stallion Sandtrap.

Pacaya also left the stakes placed winner Sacaya who was the dam of the crack filly Duanette’s Girl, a stakes winner of nine races who was Group One placed.

In the early days of Millfield Stud Setchell also bred the Sydney Cup winner Oopik, and in the next decade he achieved one of the highest accolades in breeding – breeding an Australian Horse of the Year which he achieved with Red Anchor. The son of Sea Anchor and Decoy Girl won nine races from 14 starts, including the Gr.1 VATC Caulfield Guineas, Gr.1 MVRC W.S Cox Plate and the VRC Victoria Derby in the spring of 1984.

Setchell was a successful breeder who stuck to his breeding principles and didn’t always follow the more fashionable and commercial lines.

This was reflected in some of the stallions that stood at Millfield including Ward Drill and Sandtrap. Over the years he also had shares in a number of successful stallions including Zephyr Bay and Centaine.

It was a son of Sandtrap in Indikator that provided Setchell with a huge amount of joy in his latter years. Trained by his old friend Keith Opie, Indikator won 18 races including three over hurdles. He won the Gr.3 Rotorua Cup three times, and the Kiwifruit Cup twice.

Fellow breeder and great friend Scott Williams described Setchell as a very frugal and economic person.

“He may have had a fast racehorse from time to time, but he never had a fast car,” Williams said.

“He was a man of frugal means who did right by the breeding industry and a lot of his estate is going to animal charities.”

Setchell gave up standing a stallion a number of years ago and he and his partner Margaret moved to Cambridge around seven years ago. He is survived by Margaret and his sister Jan Mullane. – NZTBA

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