As a kid growing up on a cattle and sheep property at Collarenebri in northern NSW, the prospect of doing business in several different continents was never really a consideration. However, James Cutler’s life has been very interesting, extremely diverse and has taken him to all corners of the globe.
As a 10 year old boy he started breaking in his father’s horses and his love affair with all things equine began. But life had a lot of turns along the way. He went to Farrer in Tamworth for his secondary school education and football took over from horses as his main sport interest. This eventually led to 3 years playing for the Eastern Suburbs Roosters in the NRL.
During this time he did his B.Com (Accounting) at NSW Uni and worked at Deloittes in their Receivership and Reconstruction division. This position saw him sent to Macksville on the NSW mid north coast as the receiver representative for Midco, the local abattoir. He then stayed on as the accountant for the new owners, Mitsubishi. Being in the polocrosse mad Macksville, James inevitably ended up playing in the very successful Macksville teams of the 80’s and 90’s alongside the Donnelly’s, Trisley’s and Scott Welsh. The club was at an all-time high, being beaten only 5 times in 3 years.
Then in late 1995 he went to Lesotho, a land locked country in South Africa, as an accountant in a team for the World Bank to build an abattoir. Polocrosse again became his main sport and while in South Africa he represented South Africa in a test series against Zimbabwe in 1998. The series was played in Zim. As their collection of horses grew, reaching up to 30 horses on the feedlot just outside Maseru, Lesotho, and with polocrosse being “King of the One Horse sports”, James decided to start playing polo and with that came a career move full time into horses for the next 6 years.
Finishing the abattoir project, and moving to operate from Tweespruit in South Africa, he started finishing polo horses which were then sold onto Ireland and Europe. The business was starting to grow, but with an outbreak of African Horse sickness in the Cape Town quarantine station, everything stopped overnight. No horses could be exported and this dreadful fatal equine disease brought the horse industry to its knees.
James then moved his operation to Ireland where he concentrated on sourcing smaller unbroken thoroughbreds (15 to 16 hands) and breaking and training them for High Goal polo. This business saw him based in Ireland for the summers and Spain during the winters for the next 3 years. Carting 18 horses from Ireland to Spain across land and sea was a great experience. This was a 4 day trip.
- Day 1: Dublin ferry (the biggest in the World) to Wales, down through England to Dover. Yes, the white cliffs of Dover!
- Day 2: Dover ferry to Calais (France), down through France to Bordeaux.
- Day 3: Bordeaux to Madrid (Spain).
- Day 4: Madrid to Sotogrande (near Gibraltar), in the south of Spain.
One return trip from Cherbourg (France) to Rosslare Harbour (Ireland) direct, in the middle of the huge foot and mouth disease outbreak in England, was a 19 hour ferry ride, 7 hours of waiting on the dock for clearances and 6 hours driving. A total of 32 hours on the truck. The best day they ever did on this twice a year trip for 3 years, was the horses were only on the truck for 22 hours. Never once did they have a sick horse.
James has played polo in South Africa, Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Spain and Athens, Greece. As well as polocrosse in Zimbabwe, James has travelled extensively throughout Zambia and travelled to India and the US, mostly with horses or for the love of horses.
James and his Toprail Stud exported the first Australian Stock horse stallion to the African continent, as well as the first ASH stallion to Europe. Ranger in South Africa has produced some quality horses and now has a son siring prolific polo and polocrosse horses for the MacLarty family.
Home then called and in Sept 2001 it was back to Australia. Scone in particular, where James started with Primo and also reconnected with his love of breeding horses. He now has an extensive embryo breeding program, in conjunction with Diamond Genes, based in Shepparton, Vic.
James and the elite team of Toprail Equine riders are all now contributing to the design of working horse gear. Their knowledge and recommendations will be included in the lines of new products which are now being released.
James, his partner Stef and team Toprail Equine are very proud to be sponsors of Select Sires News section for the next 5 years. A formative partnership in the making!