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Meridian Scaling Back Alberta Operations

Published: September 11, 2019 5:28 pm ET

Last Comment: September 12, 2019 1:17 pm ET | 2 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

William ‘Bill’ Andrew, co-owner of Meridian Farms, one of the largest commercial Standardbred breeding operations in Canada, has informed Trot Insider that Meridian has begun the process of scaling back its breeding operation in High River, Alberta.

Andrew has told Trot Insider that the Alberta nursery is reducing its stallion roster, selling off its broodmare stock, and raising its final crop of 21 weanlings, which are being pointed to auction at the 2020 Alberta Standardbred Horse Association Yearling Sale.

Earlier this week, Meridian stated that it would like to “thank our many clients for their support over the years, as well as our dedicated staff, service providers and suppliers."

Bill Andrew

Andrew explained to Trot Insider that the recent passing of his brother, Brian, and the subsequent winding down of Meridian’s operations at its home farm in Milton, PEI has played a notable role in the decision. Meridian also conveyed that it did not experience a strong market for its yearlings at the recent ASHA yearling sale, which was also a factor in the announcement.

“Meridian will be retaining two stallions in Alberta, Vertical Horizon and Westwardho Hanover,” said Andrew, who also noted that the Alberta farm is “in the process of negotiating for a third stallion.”

In terms of Meridian’s Maritimes operation, stallions Pang Shui and Tad The Stud will remain with the Gass Family at Dusty Lane Farm on PEI.

Meridian’s impact on the Canadian racing scene has been significant since the early 2000s. In 2019 in Alberta alone, Meridian stallions bred 147 mares.

“We’re currently in the process of dispersing our broodmares,” said Andrew. “We had 27, but we have sold four already, so we’re down to 23.”

Andrew explained that he will still be racing some stock in Alberta and in the Maritimes.

“I’m currently racing a few horses on the east coast with my younger brother, Rollin, and we’re having a good time with it,” said Andrew, who also stated that he is planning on racing four or five horses in Alberta for the foreseeable future.

Bill Andrew (centre), pictured accepting his Cam Fella Award in 2016.

Andrew, originally from Clinton, Ont. and now a resident of Calgary, Alta., has been involved in harness racing since he purchased his first yearling in 1990. His focus shifted from racing to breeding in 2003 and since that time he has made a tremendous impact on the Canadian Standardbred industry, especially in Alberta and on Prince Edward Island.

Aside from being a leading breeder in those two provinces, Andrew has given much back to the racing industry he loves, through charitable projects and financial contributions. In 2015, Andrew was awarded Standardbred Canada’s coveted Cam Fella Award for meritorious service to the Canadian Standardbred industry. He has financially supported the Atlantic Sires Stakes trotting events, Truro Raceway and the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition Select Yearling Sale at Truro Raceway. Andrew initiated the Fun For Fans Stables and the Hurrah For Charity Stable where earnings from his horses in the stable benefitted a different charity partner each month. Andrew has also donated the proceeds from the sale of yearlings to community projects, and continues to financially support PEI’s Matinee Racetrack Development Project where children learn horsemanship skills so that they can possibly make the transition to larger tracks and eventual full-time employment in racing.

In recognizing his tremendous impact and contribution to the nation’s harness racing industry, Andrew was enshrined into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2018

Bill Andrew (right), pictured during the 2018 Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

In discussing Meridian’s decision to take a step back in Alberta, Andrew stated that he might be boarding some mares to keep around, and that future plans could be made in terms of breeding them at some point, but he was non-committal, citing a variety of factors.

“I’ve been lucky in my career and lucky in western Canada,” said Andrew. “When it comes to the future of the racing industry in Alberta, I believe all the tools are there right now for it to prosper, but I think it just needs a bit of help from the economy.”

September 12, 2019 - 1:17 pmWell said Nancy... a class

Ross Sharp SAID...

Well said Nancy... a class group of people to deal with.

September 12, 2019 - 11:28 amThis will definitely leave a

This will definitely leave a huge hole in the Alberta breeding world. The knowledge, kindness, and support small breeders like myself have received from Bill and Terry has been invaluable to say the very least. Meridian Farms has played a huge role in keeping harness racing going in western Canada and it is hoped Bill and Meridian don't completely close their doors in future years.

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