A Family Affair at Devon Oaks, Cambridge

Thoroughbred Racing – A Family Affair at Devon Oaks, Cambridge

By Jill Lunn

The Team at Devon Oaks in Cambridge has years of experience as a family whose life revolves around racing and racehorses. I took some time to talk with Janenne Dalley, licensed trainer, about the work they do.

A journey to licensed racehorse trainer and the family’s involvement in thoroughbred racing.

Janenne’s early days were spent on a sheep and cattle station at Matawai, north of Gisborne. Horses were a large part of life for all family members as her father, Bruce Macdonald. had grown up with horses in Gisborne. Bruce’s Dad was Alf Macdonald, a licensed horse trainer in Gisborne who had much success as a trainer.  Bruce and family moved to Cambridge and set up this property, naming it Kings Ransom Lodge, in 1978, after a very good horse that Alf trained called Kings Ransom. He developed the property so it was purpose built for the early education of horses, and he also had much success as a thoroughbred horse trainer.  Janenne rode work for Bruce from 13 years of age and she also rode trackwork for several other trainers. The opportunity to ride such good horses as McGinty in her teenage years cemented for Janenne that she wanted to be a trainer of racehorses. During her teenage years Janenne moved back to Gisborne to ride work for her grandfather, Alf, and conditioned horses on the beach.

Tarissa Macdonald, Janenne’s sister, also rode work for Bruce and became apprenticed to Bruce at Kings Ransom Lodge. As a senior jockey she rode in Australia and also travelled with Ross Eliott to take Rough Habit to Japan for the Japan Cup, going back there to ride trackwork. She is a licensed trainer and trains nearby to Devon Oaks.

Janenne’s husband, Andy Dalley, came to New Zealand from England where he had worked for several trainers. He began work with Bruce Macdonald and has now had 40 years’ experience as a horse breaker, educating horses for racing, with the last 31 of those years being in New Zealand. He met and married Janenne and all their family have been involved in the racing business in one way or another. They purchased the property Bruce set up and renamed it Devon Oaks and have carried on their business from there.

Janenne’s oldest son, Rory Macdonald is a well reputed farrier who, after six successful years in Singapore working as a farrier for the Singapore Jockey Club, is now the resident farrier for Cambridge Stud. Rory’s business is called “Kings Ransom Forge”, after the horse Alf trained. Rory’s paternal grandfather, Frank Hollis, was a well-known farrier in Gisborne, and with Rory’s knowledge and skills so highly regarded, he is very much sought after by Waikato trainers. He also does all the farrier work for Devon Oaks.

Another son, Ethan Dalley, was an apprentice jockey until injury and weight got the better of him. Ethan also works at Devon Oaks helping with educating and training the horses, as well as riding the racehorses in their work on the property. He trained as a horse chiropractor under Ken Butler in Sydney, Australia, and then back in New Zealand under Graeme Boyd. He has established his own business “Equitouch” where he works with horses from all codes. Ethan’s wife, Lucy, is also a rider and she, too, rides at Devon Oaks.

Joshua Dalley is another son who was a track rider in Cambridge and Southland before setting himself up as a fencer in Southland.

Natalya Dalley, Janenne and Andy’s daughter, is a nutritionist and personal trainer who runs her business “Nutrafit” in Cambridge. Among her clients are participants in the Equine Industry.

The family involvement goes even further – Tayla Mitchell, apprentice jockey, is Tarissa Macdonald’s and Todd Mitchell’s daughter, and she rides work and race day for Janenne as well.

It truly is a family affair and their collective wisdom works to the betterment of the individual horses in their care.


Jockey Tayla Mitchell

Jockey Tayla Mitchell


The complete horse experience at Devon Oaks

Devon Oaks is a 30-acre property on Settlement Road in Cambridge that has 22 boxes, eight sand yards, a safe breaking-in arena, and a 900-metre sand track. Educating the horses in a calm and secure way is important to both Andy and Ethan, and this ensures that Janenne is provided with a responsive horse for training as a racehorse.

Many horses are educated with Devon Oaks to the point of running along at the ready to runs for sale, after which they are sold. The horses usually have six weeks of learning under the saddle and then six weeks of pretraining. This service is provided for some of the well-known horse establishments in Cambridge.

Ownership and breeding of Thoroughbreds

Tarloshan is a mare Janenne, Andy and long-time friend Graeme Boyd bought and raced. She ran successfully in Australia and is now back in New Zealand ‘breeding on’. There is a daughter of hers – Charlotan – breeding in Australia.

Other progeny of Tarloshan include:

  • A colt by Shocking that was sold through Karaka to Australia.
  • A colt by Satono Aladdin that was sold through the Magic Millions Queensland sales in Australia.
  • A 3YO filly by Satono Aladdin that they will race themselves.
  • A rising 2YO filly by Almanzor that they will also race.
  • The youngest progeny is a colt by Hello Youmzain who will be sold through the sales.

High performing thoroughbreds that have had their early education at Devon Oaks

Janenne and Andy follow many of the horses that have come through their property as part of their early education, and it gives them a great thrill to see them win. There is a long list of those that have gone on to be highly successful – horses such as Surround, Silver Nymph,  Pays Anne, Bound to Honour, McGinty, Taituru, Kenzei, Sunline, Gee I Jane, Gingadude,   Honour Bound, Veyron, Lights of Heaven and, more recently, Mr Brightside and Destinys Delight, to name a few.

The current racing team of thoroughbreds

Devon Oaks provides a full service for handling young horses through to training a few select racehorses. Currently Janenne has four horses in full work with others at various stages of spelling or pretraining. While not having a large team, Janenne has an amazing strike rate. This shows in Pearl Series races with six starters for four winners, one second placing and one unplaced, which is an impressive 66% strike rate.

On Saturday 1st July 2023, Janenne started two mares at Ruakaka – Impresa and Imprevu – and they both finished a creditable fourth. It was Impresa’s first start for six months and a credit to Janenne to enable her to run fourth in a Rating 75 1200m sprint. Imprevu started up in grade in the Open Waipu Cup over 1400m and for her to run fourth again against such highly credentialled horses as Not Ideal demonstrates the skill of those involved with the educating of horses at Devon Oaks.

All members of the family take great pride in their horse education achievements and the success rate shows these are happy horses that are very well cared for and educated in this boutique operation.