Leonard Russo was born in 1979, the first child of Michael and Maria Russo and one of three brothers. Not coming from a racing background it was Leonard’s ventures out to the track with his Dad that ignited his passion for the ‘Sport of Kings’!
Growing up his favorite horse was the Jim Conlan trained Excited Angel, and for a period of time the school week was only about footy on the weekend and ‘when was Excited Angel running next’. Not really conducive to getting good grades, Leonard explained!
Upon successfully finishing his VCE in 1997 he enrolled in a diploma of Horse Studies Breeding at NMIT. This two year diploma provided the platform for his career in the thoroughbred industry and he is forever grateful to the course co-coordinator Dave Phipps who has been a great mentor to Leonard over the years. Through this course for excellence achieved in the diploma he received a 3 month scholarship to the famed Cambridge Stud. During his stay at Cambridge working with some of the most influential bloodstock of the world, namely Zabeel and Eight Carat, he decided that he would one day love to buy, sell and manage bloodstock of this caliber as an agent.
The dream of becoming an agent was the catalyst for his 10 year plan. His plan was to learn as much as he could about all facets of the industry, and he would achieve this by working in breeding, racing, for individual agents and Bloodstock Companies. He would pick the brains of some of the most influential horsemen on the planet, being stud managers, racehorse trainers, Bloodstock Agents, Veterinarians, Farriers etc. All this so as to prepare him for the life of one day becoming a bloodstock consultant.
Upon finishing his scholarship at Cambridge Stud he returned to Melbourne where he was employed by Chatswood Stud to assist with yearling sales and weaning. He spent 6 months at Chatswood before returning to New Zealand on the recommendation of Dave Phipps to work for his now close friend Wayne Larsen. This was a great learning experience for Leonard and character building. Wayne and his wife Alison had just started Te Runga stud and over the next two years he assisted them in building up their business from the bottom up, Wayne a clever businessmen, horsemen and veterinarian taught him a great deal about horses and life. He is proud to say that TeRunga stud is now a big part of NZ Breeding Industry. His experiences in the breeding industry extended to Ireland where he worked for Coolmore Stud, a beautiful part of the world and then culminating to his position of Stud Manager at Ashwell Farm NZ. Here he had the responsibility of 4 stallions, breeding, foaling etc, a busy period in his life.
During his 10 year plan he also worked for leading trainers Roger James and John Hawkes of Crown Lodge at Flemington Racecourse. During this period he worked part-time for the respected agent Tony Cavanagh before packing up again and traveling to the UK to do a 12 month sales stint with the famed Tattersalls Bloodstock. Leonard then moved back to Australia and took up a position with his friend and Horse-Trainer Neil Walsh. They had already enjoyed some city winning success together with the purchase of the tried mare Strategee gee. This success continued with Beijing Magic winning 3 in a row and then Neil purchasing a beautiful 2.5 acre property on the back of Mornington Racecourse. It was there that Leonard spent a further 2.5 years assisting Neil with the day to day running of the stable, as well as being involved in all bloodstock purchases from sales, and advising stable clientele on their bloodstock needs.