Nick de Meric grew up in England, where he showed ponies and studied rural estate management at Cirencester Agricultural College, after attending boarding school Berkshire. Early in life, he decided to make horses his career. He worked for legendary trainer Tommy Smith in Australia and for several other conditioners in England, including Brian Swift, Roger Stack, and R.C. Sturdy. He also toured East Africa and the Far East, herded cattle, picked apples, toiled in an iron ore mine in Australia, wrote for a magazine in London, and competed as an amateur rider in point-to-point races.

"For quite a number of years, I was a bit of a rolling stone, and it was a good education as well as great fun," de Meric said. "I loved to travel, and working with horses proved an effective vehicle to that end."

After journeying to the United States in the early 1980s, de Meric worked for well known thoroughbred sales agents L. Clay Camp, Lee Eaton, and Fred Seitz. He also broke and rode young horses for a number of respected Florida farms.

Jaqui was born in Connecticut and moved to Kentucky with her family at the age of ten, where she pursued her lifelong love of animals, horses in particular. Early in life she demonstrated a rare skill in the nurturing and raising orphaned animals, and to this day the de Merics play host to various mammal species at any given time. She worked at Mayfield Veterinary Clinic throughout high school, after which she embarked on her own travels in Central America. When she returned she continued her equine education on several prominent farms in central Kentucky, also working at yearling and breeding stock sales when possible. It was on the crew of Lee Eaton's fall yearling consignment of 1981 that Nick and Jaqui first met, both being later recruited to assist in the preparation and presentation of yearlings for resale as two year olds at Mason Grasty's Foxfire farm in Lousiana. Six months beside the bayou at the farm cottage affectionately dubbed 'Rancho Malaria' laid the foundations for a relationship which has grown stronger with time. The couple then traveled to England where they lived and worked before returning to the United States in the latter part of 1982.

In the fall of 1982, Nick and Jaqui purchased their first horse together. In March of 1983, the filly sold for $30,000 at the OBS March auction of 2-year-olds in training. The small profit allowed the couple to buy a reliable vehicle, and the two were married that June in Kentucky. Not long afterward, the de Merics decided to settle down in Ocala and lease some property. A couple years later, they purchased 40 acres they called Manuden, named after a small village of thatched houses in England where de Meric's grandparents lived. The operation expanded in size gradually, until 1997, when the couple added a 230-acre chunk of land that became Eclipse Training Center. The de Merics also started a family, adding the care of daughter Alexandra and son Tristan to their seven-day-a-week schedule. 

In 1990, de Meric achieved his first major pinhooking score with Beauty Sign, a Fit to Fight filly who sold for $280,000 at the Barretts March select sale after being purchased for 43,000 as a yearling. Bradley also shared in that success as a partner.

Even though only de Meric's name appears in the juvenile sale catalogs, he said his wife's "has been my partner every step of the way. It's not just Nick's outfit, its Nick and Jaqui's outfit. I've done everything with her right beside me. We have also been blessed with some wonderful staff over the years and our current key personnel are among the best in the industry. Without their loyalty and expertise we could not begin to function as we do."

Jaqui's main focus is the breaking program, where she uses "resistance-free" techniques she learned from Idaho horseman Martin Black. She introduces the yearlings to tack and riders in a round pen, using trained ponies and a 'flag' to desensitize flighty yearlings before a rider is introduced. The yearlings spend several weeks jogging patterns in the field and trail riding before beginning the next phase of training on the track.                                     

This method has made a difference in everything we do with the horses, from clipping them to introducing them to new places and new situations," Jaqui de Meric said. "They are very self-confident, and they also are very happy. They're having so much fun they don't want to go back to the barn."

Nick takes over the horse's care after they are ready for more serious exercise. Preparing them for the sales has become as increasingly difficult task, according to de Meric, who must satisfy buyers' demands for sharp works and clean veterinary exams.

"The game has changed a huge amount since I started selling 2-year-olds," he said. "There was a time when we could sell horses just two minute-licking them in nice, pretty sets. Now the horses need to demonstrate something that separates them from the crowd, and buyers place significant emphasis on speed.

Nick and Jaqui's children are now adults, both active and well known to the Thoroughbred business in their own right. While their daughter Ali helps with some consultation and freelance exercise riding and sale work, her main focus now is the fledgling pinhooking business she and Brandon Rice have started together. A graduate of the University of Tampa, she cut her teeth helping on the farm and with two year old consignments from an early age. Their son Tris, however, while also pinhooking and selling yearlings on his own account, is now an integral part of the family business, particularly the breaking, training and sales program. He and his French Canadian wife, Valerie, an accomplished horsewoman in her own right and their young daughter, Elizabeth, live on their own property between the farm and the training center, linking the two properties.

"I've tried to strike a balance between what I feel is right as a horseman and what will make my horses marketable." de Meric continued. "We gradually build up the distance our horses gallop, getting a good foundation under them before we start on open gallops and two-minute licks. I don't hone on them and ask them for a lot of fast works before they leave the farm. I usually try to bring my horses to a peak at the sale itself. But I won't compromise a horse's future for the sake of a fast breeze in an under tack show. I council the people I represent that we want to leave something in the tank for the buyer, and we've been fortunate to develop a clientele that has been quite supportive over the years."

Cot Campbell, President of the nationally prominent Dogwood Stable, remains one of de Meric's most loyal customers. At the OBS select sale at the 2001 Calder sale, he purchased graded stakes and recent Sunshine Millions Distaff winner Smokin' Frolic from de Meric for $85,000.

"I can't think of another human being in whom I have more trust than Nick de Meric." Campbell said.

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