Monday, June 02, 2014

The dream begins

It’s been another busy month of travelling and sales. At the end of April, I made my first trip to the Osarus breeze-up at Pornichet, with the main aim being to write a feature for Thoroughbred Owner & Breeder, which you can read by clicking here.

Our new recruit, a 3yo filly by Robin Des Champs ex Love Supreme
I also had the idea I might buy a breezer to syndicate while I was there so I took my trusty sidekick Liam Norris with me and we were outbid on a few horses that we liked. One was very early on in the sale – a chestnut daughter of Stormy River catalogued as lot 2. She’d actually been the first horse we’d looked at the previous day and on second viewing she remained high on the shortlist.

I lost my nerve a bit as she got close to my reserve and she ended up being sold to Marc-Antoine Berghracht. As she left the ring, Liam said to me, “The last time I bid on a chestnut filly who was in as lot 2, it was Dancing Rain.” I resisted the urge to give him a swift kick in the shins and have spent the weeks since that day praying that those words don’t come back to haunt me.

I recently helped Liam set up his new website and in return he has been helping me with my little syndicate project which has been really appreciated as I’d really only feel confident enough to buy a horse with a positive second opinion from either John or Liam.

The two Tattersalls sales and Arqana’s St Cloud breeze-up proved to be too strong for the likes of me, and I switched my attention from the flat to the store horse sale at DBS the week before last. I tagged along with Liam while he looked for a big strong gelding for a proper client and occasionally sloped off to look at some fillies.

I’m a big supporter of the efforts of the TBA and ITBA to promote and increase the National Hunt races for mares in both England and Ireland and, while the sales have picked up generally in the last few years in both codes, there definitely has been improvement in the trade for jumps-bred fillies, which at one point had reached a worrying low point.

It’s still much cheaper to buy a filly than a gelding, and it always will be, but with an improved programme of racing for the mares thanks to input from the BHA’s race planning department, there are many good reasons to buy a National Hunt filly. In fact, as the TBA’s marketing poster to the left says, there are at least 22.

I was rather taken with a filly by Robin Des Champs who was consigned by Mickley Stud but, as she was by such a good stallion, I’d all but ruled her out, thinking she would sell for beyond what I was prepared to stake to buy a horse on spec with a view to setting up a syndicate.

Maybe it was because she was late through the ring on a gloomy day when many orders had already been filled, or perhaps it’s because she’s on the small side by jumping standards, but I eventually managed to buy her for £7,000 and have not regretted the decision for one second, all the while keeping the thought in my mind that Quevega, who is by the same sire, is a very small horse. Liam had looked at her with me and given me the thumbs-up and now I had to break it to the trainer that he had a new horse to train…with owners to be named at a later date.

Happily, John was thrilled with the news, loved the filly on sight, and we now have a half-full syndicate of really nice people who have already been owners in other horses at Beverley House Stables. There are four shares still to be taken up and anyone who wishes to know a bit more about the filly’s breeding and the syndicate details can click here for further information.

No worries for our brave filly as she tackles the Severals
John had the filly out long-reining for the first time on the Severals this morning. She had to pass quite a few big strings on the way and coped with all the sights and sounds of a busy Newmarket morning very well, which is really encouraging considering she’s been raised on a quiet farm in the Lake District before spending the last month up to the sale at Richard Kent’s Mickley Stud. The teams at both places have clearly done a wonderful job in their handling of her and she really couldn’t have a better temperament.

The next stage will be for her to have a rider on her back but on her behaviour so far, I can’t see that being too much of a problem. It’s really exciting to have this lovely project to work on and she hopefully won’t be our only representative in mares’ hurdles as Russian Link schooled really well on her first attempt under Joe Akehurst on Saturday and we look forward to seeing her make her hurdles debut later this summer. She’s a Juddmonte-bred daughter of Rail Link who should have the stamina to see her through, and she certainly is a natural jumper.

Cheers: Lorna and Matteo
My malingering homebred Oscar Bernadotte is finally back in the early stages of work after being on a break since Christmas. He has managed one bumper run so far, in which he sustained an injury, and he’s now six, so as you can imagine, his co-owner Stephen and I are keen to get another bumper run into him this year before he turns seven. He’s really strengthened up on his break, however, and is looking great, so once again hope springs eternal.

I'm back off to the sales next week, for the Goffs Land Rover Sale in Ireland, but with my journalist's hat on rather than my buying one. The big treat will be to spend some time at Rahinston Stud with Harry and Lorna Fowler and to see their two young children, Rosie and Johnny. There have been some lovely jumpers bred at Rahinston by Harry's parents over the years and I'm really looking forward to seeing some of their mares and youngstock while I'm there. Lorna and Harry are much missed in Newmarket, especially by Matteo Botti, who was taught to drink red wine by Lorna at a young age at one of my birthday lunches, as the accompanying image shows!

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