Thursday, September 25, 2014

Arrivals and departures

Ethics Girl settles in at Hilborough Stud
The transient nature of the racing industry is such that to live and work within it one must get used to saying goodbye. In a small stable of around 20 equine residents who literally live underneath us it's never easy. Try as I might not to get attached, it's impossible not to care and to wonder what will happen to our horses once they leave our yard.

In most cases, we have some influence over where they end up and there have been some wonderful stories of horses who have gone on from here to have successful careers in other disciplines after retirement from racing. Vicky Melia, who oversees three fillies formerly in training here, sent yet more lovely photos only last week of Maroon and Ruby competing at their first BE horse trials and I always enjoy receiving updates on their progress.

I've already paid tribute to Ethics Girl on our homepage and, while I don't like not having her here, knowing that she's only half an hour away at a wonderful farm with good people is a great comfort. Excitement of a different sort starts with her now as we begin to make a selection for the first stallion she will visit next February.

Finally a decent driver at the wheel
I'm writing this from Fariyhouse at the Tattersalls Ireland Sale where we bought Ethics Girl seven years ago. Her owners have reinvested in a yearling from the sale, a very handsome son of Rock Of Gibraltar, and we look forward to bringing him home to Newmarket and starting his training.

While this was John's first yearling sale of the year, I've already been reporting from Deauville for the Arqana August Sale, DBS for the Premier Sale, and made a first visit to the Osarus Sale at La Teste de Buch near Bordeaux earlier this month.

Once again I hit the road with William Huntingdon and Liam Norris. There's been much disparagement of my driving skills since our trip to Germany earlier this year but, as the pictures accompanying this post show, this time I took the wheel for much of the seven-hour trip south through France while my travelling companions slept like babies.

One Lord-a-snoring
William and Liam bought a Vision d'Etat colt and a Dalghar filly for clients and, while I didn't go there specifically looking for a yearling, Liam saw a filly whom he really liked and we decided to buy her on spec if she sold for a reasonable amount.

I was delighted when the hammer fell in Liam's favour at €5,000 and feel that we've got a real bargain on our hands. The filly is by Carlotamix and, as is common in France and Germany, was already named. Having been given the name Sirli, there's already been the predictable joke made that she's named after the agent who bought her but she's considerably better looking than him, as the picture towards the bottom of this page will testify!

It's an exremely tough life being a bloodstock agent
Joking aside, I'm delighted to have her. Liam's a very strict judge at the sales and William and I can usually tell on the rare occasion he really likes a horse as he walks up and puts his hand on him or her. This has become known in catalogue short-hand as HOL ('Hand of Liam') and I'm delighted to say Sirli has a big HOL scrawled on her page. I'll be drawing up details of a new syndicate to race her very soon so keep an eye on our website if you're interested in getting involved.

While we were in La Teste we also had the chance to spend a morning with Christophe Ferland, who trains at the track and has a string of around 80 really nice horses. He was very generous with his time and we couldn't have picked a better day to be there as the early-morning mist gave way to a spectacular sunrise.

Christophe Ferland's string in action at Hippodrome de Bequet
No matter how many mornings I spend out on Newmarket Heath I could never tire of seeing thoroughbreds at exercise and it's always nice to be able to visit different trainers in different countries to see how they operate. Christophe has a team of excellent riders and there was a really friendly, laidback air to his stable, which is always good to see.

One extra bonus of the visit was seeing a Monsieur Bond colt who is the first foal of our old friend Alpen Glen and is owned and bred by my former boss and friend Jocelyn Targett.

Sirli is already back with us and she will be joined by our Fairyhouse purchase in the next day or two, as well as John's Youmzain colt out of Minnie's Mystery, who is on his way to us from France. Later this week we will also take delivery of a Sakhee's Secret colt bred by Charles and Zorka Wentworth and we're delighted to welcome them to the stable as owners.

Sirli, our beautiful new yearling filly, is not named after Liam
So there will be plenty to get on with as the yearlings are broken in and take their first steps out on Newmarket Heath. It's a time of hopes and dreams, which is just as well as this week I've had a long-held dream shattered with the retirement of Oscar, my very first homebred.

He did make it to the track once and came back injured from that bumper run. Despite being given plenty of time he doesn't really seem to be able to stand up to the rigours of full training so, with a very heavy heart, I have taken the decision to stand him down and look for options elsewhere. He's a lovely mover and a good-looking horse and I very much hope he'll have a worthwhile career doing something else, just not as a racehorse.

Oscar at three days old with his mum Desiree
I have several of his siblings coming through, including a very strong two-year-old by Schiaparelli, named Delatite, whom I hope will eventually bring some honour and glory to the family.

Oscar's done nothing wrong and he has given me many years of dreaming what a champion he may become. Sadly now it's plain that a racing life is not for him. Even though he'll only leave us once I've found him the best possible home, I'm already dreading the day of his parting. The time I first set eyes on him as a tiny newborn foal will remain one of the happiest days of my life.

1 comment:

MudgesWorld said...

It is not often you see this, I people watch as much as horse watch, I do consider this a dead giveaway as to someone who knows what he is doing.
Keep a watch on a few of the better Judges, see who else actually touches a horse when they inspect it.
But don't tell to many, we don't need the competition!