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Jamie's Blog - October 2012

Tattersalls sale topper, Lot 557, the Galileo colt three quarter brother to Authorized went to the bid of David Redvers for 2,500,000gns
Tattersalls sale topper, Lot 557, the Galileo colt three quarter brother to Authorized went to the bid of David Redvers for 2,500,000gns

Farewell to the Sunline Scholarship

Amazingly, I find myself at the end of the Sunline Scholarship, which has seen me visit some of the most astonishing thoroughbred centers in the world. It's hard to believe that I have been away from home for the best part of eight months working as part of the remarkable teams that together run three of the worlds leading thoroughbred boutiques in England, Ireland and America. Continually the industry evolves and the international aspect of the Sunline Scholarship has been a real eye opener as to how close in fact the thoroughbred industry is in a global context. We see horses coming from England, Ireland, France and Japan to compete in all of Melbourne's premier middle distance contests, Australian sprinters going to England and beating the best they can offer and even Germany winning in the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe last year. This to me reinforces the importance of international experience within this industry and that to me would have to be the most important part about this scholarship and why any young people out there thinking of making a go at racing as a career must apply.

I have learnt so much, not only about the day-to-day running of these amazing horse farms, but the management, the relationships and networking within the industry but also importantly myself. I left New Zealand knowing that I wanted to make a go of this industry in a career with horses; you get on the plane bound for Newmarket, England, a green and energetic boy from New Zealand and in Newmarket almost everything you know changes, not only the major changes but the minor subtleties in caring for, nurturing and preparing these horses for later life. And here I am returning to NZ after a marvelous eight months hopefully more mature, a better horseman and even more excited about what the industry has to offer me. This last installment will concentrate mainly on the two largest yearling sales in the world, Keeneland September and Tattersalls October which, thanks to the Sunline Scholarship, I was lucky enough to attend.

Keeneland September
For the last three weeks of my stay in the Bluegrass State everything had been geared towards the marathon Keeneland September Yearling Sale. With 3,604 horses catalogued, the sale was down majorly from its catalogued 4,319 yearlings when Matt Scown was here last year, but that didn't stop the sale being a couple of the biggest weeks of my life.
Standing up a Taylor Made Bernardini Colt before he goes through the ring
Standing up a Taylor Made Bernardini Colt before he goes through the ring

With the sale due to start on Monday evening with the select night sale of Book One, these horses were shipped in to Keeneland on Thursday morning by Frank Taylor's team. My experience however didn't start until Saturday morning when the Book Two horses were shipped in as part of Mark Taylor's team. The Book Two horses would have two show days on Sunday and Monday and then sell Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. While I was working at the farm at Yearling Complex A, I managed to get on quite well with a Tapit colt that would do anything to bite, strike or just be a general nuisance. So when he left the farm, John Hall, the yearling manager, said that I would look after him until he went through the ring on Tuesday. So instead of being a show person on a particular ring I would show this horse whenever he was called and what a mission that turned out to be.

After the initial all-shows where everyone would come around and make their short lists, and he seemed to make his way onto most of those, he then had numerous second, third and fourth looks before he eventually went through the ring. Being by Tapit, one of the most sought-after sires of the sale with the highest average in Book Two of $314,375, and out of Que Belle, the German Classic winner, and this colt a half brother to two graded stakes winners, he was always going to be very popular.

The horse had all the best judges inspecting him including Coolmore, Todd Pletcher, Bob Baffett and Shadwell amongst others and it really was a privilege to show a horse to all of these powerhouses, not only a great learning curve in showing him, but also how these industry leaders go about looking at horses as well. He was a big rangy type of horse, with good bone but looked like he was going to need a bit of time, but when you saw him walk things changed completely. It was great being able to listen to the different comments that people made when they came and saw him, for example "now look at this horse, I know he's not overly pretty but wait until he walks". A horse that was always going somewhere and eventually after a very hectic few days went through the ring for $500,000 to the bid of Demi O'Byrne on behalf of Coolmore and will head to Todd Pletcher's yard to do his racing where he will have every chance.

Once he was sold it was back to business as normal, working in what Taylor Made call a quad, which is one of four teams that work out of one barn area. I would either be showing horses or getting horses ready to be shown to all of Taylor Made's clients. An amazing couple of weeks where Taylor Made regained its position as the number one consigner selling a total of 242 horses at an average of $98,149 for a gross figure of $23,752,000. This however did not include the horses that were sold privately or that were sold at the famous Taylor Made RNA Party. Taylor Made work extremely hard on having the most up-to-date information on every horse they sell, whether that be a million dollar colt in Book One or a $5,000 filly in Book Six. They do a massive job selling each horse to the best of their ability and it has been a huge learning curve working for the best consigner in North America. A massive thank you to everyone at Taylor Made, the brothers Frank, Mark, Ben and Duncan as well as Pat Payne and yearling manager John Hall. I have learnt so much being nurtured through the Taylor Made system and I hope to see you all again shortly.

After the sale finished I had a couple days of down time in Lexington to say goodbye to all the great people I had met over the last two and half months and also found time for a quick visit to Coolmore's North American operation, Ashford Farm. Here I was shown around the stallions, the likes of leading sire Giant's Causeway, the big powerful son of Unbridled's Song in Dunkirk, leading young sire Scat Daddy, Munnings, Tale of the Cat and Majestic Warrior. I also got to have a look at some of the weanlings on the farm and they looked magnificent coming in for the evenings and getting fed before going out during the day and enjoying the Kentucky sun on their backs. Kentucky has been great and a special thank you to another Kiwi Andy Williams who took me under his wing and showed me around the place, not only in a professional manner but also very socially, introducing to me all the right young people in the industry. A lot of fun and somewhere I would like to visit again on a more permanent basis in the future.

Tattersalls October

I arrived into London to meet some friends from home to enjoy a bit of a look around the city before I headed to Newmarket for Tattersalls October. It was great to see some familiar faces and after a couple of days of sightseeing and catching up with nothing to show for my time in London apart from a shocking hangover and a substantially lighter back pocket, I was off again. Scott Calder, who I had been with in Ireland at Coolmore had a meeting in London on Monday morning and we got the train north from King's Cross to Newmarket at lunchtime. With Book 1 starting on the following day we met with Larry Stratton who I had spent some time with at the Craven Breeze Up sale to inspect some yearlings. Larry was a massive help when I said I would love to come back and have a look around when I left England after the guineas meeting in May.

For the first few days I went around looking at mostly fillies for Larry's clients that may sneak under the radar a little bit. It was very interesting to get his perspective on what he thinks particular horses can live with when you were looking at for racing rather than on selling at a breeze up sale for example. In between times I would always try and be in the ring whenever any fireworks were about to happen, particularly if anything by Galileo was near. In Book 1 over the three days, he had twenty-nine lots go through for an average of 494,655gns and a median of 275,000gns, well above the 162,925gns average and 100,000gns median for the entire Book 1. An amazing achievement and the atmosphere when the big lots went through was outstanding. The sale topping 2,500,000gns Galileo colt who is a three quarter brother to The Derby winner Authorized was purchased by David Redvers on behalf of Sheik Fahad Al Thani, who is from the Qatar Family that have become so well know with their sponsorship of the Quipco British Champions Series and the Qatar Prix de Arc de Triumphe. It is still undecided who will train the colt, but best of luck to the newcomers that keep the game ticking over. Coolmore was under-bidder on the sale topper and was also outbid on a Galileo filly that is a full sister to this year's oaks winner Was who was brought by Demi O'Bryne from this sale two years ago. She was sold to Mandore International Agency which is operated by Nicolas de Watrigant and buys regularly on behalf of Sheik Joaan Bin Hamad Al Thani. Although he could not reveal who she was bought for the, speculation on the sales grounds was that she was brought for Sheik Joaan Hamad Al Thani, who recently enjoyed his first win at Group One level when Olympic Glory trained by Richard Hannon won the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardère at Longchamp on Arc day.

The next stop for Book 2 was Whatton Manor Stud, a small stud located in Nottinghmashire about three hours north of London, which is operated by Messrsr Edward and Peter Player. Larry had a big strong Sahkee colt in their draft for Book 2 and had organized for me to give them a hand showing for four days. After Book 1 finished on Thursday, the horses were shipped in on Friday afternoon and we began showing their very nice draft on the Saturday morning in preparation for the sale starting on Monday morning. We were flat out all weekend and there was one particular colt by the young Galileo sire Teofilo who was very busy. He sold on Tuesday morning and after a very big few days and endless scopes he went through the ring and was sold for 220,000gns, a magnificent result for a very nice colt. They also had a number of other horses make nice money, including a Holy Roman Emperor and High Chaparral colt making 90,000gns and 80,000gns respectively, a Cape Cross filly that made 90,000gns and a pair of Royal Applause's that made 52,000gns each. An outstanding result for the little stud who punched well above their weight and managed to sell all 15 lots of their draft for an average of 56,000gns.

After Whatton Manor finished selling the bulk of their Book 2 horses on Tuesday, I followed Jim McCartan around for a few days inspecting the rest of Book 2. Jim is a jack-of-all-trades having represented Ireland in Equestrian before he worked for leading Irish trainer Noel Meade and then basing himself at Tally-Ho Stud where he worked directly with breeze-up horses and started to buy a few of his own. After a couple of successful early ventures, the rest is history and he now has 100 acres of prime Irish limestone country just 45 minutes from Dublin. Jim only looked for two things when buying a breeze-up type; 1) the horses had to look as though they could run a furlong in under 11 and 2) have the right attitude and physique to handle what can be a tough preparation to get them to the sales. It was a great couple of weeks and great to be back in Newmarket to catch up with everyone from Cheveley Park and hopefully make some contacts that will come in handy at some stage in later life.
Jamie (centre) enjoys a never-to-be forgotten 'Ascot Experience' with his mates
Jamie (centre) enjoys a never-to-be forgotten 'Ascot Experience' with his mates

After the sale finished I shot back down to London to meet some friends who had recently finished their European Contiki. We all met on Thursday evening and what a massive few days it was, culminating in an Ascot experience never to be forgotten. Of course I am referring to the swansong of world champion Frankel on British Champions Day where he overcame a very slow start and testing track conditions to take the Quipco British Champions Stakes by 1 ¾ lengths from last year's winner Cirrus Des Aigles. Labeled the best that we may have ever seen, it's unbelievable to be able to say that I was on course when he won his last race before being retired to Juddmonte for the 2012 breeding season. It sent shivers up the back of my neck when Tom Queally bought him down past the 35,000 strong crowd to a round of cheers and applause. A bit of an eye opener for a few of the boys that have experienced Ascot Invercargill and a great day out enjoyed by everyone on-course.

When I was thinking about applying for the scholarship I emailed Bruce Slade and asked him what it was all about and how he thought the scholarship had enhanced his career so far and he was very quick to point out that the scholarship was all about what you 'made of it'. I think I can safely say that I have taken hold of every possible opportunity that has arisen and made this an experience never to be forgotten. Now it's time to return home and look forward to the next challenge, a marketing position at NZB for the summer months where I will start work at the Ready to Run Sale and work through until Karaka 2013 before I return to Otago for six months of University that needs to be completed before I can begin to make a career of this industry that I am so passionate about.

Lastly I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone involved with the scholarship, particularly Michael Martin, Sally Cassels-Brown, Shannon Taylor, John Clydesdale and everyone else involved in the running of this fantastic opportunity. I hope everyone has enjoyed reading about the travels as much as I have reporting back, and to any possible young people in the industry, don't be shy to hand in your CV to Michael Martin and the team at NZTBA. It's been an opportunity I will never forget.

Thank you once again,
Jamie Richards