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Bruce's Blog – October 2008

The Last Blog - Taylor Made Farm

13/08/08 – 21/09/08

Unbelievably, in terms of how fast time fly's, I am home, my Sunline International Management scholarship is all over. Three, ten week blocks, at three of the world's premier thoroughbred stud farms and I cannot begin to put into words how amazing my time has been. So many great thrills, such wonderful thoroughbreds situated in, on and around such magical property and all taken care of by intelligent, warm hearted and ambitious individuals who together make up wonderful teams, world leaders in fact. I have learnt so much, and been inspired so much... I sit here smiling as I reminisce... all the great people and thoroughbreds I have met running vividly through my mind, each with their own fantastic memories firmly etched in my long term memory bank... what an experience the last 8 or so months has been. I thoroughly recommend the 2009 version of the Sunline Management Scholarship to anybody with a real passion for this game. The key features of the scholarship for me have been:

1. A truly international perspective of the thoroughbred industry. A totally new understanding of the similarities and differences between each international breeding industry, their advantages and disadvantages, and most importantly a healthy new respect for the quality of our own NZ product and the conditions in which our athletes are raised. A wonderfully broad, knowledge gathering experience.

2. Invaluable access to world leaders in the thoroughbred industry. It's like anything, if you show initiative, communicate your passion, and listen carefully you can access the minds of some of the most extremely well respected personalities in the game. I had questions for Africa and they gave my ears answers for the world. A truly priceless learning environment.

3. Contacts for life. Ever thought to yourself that you were the only person your age with an extreme passion for thoroughbreds at your school, university, village, work... think again. Meet and befriend people with the same passion, interest and enthusiasm for the game from... The U.S., Argentina, Ireland, The U.K., Poland, Hungary, Germany, Australia, France, South Africa, NEW ZEALAND, Chile, Slovakia, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong.. Stop It... I know... this game is in some great hands. Some well established already, others "chomping at the bit".

4. An extreme hunger to be involved in the thoroughbred industry after being fed positivity, ambition, passion and enthusiasm from like-minded people world-wide.

Keeneland September

A quick overview:

· 15 days of sales (20 days if you include shipping in, and initial show days/non-sale days).

· 3,605 yearlings grossed $327,999,100, 14.8% down on last year, averaged $90,984, with a median of $37,000

· Taylor Made Sales sold 374 yearlings for a gross of $48,929,900, making us/them the sales leading consignor by gross for the 5th consecutive year.

· Top lot, a $3.1 million dollar A.P. Indy filly out of Chimichurri, was bought by the sales leading buyer John Ferguson who spent $18,185,000 on 27 purchases.

· Taylor Made Sales consigned the co-2nd top lot, a stunning filly by Unbridled's Song out of Silken Cat(Storm Cat), a half sister to Breeders Cup winning sprinter and emerging sire Speightstown(Gone West) she brought $1.7 million.

· Leading sire by average was, you guessed it, Storm Cat, whose 19 yearlings averaged nearly $585,000. A.P. Indy followed close behind with his 27 yearling s averaging a juicy $550,000.

My Keeneland Crew- take note and keep an ear out- The Results Show

For those of you who would like to follow my yearlings (the group that I groom and look after) through the Keeneland September sale, here are their lot numbers, their breeding and a few conformation comments: AND their final sales prices and purchasers.

Hip #165 CH C Ghostzapper(Awesome Again) x Defer West(Gone West)-
By the 1st crop sire they are all talking about, this colt is out of a stakes winning Gone West mare that has already left two graded stakes winners. Family of U.S. sire Mining. Top quality colt, lovely short cannons and low set hock. Very well balanced, massive quarters, great forearm and gaskin. Correct and walks like a sprinter should.

$450,000- Shadwell Stud. Great colt goes to a great home, for great money. All the very best champ.

Hip #226 B C Giant's Causeway(Storm Cat) x Mambo Slew(Kingmambo)
By a sire in great form at the moment over here, and a first foal of a stakes winning Kingmambo mare. Great size for a first foal and will be in huge demand. Smart colt, very athletic, with everything in proportion. Should sell extremely well.

$50,000- Mark Johnstone. I BA Slade got it very wrong in terms of price, but M Johnstone, Newmarket, got it very right, overlooking minor issues (time will tell) and getting a steal. You show 'em Slew Boy.

Hip #979 Br C Dixie Union(Dixieland Band) x Silent Stream
A new recruit I have not been able to retrieve his pedigree yet but I do know that he is by a very exciting sire that leaves very precocious and speedy racehorses and this guy fits the bill to a tee. Very mature, powerful quarters, great bone and great strength through the forearm and gaskin. He is ready to rock and will add to his sires tally quickly. Should sell well.

$150,000- Sequoia Racing. Nice money for a nice colt. Quick return on investment here. Use your speed Streama.

Hip #1277 Gr C Mr Greeley(Gone West) x Marina De Chevon(Exploit)
By an extremely popular sire from a stakes winning grand-daughter of Storm Cat. Winners throughout family have won multiple races in long careers, giving an indication of great soundness throughout the family. This colt is a lovely clean legged, clean boned horse. Armed with fantastic shoulder, he stands over a lot of ground to go with his great length of reign. Light on his feet when he wants to be, and a do anything for you attitude.

$190,000-Jerry Hollendorfer. Great money in book 3, he will get a great shot with Hollendorfer and this type of horse deserves it. Marina show them no mercy champ.
Hip #3165 B C Forest Danger (Forestry) x Dyno Dancer (Dynaformer)
By an exciting 1st crop sire that will get 2yo's. Dam is a half sister to gr1 winner Island Sand(Tabasco Cat) so Storm Cat line has been successful with the family already. This colt is improving all the time, he really is going the right way about things. Has a bit of scope, length, and a good outlook.

RNA(Reserve Not Attained)- ($3,500). Obviously did not improve enough J. Gut wrenching to be on the wrong side of this burn. Let's prove them wrong Dyno.

My Role for Taylor Made Sales

Bruce and friends ready to sell the next Taylor Made yearling.
Bruce and friends ready to sell the next Taylor Made yearling.

I was very lucky and pleasantly surprised to be offered the job of a sales person for Taylor Made for the first half of the sales. My role involved the following, loosely in order:

1. Greet and welcome buyers/clients to our "zone"(because of the large quantity of horses T.Made put through they divide their draft into zones so that parades can be conducted in manageable quantities).

2. Ensure they get a card printed of each horse they would like to see within our draft.

3. Offer them a loyalty card. The card can be swiped at each visit so that we do not have to take their details each time they visit for inspection. Each day cardholders are drawn to win prizes such as restaurant vouchers etc.

4. Ensure the buyers chosen horses are presented to them in a tidy, efficient manner. Time delays between each horse reduced as much as possible. Usually a continuous line.

5. Ensure the buyers are aware of any significant updates. New winners, new stakes horses etc.

6. Push the horses selling points(discussed in meetings prior to each show day and on appraisal days(each and every horse is appraised(given a conformation grade and predicted selling price) before the sale to go through conformational qualities and get an idea for the market/buyer that might be interested in such a horse). Usually things like close relations, strong crosses/nicks(A++ nick rating), mares produce achievements(6 to race 6 winners), exciting young horses in the family and their speed ratings etc.

7. Have all info available to buyer/client on hand. Things like who the mare is in foal to, who has the 2yo sibling with comments on how he/she is training plus track work info(all times are published in the USA- times very important), where siblings are racing next, what price the horse made as a weanling etc. Pretty much anything you could ever want to know is on hand for the buyer in our own sales books, things like the % stakes winners from the particular cross to details like what the stallion's progeny averaged at last year's sales or as weanlings. Also access to Taylor Made vet grades(scope and x-ray), though buyers are encouraged to seek 2nd and 3rd opinions from their own vets.

8. Escort the buyer/client to the next zone where their next group of Taylor Made yearlings will be waiting or thank them for their time and notify the buyer/client that they have seen all he yearlings they had wished to see at Taylor Made.

9. Compile data on horses I thought the buyer/client liked.

10. The day before the sale all sales staff get together and collaborate their data. Multiple lookers are highlighted, vetting checked and other little indicators discussed to try and determine which horses should sell(and to whom) and identify others which may need help, and extra sales attention.

11. Accompany assigned horses up to the sales ring and be on hand for any last minute queries buyers/clients may have. Invariably there will be two or three buyers approach you for new information they require.

12. Watch the horse sell, congratulate the new owner, and walk back to the stables satisfied(most of the time hopefully).

The role was one that I had never known to exist, let alone fulfilled before, so it was both highly interesting, refreshing and highly enjoyable at the same time. The obvious highlight being the chance to meet some of the most influential people in the racing game. Champion trainers such as John Gosden, Todd Pletcher, and Bob Baffert. Champion jockeys like Eddie Delahousaye. Supreme bloodstock agents like Demi O'Byrne((along with John Magnier and his trade mark salmon shirt with white collar)I have so much respect for these two gentlemen), John Ferguson, and Richard Goff. World racing leaders like Mark Player(HKJC, fellow NZer and superbly nice guy) and the French jockey club. I shook some important hands over these 20 long days but the hardest part was washing that right hand each night before bed... these really were my heroes... let's say mentors rather for the sake of not trying to be totally over the top.

The Second Chance

Taylor Made, due to their commitment in getting their clients yearlings sold, hold a RNA (reserve not attained) party after the completion of the sale for horses that failed to sell. A traditional Kentucky BBQ is held on the farm for buyers where there is endless supply of food, drink, and great conversation. Printed pedigree's and asking prices for the unsold yearlings are also available, as is the parading of any yearling that may be of interest to a particular buyer. It is an amazing success, both for clients in getting their horses turned over, and for buyers who have unfilled orders, and both, as well as Taylor Made, gain value from the experience.

The Taylor Made team is amazing, and their system really works. The perfect example of this is the fact that Taylor Made sell the most yearlings out of any other consignor, in every single one of the 8 Keeneland books of September. In every single book the average sales price achieved by Taylor Made is consistently, without fail, higher than the average sales price of that same particular book. Say no more. Mark, Frank, Duncan, Ben and their team are there in the trenches with us. So approachable, working alongside us trying to get horses sold. They literally could not be more hands on, could not be more ground level, could not be more accessible, could not be more pioneering and innovative, and most of all, could not be more inspirational for the rest of the Taylor Made crew. My Taylor Made time has been truly incredible.

To top it all off, on my departure the Taylor Made team(courtesy of Audra) gave me a very special memento of my time in the USA... a book specially made for me and featuring my trip to the USA. The cover features the U.S. and NZ flags, along with the NZTBA logo and my name. Inside are pages and pages of pictures and quotes from my time at Taylor Made along with special messages from the whole team. It truly was an amazingly kind gesture and something I will cherish forever.
A pre-sale inspection with the Taylor Made team.
A pre-sale inspection with the Taylor Made team.


The trip of an absolute lifetime. I have to thank the Sunline Trust especially for offering such a unique experience. Also many many thanks to Shannon Taylor, Sally Cassells-Brown, Michael Martin and Janine Wallace for ensuring my travel was effortless, the transitions hassle free, and the experience once in a lifetime. I drive forward into my future in this incredible industry with the same passion and enthusiasm as before, but now on a much wider road, with many more destinations and in a much higher gear.

Thank you all for letting me share my experiences with you. I hope it has brought some awareness to this magnificent scholarship and the opportunities it offers so that it may be available to many generations in the future. Also, if you have family, friends or acquaintances that you feel may suit this experience of a lifetime please encourage them to apply in future. I am so glad I did.

All the very best everybody,

Bruce Slade


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