As I have now finished my time in Newmarket, with the trainer Kevin Philippart de Foy and his team, I thought that it would be a good time to give you an update on what I have been up to during that time.
While with Kevin, I have spent most mornings going around with him directly to watch the warm-ups, and work of his horses, which has also given me the opportunity to see and discover a lot of the different gallops Newmarket has. This was especially true as Kevin has horses in 2 different yards on each end of Newmarket, which allows him to easily use a higher number of gallops. It is truly an amazing little town, which has been designed around racehorses and their training. I mean, where else can you see pedestrian crossings for horses? Or electric gates buttons built at a height for riders to press open these gates?
While seeing the gallops, I also had the chance to ask Kevin a lot of questions about his training methods and why he decided to adopt these methods to help me understand the training of racehorses better.
I also had a few mornings where I stayed in the yard, with his assistant trainer, in the one yard and the head lad in the other yard, to better understand what is happening before a horse goes out on the track and after it comes back, as well as how their cooldown is organised, to try and minimise the risks of injury, as well as to give the horses the best possible conditions to develop and race to the best of their potential.
I got to go around a few different trainers one morning as I went with one of the vets from Newmarket Equine Hospital, which has also allowed me to have a good chat with the vet and understand the most common issues, that he will be faced with in racehorses, and how they deal with them.
Another morning, I got to go around with the horse osteopath, who comes to Newmarket 2 days a week. It was really intriguing to see the different manipulations he could do on horses and how I could visibly see the sore spots on horses disappear with a very brief manipulation.
My afternoons were also fairly busy and just as interesting. I got to go and discover the National Horse Racing Museum, from which I learnt a few things regarding the life of racehorses. I also got to go to The National Stud, with Joe Bradley, their Head of Bloodstock. We went around the farm to see the different infrastructures they had as well as seeing a few foals and yearlings, mostly by their own stallions, including Time Test, Stradivarius, Lope Y Fernandez and Rajasinghe.
In the afternoon, I also got to lead up two horses to the races. The first horse was a 5yo gelding by Bated Breath called Cairn Gorm, whom I took to the York races. The racecourse itself was so impressive by how big the facilities are. It was great to take that horse as it won, and I got to take it back to the winners' enclosure at the end of the race. The second horse I took was a 3yo filly by Almanzor called Shazam, whom I took to the Newmarket July Course. Even though they consider the other racecourse in Newmarket to be better and newer, this one was still big and impressive. It was another good day as that filly came second on that day.
Following that very interesting placement at Kevin’s training yard, I have made my way to Doncaster, where I joined the GOFFS UK team (newly renamed to just Goffs) for their August sale. It is a mixed sale of horses of all ages, from mares and foals to racehorses, both for the flat and National Hunt Racing. It was very interesting to discover the complex and meet the whole team during a sale, which is not as stressful/busy as the premier yearling sale. Following the sale, we drove back to Scotland, where Goffs’ office is based in the UK. The following few days I spent in the office doing some research on some trainers and bloodstock agent who trade a lot with Goffs.
The following week, I made my way to Arqana, in Deauville, France, for their August Yearling Sale, maybe one of the highest-rated yearling sales in Europe. It was very interesting to go and see a lot of top-class yearlings and get opinions from bloodstock agents, trainers, and stud masters on what they thought of each lot. I also got to go to the races in Deauville, with the racecourse just a 2-minute walk from the complex. There were a few group races as well as the Arqana series races that I got to attend with the Arqana team. Once the sale started, Arqana got me to help with the bidspotting, and it is crazy to see the amount of people that are in the ring. There are a lot of buyers, but there are also a lot of tourists coming to see the auction go. The team had to make passes for buyers and vendors to access the sale ring otherwise, they would simply not be able to find their way into the ring because of the crowd.
Following the sale in France, we drove back to Scotland and two days later I was off to York for the Ebor Festival. I got to go and see some world-class racing for 3 days with some of the team at Goffs, and also got to see the Goffs Harry’s Half Million race, a handicap race organised by Goffs for horses coming out of their sale, with a 500,000 pounds prize fund. It was very impressive to see the racecourse from a spectator point of view after having it seen from a staff and horses point of view just a few weeks prior.
From there, I trained straight to Doncaster for Goffs Premier Yearling Sale. There I got to do a few tasks for Goffs such as going around collecting passports, which has allowed me to meet a lot of vendors and make some more contacts amongst them, some of which I definitely intend to stay in touch with. I also got to go around with Johnny McKeever and Charles Hills during their inspections of horses and learn a lot about what they look out for. It was very interesting to see both of their points of view and what they each like to see in a yearling. During both days of auctioning, I was on the rostrum taking all of the online bidding as well as helping the bid spotters, when the online bidding was quiet. Following the sale, we came back to Scotland, where I have kept busy by putting together a great range of statistics about the sale that the board of Goffs will be using in the coming years to help them chose the horses they will be selecting in the sale.
Overall, Goffs has been an amazing experience so far, where I feel like I have learnt a lot as well as developed plenty of connections in the UK, as much in the consignors as in the buyers.
I am now in my final week working for Goffs and have got two sale sales left to attend with them, incuding a premium private sale in the Yorton farm sale. I will then be on my way to Hong Kong to conclude the amazing experience this scholarship has been.