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Scholarship Blog: Sam Bergerson

Sam acting as a bid spotter the Doncaster sale
Sam acting as a bid spotter the Doncaster sale

My four week experience with the Goffs UK team began at Aintree for a boutique National Hunt (Jumpers) sale of 28 horses as part of the iconic Grand National Carnival. A bit of background quickly - Goffs UK (formerly Doncaster Bloodstock Sales (DBS)) is the second largest and fastest growing Thoroughbred Auction House in the UK and Goff's (Ireland Branch) is Ireland's leading Bloodstock Sales Company. The combined entity offers an extensive programme of sales throughout the year, in Britain and Ireland, cataloguing upwards of 5,000 horses each year.

The Aintree Sale has been running for the past three years and has already produced three Gr.1 winners. Because of this, it was extremely busy despite their being only 28 horses offered. Coincidentally enough, there was a colt by Galileo out of Aymara (Blackhillsofdakota) offered which was in the yard I worked in when I was at Aidan O'Brien's in 2017. He unfortunately banged his leg on the trip over from Ireland and had to be withdrawn. Most of the horses offered had won or been placed in a point-to-point race (form of amateur jumps racing) in Ireland or the UK.    

The sale began straight after racing on the first day of the carnival (4th April) and wow was it competitive. Despite the atrocious weather leading right up to and during the sale, it was extremely successful. 25 of the 28 horses sold for an aggregate of £3,198,000, with an average of £127,920, and a top price of  £440,000. An incredible opportunity as part of the sale was that the first two lots - Don Poli (£170,000), & Outlander (£165,000) were sold with an entry into the Grand National on Saturday. Both horses changed trainer and jockeys following the sale funnily enough and finished 19th and 9th respectively.

I was lucky enough to attend racing on all three days of the festival and was able to witness a bit of history as Tiger Roll won his second Grand National. The world’s greatest Steeplechase is run over four miles and two 1/2 furlongs and is described as "the ultimate test of a horse's courage". Tiger Roll’s win in the race made him the first horse since the legendary Red Rum (45 years ago) to win consecutive Grand Nationals. He has developed an enormous public following due to his amazing accomplishments despite his small stature (15.2hh). A very popular result and an awesome atmosphere to experience. I also threw £10 on him which helped!

Whilst staying in Liverpool for the festival we were lucky enough to be situated adjacent to the world famous Cavern Club where the Beatles rose to fame. They played 292 times at the Cavern which has also hosted bands such as The Rolling Stones, Queen, and Elton John. Needless to say I ended up there most nights.

Following the carnival I headed up to Hawick (pronounced hoik), Scotland, the location of the Goffs UK office with Tony (Tubba) Williams. Tubba is originally from Australia and has previously worked for Magic Millions for nine years up until 2012 before taking a key role in the set-up of Newgate farm. This led him on to working as managing Director for Goffs. He is an absolute champion and was my main port of call for the four weeks I was with Goffs. I could never thank him enough for everything he did for me.

Whist in the office I spent some time with the directors as well as the marketing, pedigree and accounts team’s, where they showed me what their day-to-day tasks involved. It was definitely a lot to take in and really highlighted the amount of work and organisation that goes on behind the scenes to make each sale possible as well as successful. The marketing director, Michael Orton is a fellow Kiwi from Hawkes Bay who spent time at NZB and Haunui farm. Him and his partner Celine, who also worked for Haunui, hosted me for dinner with a nice home-cooked meal which was great.

During one of my weekends with Tony, we headed off to Ayr for the Scottish Grand National meeting. Goff’s sponsored the owners rooms which made for an enjoyable day out. The meeting is the biggest and richest days’ racing in Scotland in which over 18,000 people attended. Another awesome experience! On top of all this they have organised for me to attend a day of the Punchestown festival in Ireland early May. This is considered the grand finale of the jumps season and also host’s another one of Goff’s boutique sales.

My time with Goffs UK concluded with the Doncaster Breeze up sale where 130 ready to run 2yo’s were offered. The sale differed a bit from the NZB ready to run sale as the horses breezed up the day before selling (In NZ this happens around a month before the sale date). They also breezed in single lots and were all fully pushed out. Again, Goffs had another great sale; 109 of the 130 horses sold for an aggregate of £5,068,250 and at an average selling price of £46,498. A Siyouni filly out of a listed winning mare ‘Fig Roll’ proved the star of the show, selling for £450,000. This was a new record for the sale, the joint second highest priced horse ever sold at Doncaster, and the highest priced flat horse sold in the company’s 57 year history. I was a bid spotter for the sale which was a new experience but one I thoroughly enjoyed.

My experience with Goff’s has really opened my eyes to the various opportunities that are within the Thoroughbred industry and the team here were extremely helpful and welcoming which made my time with them incredible. A massive thanks to everyone that was a part of it all,  I was so lucky with the time and effort they spared for me to help develop my understanding of the different aspects that contribute to a successful bloodstock company. I will especially miss the many laughs shared around the dinner table during sales weeks’ and my three Scottish mothers Gill, Pam, and Alison.

Sam and Neptune Collonges smiling for the camera - He was the 2012 grand national winner by the smallest ever margin in the history of the race. A nose.
Sam and Neptune Collonges smiling for the camera - He was the 2012 grand national winner by the smallest ever margin in the history of the race. A nose.


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