Robert's Blog – June 2014

Cheveley Park's yearling division, Sandwich Stud entry
Cheveley Park's yearling division, Sandwich Stud entry

Robert reports from Coolmore Stud in Ireland
Welcome to my third blog, I am currently in my forth week living and working at Coolmore Stud in Fethard, Ireland. It's been about six weeks since my last update; this blog will cover my final weeks at Cheveley Park Stud, attending the races and sales in Newmarket and what I have been doing at Coolmore Stud so far. Before you read on here is the link to my photo blog, I've put a few photos from the races and sales in Newmarket up as well as a bit of Coolmore.


After my last night sitting up on the main Cheveley farm I transferred to Cheveley Park's yearling division, Sandwich Stud. There are three yards on Sandwich, the thatch, middle and top yards, home to about 43 yearlings in total. The top barn is the only enclosed yard, is closest to the walker and to the wood-chip track used for hand-walking and also has a rubbered area in the center of the boxes used for showing and parading yearlings.

The daily routine at Sandwich was fairly simple; the yearlings were boxed overnight so the first job was to turn them out to their paddocks in their groups, anywhere from 2 – 5 per group with paddocks sized accordingly. Following this, boxes were mucked out and bedded down with clean straw before being restocked with fresh hay and feed then the yards were tidied up and grounds keeping jobs were completed with the yearlings being brought back in usually around 3.30pm. The odd appearance from vets, an inspection of a colt by a potential buyer and inspection of all the yearlings by Cheveley Park management broke up the day to day routine. Following the management inspecting the yearlings at the end of April, they were turned out and will be brought back in later in the year to begin their preparation for yearling sales or as Cheveley racing propositions.

Before I go any further I must thank Cheveley Park for allowing me the opportunity to live and work on their stud. It was a great experience and I really did learn a lot from the management and staff and enjoyed the chance to work with some top horses and people alike, the 10 weeks I spent there is something I will never forget.

The middle week of April was a busy one with the 2 day Craven race meeting held at the Rowley Mile on Wednesday and Thursday and Tattersalls Craven Breeze Up Sale for 2yo's, with the breeze on the Tuesday and the sale on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, following the days racing.

The Craven meeting is one of the key lead ups for 3yo's aiming for the one or two thousand guineas in two weeks' time, with the mile Craven Stakes for the colts and geldings and the seven furlong Nell Gwyn Stakes the fillies affair (named after 17th Century Monarch, King Charles ll mistress, Nell Gwyn).

Both are good races in their own right, being Group three status. The Rowley Mile track is very different to any course you will see back home. It is a straight mile with a bend at the top of the track for race beyond a mile with that section also being a part of the neighbouring July Racecourse. It is anything but flat with dips and rises throughout with a very noticeable rise over the final furlong making it tough effort as horses approach the finish. I attended the Wednesday meeting with a couple lads from work where we watched Footstepsinthesand filly Sandiva take out the Nell Gwyn under the legend Frankie Dettori for his new boss, Al Shaqab Racing's Sheikh Joaan and trainer Richard Fahey. Another impressive winner on the day was Godolphin's Derby hopeful, True Story, who was sent out a firm favourite and easily delivered.

The following day it was back to work for me but racing continued with Toormore (by Arakan, an American bred son of Nureyev) too good for the boys in the Craven Stakes, winning by a comfortable 2 lengths for jockey Ryan Moore and trainer Richard Hannon.

On the Tuesday morning I was gifted the day off to head down to the Rowley Mile and view the 2yos breeze for the Craven Sale with London based bloodstock agent, James McHale, a contact I was kindly given by Larry Stratton. James and I stood on the inside of the track as we watched the 128 horses breeze, taking notes on the ones we liked and didn't like and also recording the time for the one and two furlong. The breeze up sale is a bit different to NZ Bloodstock's Ready to Run Sale, once the horses breezed they were back on the trucks and transported the 5 minutes down the road to the Tattersalls grounds where the majority were available for inspection that afternoon. So straight after the breeze that's where we headed, and my afternoon was spent inspecting about 50 colts and fillies with another agent, Richard Knight whom was there buying for a trainer client.

As I said earlier, the sale itself was held from 6 until about 9 in the evening following the days racing on Wednesday and Thursday. The Tattersalls Craven sale is considered the strongest breeze up sale in UK/Europe. It was a very strong sale with 93 sold at an average of 112,000, a median of 70,000 guineas and an aggregate of 10.5m Guineas, with all figures up on last year apart from lots offered and sold. The European record price at a breeze up sale was set on the first day by a High Chaparral bought for 800,000 guineas. It only lasted a day though as a War Front colt out of the mare Julie From Dixie cracked the million and was knocked down to Jamie McCalmont for 1.15m Guineas after a strong bidding war. Great theatre indeed!

Tattersalls tour and history with Jason Singh
Like those before me on the Sunline Scholarship, I got a tour and history lesson of Tattersalls from Marketing Manager, Jason Singh. Michael Martin forwarded me Jason's contact details and we met briefly during the Craven sale and arranged to meet the following week.
The Tattersalls Sales ring
The Tattersalls Sales ring

Jason talked about the proud history behind Tatersalls, founded in 1766 by Richard Tattersall, they are the oldest bloodstock auctioneering firm in the world. When they first moved to Newmarket in the days of horse and cart horses were auctioned off in the main street. He explained the historical ties with hunts (hence the statue of a fox under Tattersalls famous rotunda) and even said while there are currently no official ties to National Hunt, there is still an informal connection.

Tattersalls itself is situated almost in the middle of Newmarket and is able to accommodate over 1000 horses. The land itself is not flat, with the sale ring atop a hill with some boxes also up the hill and more boxes on the face of the hill. The prime real estate is the flat land at the bottom of the hill, being the flattest and best area for showing horses. Tattersall is also the only place that horses are sold in Guineas. One Guinea is equal to 1.05 Pound (or 21 Shillings), with the seller receiving one Pound (20 Shillings) and Tatts taking the 0.05 (1 Shilling) as commission.

An interesting difference between the Karaka sales and Tattersall sales is the testing of the horses wind. NZ Bloodstock scope a horse once it has been sold, whereas at Tattersalls ask the buyer if they would like the wind tested. Basically everyone says yes so the horse is lunged with a vet present listening to the horses breathing. This coupled with scoping determines the horses wind. But if the horse is listed as 'in training', like the breeze up horses are, they are referred by the vet and worked up the Warren Hill gallop the following morning with a scope attached. A panel of 3 veterinarians observe and make the final decision.

A big thank you to Jason at Tatts, a very well-liked and respected man. It was an entertaining and informative morning we spent walking around Tatts in the Newmarket drizzle.

Guineas week
Guineas week was my final week in England, with a breeze up and horses in training sale on the Friday and the Guineas meeting at the Rowley Mile on the Saturday and Sunday. Again I accompanied James McHale to view the breeze before spending the afternoon with now France based kiwi, Paul Moroney. Together Paul and I looked at most of the book, colts and fillies. Paul was an excellent teacher, answering any questions I had and explaining the points he liked about the horses and those that he didn't. It was a good opportunity for me to improve my eye for a horse and by the end of the day I was thinking along similar lines to Paul. My thanks must go out to James and Paul for allowing me their time and knowledge; I really did take a lot from the experience and am grateful.

The Guineas races really transform the Newmarket town making it a hub of activity before and after the racing. Thanks to Cheveley Park Stud's generosity I received tickets to both days of the Guineas meeting, with the 2000 on Saturday and 1000 Sunday. The weather sure played its part with both days being absolute crackers attracting a good crowd to the Rowley Mile course. Standing shoulder to shoulder in the mass of people we watched as Night Of Thunder (by Dubawi) ran out from the inside rail to the outside but still managed to win, upsetting favourites Kingman and Australia in the 2000 Guineas. The race was made all the more interesting with the presence of Spanish 3yo colt Noozhoh Canarias who brought along a team of travelling supporters. We all had a good day out and I managed to beat the bookies, backing the winners of the last 3 races. Joss and I returned for the 2nd day as Miss France (Dansili) topped a brilliant day for Frenchmen Andre Farbe (trainer) and Maxime Goyon (jockey) by taking out the 1000 Guineas with the combination also saluting earlier in the day.

Racing is definitely very different over here with tactics being of the utmost importance with the undulating tracks, nonetheless it is still very enjoyable. It was also good to say the public being so involved and passionate about their racing, it is definitely a proud tradition in this part of the world.


I left Newmarket the morning after the 1000 Guineas, catching the bus to Stansted airport early in the morning, leaving behind the town and new friends I had grown accustom to but at the same time excited about moving onto Coolmore, an international powerhouse in the thoroughbred industry. After a quick flight, bus and train ride I found myself at Thurles train station before being collected and taken to my temporary home at Walsh's Barn on Coolmore Stud. I met my new house mates, Irish lads Chris and Michael and Paul from Estonia.

I started work first thing the next morning at Top Barn with Hungarians Suzie and Leslie (Coolmore is home to a few different nationalities). I'm working with mares and foals, the day starts about 7 (6 if there is an early cover), completing teasing and the vet work first before turning the mares out for the day.

Mucking out next and bedding down with new straw then a big clean up. Going with a mare for cover can break up the day, I have had a trip to Lawman at Ballylinch Stud and Raven's Pass at Darley as well as regular visits to Coolmore's stallions. After a week I moved to Walsh's Barn home to 25 mares and foals. Just last week the mares and foals started living outside but are brought in for 2-3 hours in the morning to be fed and do the teasing and vet work. Once the mares are confirmed in foal they are trucked to another part of the farm or back to their owner's property.

On busy evenings I have been helping down at the covering and teasing shed or with walk-ins at the Moyglass Barn. With an impressive roster of 17 stallions on the main farm it can make for a busy period at covering times but Coolmore have put an efficient yet simple system in place. No foals come to the covering shed, if they are residents then they are left in their barn, but if they are walk-ins they are left at home or the mare and foals arrive at the Moyglass barn (about 400m from the covering shed) where the foal is left in a box and the mare is walked down to the teasing shed by Coolmore staff. Once they reach the teasing shed they are teased by a pony I can only describe as impressive (he works the whole season and he's teased over 3000 mares so far). The mares then have their identification checked and are then cleaned up ready for covering. If a mare has to wait for her turn in the covering shed they are held in a large covered ring until they are called up. With two covering sheds and plenty of lads on hand they can get through the mares reasonably quick. The whole area is well laid out making things easy.

Like I've said previously I can't fit everything into the blog, Coolmore is such a massive place and there is always plenty going on. Last Sunday I attended the 1000 Guineas at the Curragh Racecourse and witnessed Marvellous become Galileo's 100th individual group winner, no mean feat! I'm enjoying the work and getting on well with the friendly Irish, crazy to think I've already been here over three weeks!

Hope everyone at home is well and the winter weather isn't too cold and good luck to the team of kiwis campaigning at the Queensland Carnival. Until next time,