After January in the Cape, Feb at Newmarket Sales and a winner at Scottsville – Turf Talk: 6 February 2017

BEING in (at least) two places at once makes for high mileage in the physical and mental departments, so the priority after landing in London earlier this week was a day at a desk piled high and a night’s sleep.

January in the Cape had consisted of two days at the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate, the ITBF Congress, taking visitors to farms, seeing foals I hadn’t seen here and there, clapping eyes on seven stallions, inspecting a complete catalogue of CPYS yearlings before the sale spread over the weekend. Five days of meetings then filled in the time until that thirteen race extravaganza of excellence on the track at Kenilworth on 28 January.

The Tattersalls February (Mixed) Sale has long been a small but happy hunting ground for us for horses in training to win loads of races in non-mainstream jurisdictions. It doesn’t do much for the pension but the same people spend strong money at other times. In February, well made but unfashionable horses can be bought for small money to on-sell for profit after sending them overseas.

Last year, Tatts had pushed the limits of a one day sale with 387 catalogued but 80+ withdrawals (as anticipated in such sales) brought it to an easy 306 in the day. This time, 488 were catalogued (111 withdrawn) and of course were spread (for the first time) over two days.

The Tattersalls Rotunda at Newmarket, UK.

Newmarket is an hour and a half from my Surrey base or three hours if the M25 doesn’t play ball but on the day after flying north, the M25 gave me a birthday present of an easy drive.

Before long I was inspecting at Park Paddocks in dazzling sunshine, wearing my latest SpecSavers Melkbosstrand prescription shades, albeit 20 degrees cooler than Cape Town and with my long johns on.

Such a flood of surplus horses would surely bring about a decline in prices wouldn’t it? Not a bit of it. The average rose 57% year on year and the median was up by exactly 60%. The clearance rate was 94%.

David allan

Concentrating on the auctioneer.

Park Paddocks teemed with many forms of human life in a Pentecostal gathering where irrespective of nationality all can understand each otherby speaking “horse”. Our Kazakhs, Russians and Poles had a blast at “HQ”, each considering Newmarket to be positively balmy after arriving from daytime highs of minus 20 degrees.

The other widespread form of communication that takes place at Tattersalls in the northern hemisphere winter is the transfer of diseases. The near-certainty of picking up a cough/cold/flu from Scandinavia, France, the Balkans, the Steppes or Newmarket itself makes one contemplate making all the humans spend 90 days in quarantine. Where? Not Mauritius but perhaps Guernsey?

It is very satisfying to buy 3 year olds (since 1st January) with little or no form at 2. It is dead easy to buy the highest rated horse if you have the budget. Pedigree barely came into the 500,000 guineas paid for the 4 year old Listed winning Dark Angel filly rated about 110 and certainly not in the case of a winning Dandy Man filly rated 90+ bring-ing nearly 80,000.

But for 4,500 guineas wwe bought a stunning 3yo Hard Spun daughter of a Slew City Slew Grade 1 winner, and half sister to more black type. She had run moderately in France a month or two ago at 2 but was probably “lost” in the vast Godolphin empire and may become a bright little fish in a small pond, then a respectable mare.

For reasonable sums we bought big colts with stallions’ pedigrees, I kid you not. They had cost hundreds of thousands a year ago but at 2, showed themselves to be “slow” by the standards of such vendors as Juddmonte and John Gosden clients. They will get two months R&R to let niggles subside so as to assess them properly for their next careers.

Otherwise we bought a small truck full of yearlings for buttons. Doing so for commission would be a disappointing way to work hard, but unless we have “lost it” these unfashionably bred babies will be sold for profit overseas where there is no regard for the stud book or concept of pinhooking.

The Sales Company and vendors always appreciate that kind of “hoovering up” which of course contrib-utes to the 94% clearance rate. Bearing in mind that everyone pays for all their food and drink on the sale ground, dinner on Tatts for the team doing the “hoovering” is a generous thank you in context.

I was back at base on Saturday, courtesy of the M25 again), in time to follow my beloved-since-birth (more or less) West Bromwich Albion in their victory over Stoke City.

Scotland v Ireland was a cracking Six Nations Opener but today (I am writing on Sunday) is my rugby day: Wales’s first match which may reconfirm that coaches and some legendary players should make way for something new. Nevertheless Cymru am Byth!

To cap the day, a couple of hours ago, we had a juvenile debut winner at Scottsville with Anton Marcus riding a filly we bred in The Alado Project. She and other Alados were selected, bought and trained by Bass Racing, two of them in a five horse syndicate in which we took a share to reciprocate the support. AWESOMENESS might be one to follow along with a bunch of other of our latest Alados. – tt